Episode 30: My Favorite Tech Tool: How The Apple Watch Saved My ADHD Brain
This week's podcast is all about the Apple Watch and how I use it to manage my ADHD brain. I didn’t want an Apple watch, I don’t want to wear anything that everyone else is wearing. 🙊 That said, once I did, I realized just how valuable it could be to manage my ADHD brain. I feel more in control, less worried about things falling through the cracks, and more organized than I’ve ever felt.
My whole goal has been to build structures around myself to shore up my weaknesses so I can focus on my strengths. I have basically uploaded my working memory to the apple watch.
When I first got the watch, I was totally overwhelmed. I looked everywhere for videos and blog posts, about how to use the Apple watch to shore up the ADHD brain. I couldn’t find anything so I’ve wanted to do this podcast for awhile. That said, this is not an in-depth instruction manual on what the apple watch can do. This is really just me talking to you about the best, simplest ways I have found to set up and use my Apple watch to build that structure around me that best supports my ADHD brain.
And this is the structure that has worked best for me:
ALARMS, TIMERS & REMINDERS The number one reason I love the apple watch is for alarms. I no longer need to wash the laundry five times because I keep forgetting I’m doing the wash and get totally distracted by my work, my kids, my dog or another Donald Trump tweet 🙄…. YOU GET ME? With my Apple watch, I can actually cook again because I don’t burn things anymore. I’m constantly reminded by Mr. Apple that I’m cooking! It took me awhile to figure this out but this is what you need to know.
Your iPhone, and Apple watch have alarms, reminders and timers. Your Macbook and Ipad only have reminders built in.
You only have one timer on your Apple Watch or Iphone. There are no multiple timers.
Alarms and reminders have labels so you can remember what you were even working on. Timers do not so when the timer goes off, if you’re anything like me, you won’t have a clue what you were even timing. 🤷🏻♀️
Haptic feedback is probably the best feature of the alarm on my Apple watch. It’s the light tap on the top of your wrist that your watch administers, kind of like you’re own built-in nanny.
Both reminders and alarms allow you to use your voice to set up an alert which I love.
I sleep with my watch, set weekly and weekend alarms and use the haptic feedback when the alarms go off every morning as my alarm clock.
Alarms don’t delete themselves like reminders so you’ll have to delete them off your phone every other month or two. Instructions here.
Alarms and timers that you set up on your Apple Watch will not show up anywhere else. Alarms and timers that you set up on your IPhone will show up on your watch. No idea why, I just know that they won’t.
If you need multiple countdown timers, this is the best I could find but don’t bother adding the complication to your watch. Just use it on your phone.
FIND YOUR PHONE If you too lose your phone at the store, your office or in the garden under layers of mulch (you’ll have to listen to the podcast 🙈), this is reason alone to invest in the Apple Watch. You can use your watch to ping your phone. Even better, if you’re in the dark and you can’t find your phone or you just want to know if it’s at the bottom of your bottomless purse, continue to press on the phone icon. The flash will light up and blink. Instructions are here.
FLASHLIGHT I never used the flashlight on my IPhone. When I needed it, I was usually at a front door trying to hold groceries, a bag, a dog or all three. With your Apple Watch on your wrist, you can actually use it as a flashlight. This is perfect when you’re in the dark trying to put a key into a lock. Instructions here.
SPOTIFY I’m not a music person. I know… blasphemy, right? I just find it so distracting to all the brilliance trapped in my brain 🙄 but since I know that music affects emotion in a positive way I force myself to listen to it. The Apple Watch with the Spotify app makes this so easy that I actually use it. I put my Apple wireless AirPods, click on my Spotify complication on my watch face and I’m automatically connect to my ADHD for Smart Ass Women playlist. The whole point of the playlist was to create an immediate go-to resource for positive, feel good, happy, upbeat music and i have to tell you that it totally works. If I’m feeling even a little down, I start the playlist and within 5 minutes I feel 100% better. I created this playlist with the help of members of our ADHD for Smart Ass Women Facebook group. Join us.
Btw, I’m famous for putting things down and not knowing where I put them and I knew my tiny little AirPods would be no exception so I bought this Airpods Watch Band Holder for the times I can’t immediately get my AirPods back in their case.
PCALC I have no idea why the IPhone calculator app doesn’t sync to the Apple watch but it doesn’t and just like Barbie, I hate math. PCalc is the calculator on my wrist. It’s for conversions and calculations of all kinds from currency to tips to almost anything a scientist, engineer or student would need. It’s a bit pricey at $9.99 but it works.
WALKIE TALKIE This feature of the Apple Watch is great for family communication. My daughter is going to school in NYC. We regularly ping each other using the Walkie Talkie for simple questions. My husband also loves when I harass him in the grocery store by constantly adding “one more thing” to our shopping list. One of my favorite features of the Apple Watch because it’s so quick. Instructions here.
WORLD CLOCK Right now I have a teenager who’s traveling through Europe, a daughter in NYC and a VA in the Philippines. I am so bad at calculating anything and that includes time. One of the best things I did was set my watch complications (apps that show up on your watch face) to include a world clock with all my time zones accessible right on my wrist. One click and one swipe and I know exactly when I should or shouldn’t call. Instructions here.
MAPS is one of the best apps built into the Apple Watch 4. The turn-by-turn navigation with haptic feedback is almost like having a friend sitting in the seat next to you saying, “turn right here.” Just remember to set your turn alert notifications on the watch app on your IPhone. Instructions here.
TILE I am constantly leaving my purse behind. In truth I hate carrying a purse so I often just carry a wallet but because I don’t usually carry a purse when I do I forget that I even have a purse with me. Well, Tile Mate helps. I added one to my wallet. You can use these Tiles on everything. You can hang them on your keys, stick them on your laptop, your ipad, your remote control; basically whatever you lose. You download the free TileApp and then you can ring your things with your phone. If I lose something and I’m too far to ping it, I can open up the Tile App on my Apple Watch or my IPhone and see where the last place was that I left it. There’s also a built in community that can help you find whatever you have a Tile App on.
BEAR Right after I was diagnosed with ADHD it suddenly dawned on me that I had a million notebooks but I never went back into any of them. The few times I had to find something I got so overwhelmed. I was never able to find anything so why take them? That’s when a friend told me about a simple app that came with my MacBook that I could write notes in and search for those notes later. For three years I’ve been a staunch Apple Notes fan. Then, I discovered Bear. It’s better than apple notes because:
It’s much cleaner, simpler, and more aesthetically pleasing which is really important to my brain. Simple, beautiful, good design relaxes it. Clutter confuses it.
I love that I can tag everything. Apple notes uses folders and often times I have trouble finding things because one note could be in a number of folders. Now I just tag my notes and I’m never worried that I might not be able to find the note when I need it.
Bear syncs with my macbook, ipad, phone (which apple notes does as well) but it also syncs with my apple watch. I have the complication on my watch face so wherever I am I can take a quick note using my voice. When I get to my laptop I can then organize it. It’s just really easy to get into and out of which is so important for the ADHD brain because when things are cumbersome we will not use them.
It’s also intuitive, you can the most basic features and then add from there when you’re ready.
You can also add links in the document and export in every way imaginable.
CHEATSHEET is for really simple notes (non-sensitive information that doesn’t need encryption). It’s a way to remember things you always forget. Things like logins, homework assignments, flight numbers, gate numbers, hotel room numbers. I’m redoing my son’s bedroom right now. All his room dimensions are stored in a Cheatsheet file with a baby icon (shhhh, don’t tell him!). When I’m in a paint or furniture store or even chatting with an online vendor, it is so easy to just click on the Cheatsheet complication on my Apple Watch and look for the baby icon that contains all the measurements I could ever need. Normally I would have measured his room and lost the dimensions at least four times by now. The key to any application for our ADHD brains is really how quickly you can get in and out of it because that’s the only way that we’ll muster up the patience to actually use it. If you’re going to use cheatsheet make sure it’s one of the complications on your watch face. You can find Cheatsheet here.
Here are the three additional Apple Watch apps that I mentioned in my podcast. I’m impressed with them thus far but haven’t used them long enough to include on my list. I’ll report back later. 🤓
If you have a great Apple Watch app that plays well with your ADHD brain, please let me know about it by emailing me at [email protected]. You can also find my podcast, Amazon Alexa briefing, Facebook Group and information on Coretography at tracyotsuka.com.
Host Tracy Otsuka is a lawyer, not a doctor, a life-long student, not a coach. She’s also the creator of Coretography a patent pending system that helps smart, driven women understand their own unique ADHD brain and use it to their advantage.
Tracy will be talking about ADHD. Your super powers, your symptoms, your solutions and work-arounds and how you proudly stand out. Tracy credits ADHD for some of her superpowers and much of her success in life.