OneNote: the Chaotic-ADHD Software We All Need

If you are someone who struggles with ADHD, you know that staying organized can be a real challenge. But thanks to the amazing software program OneNote, it is now easier than ever to get your life in order!

OneNote allows you to create multiple “notebooks,” each with its own list of labeled pages. This makes it easy to compartmentalize your thoughts and ideas. The canvas for each page is also extremely malleable, so you can add images, copy and paste from other programs, and create your own Excel-like sheets right within OneNote. Plus, the list of pages from your notebooks will show on the right-hand side so you can always see their labels easily.

You can re-arrange them as needed as well, which is great for ADHD because let’s face it – our thoughts, ideas and plans change often! OneNote also has plenty of customization options to make sure that you can create an ADHD organization system that works for you.

If you’re looking for a way to stay on top of your ADHD, try out OneNote and get the most out of your new favourite ADHD organization tool!

What is OneNote?

OneNote is not new, but I had always dismissed it as “yet another Office system I won’t use” because, well, except for Word, I don’t really use any of the Office Suite things, or whatever they’re called. Making me use Excel is a bit like pulling a tooth, and I can only do the most basic tasks.

But OneNote is different. It’s a freeform notebook that you can use to store anything from notes, to-do lists, and images… You can even doodle in it!


OneNote is great for ADHD because it allows us to quickly jot down thoughts and ideas without having to worry about where they will fit in our lives.

I named my main notebook ONGOING BRAINDUMP TRAINWRECK because… well, it’s pretty self-explanatory. And I like a little dramatic touch here and there.

Mainly, I use that notebook to write down pretty much anything I want to keep in mind for future reference. It certainly earned its “trainwreck” title. The first page of that notebook is where everything lands first, then I create pages for each idea I want to flesh out on their own. once they are fleshed out, thought through, and I decide to keep the idea, I will re-home the page into the right notebook.

I do have a few extra notebooks with specific themes that work for me, so moving the pages from the braindump trainwreck into the right notebook for it isn’t much of a problem.

If anything, I can always make… one more notebook.

For anyone here with a notebook addiction (that would be me) I want to let you know that none of your loved ones will go nuts because you have too many digital notebooks in OneNote, which is definitely a plus. As for the physical notebooks piles… heh. Can’t help you there, I’m in the same situation.

Mind Maps, Lists, Reminders, Ideas…

It’s not complicated for me to sell you on the idea of OneNote. Who WOULDN’T want a central hub in which everything can fit?

  • Need a to-do list? Sure! You can even look into your 15 other pages or notes to make sure you’re not forgetting something
  • Need to track your productivity or sleep or stress levels or anything else? All you need is an empty spot or a brand-new page and start an Excel-like sheet. You can have 24 rows for 24 hours (if your sleep schedule is as inconsistent as mine) and a column for each day of tracking. You can even color-code each hour to mean whatever it is you want the colors to mean.
  • Need to elaborate on that one thought™ that you wrote down last month in your braindump page? Start a new page and write the idea in the “middle” of the page (there’s no real middle since it can expand a lot, I guess) and start making boxes and lines to write extra ideas, questions and possibilities around it.
  • You made a specific layout that you want to reuse many times? Each page can be duplicated as many times as you want it to. If you do that, I suggest keeping one as a master copy (and naming it that) so you can duplicate new blank pages with the layout later.

OneNote is an incredibly effective ADHD organization tool that makes staying on top of things easier than ever. We can have a system tailored specifically to our needs, since we can MAKE the system as we need it to be. Plus, it’s easy to use and totally free!

Yep, It’s Free

If, like me, you didn’t know much about OneNote, or didn’t even know it existed, I want to let you know that it won’t cost you a thing. I stumbled upon OneNote on my computer and I didn’t even know I had it. So, if you have a Windows pc, chances are you can find it in your Start menu under the letter O.

As you may have noticed, I am not very good at tech, so if you can’t find OneNote, I suggest a google search… I unfortunately wouldn’t be of much help.

Bring It With You

I was able to add OneNote to my phone and sync the phone version to my pc version as well. It is surprisingly easy to use even on a phone (I had my doubts) and it’s amazing to be able to keep my digital notebooks close at all times. There’s always a new idea waiting to be written down, after all!

A couple of tips and tricks

I started using OneNote with absolutely no idea what I was doing, so I wanted to share with you a few things I learned that made my use of it much better.

  1. Hit the Tab button to begin an Excel-style table. You’ll need to write at least one letter for it to kick in. Each “Tab” will add a column, hit Enter to add a row. If it doesn’t work as it should, right-click the table and use the option to add rows and add columns.
  2. Once you have a table, there will be a new section at the top of OneNote called “Table Tools” where you can recolor boxes, select, add, delete rows or columns, etc. Take a look at it, it’s pretty useful.
  3. It’s a digital notebook and anything can be changed. With that in mind: make it ugly. it doesn’t matter what it looks like, don’t edit as you go if it gets in the way of writing down your stuff.
  4. Use the “Draw” tab at the top of OneNote to add empty boxes, arrows, or freeform. All of those are gold for visual people like myself!
  5. Under the OneNote tabs, you will see the Notebook-specific tabs too. Each notebook tab can hold their own pages, so you can have sections within your notebook with a ton of extra pages before even making a second notebook. Everything can be renamed for ease of use.

That’s about it for me!

I sincerely hope that OneNote will be as beneficial to you as it has been to me. I use it daily and it’s a life saver. If you start using it, let me know how it impacted your life! I always love to hear from you.

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