Stop Missing Appointments!

ADHD Strategies, Adults with ADHD, Time Optimist    August 30, 2019

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Recently I’ve noticed an increase in my dentist’s efforts to remind me of appointments.

In the good old days, I would get a postcard two weeks before an appointment reminding me of the day and time. This was helpful because most of those appointments are made six months in advance.

And then before I knew it, reminder phone calls replaced the postcards which started showing up in my mailbox about two weeks before the appointment. 

Fine by me!

Then the reminder phone calls were joined by several reminder email messages a few days before the appointment – and even a text message asking me to hit reply to confirm that I will be there.

I have a business myself that struggles to find ways to remind clients of appointments, so I can appreciate and respect these reminders.

In fact, I kind of admire the persistence.

But this got me thinking. 

Thinking about all the other polite, conscientious people out there in the world who would never purposefully miss an appointment (AKA most people I know with ADHD).

The people who do their best to remember every appointment they make…only to read a text or pick up a ringing phone the day of the appointment to hear that they were an hour late to their dental cleaning.

Are you one of those people? Constantly late or missing appointments?

If you are, and if you find you are starting to feel nervous to show your face at your dentist or doctor’s office in case you might have been put on their “naughty list”, I’ve got you covered.

A Guide to Keeping Your Appointments with ADHD

Keeping appointments is more than just putting it on the calendar or entering it on your iPhone. Remembering the appointment involves a multi-step system. A system that could fail at any point. Which is why I have broken it down into three steps that include a few tips and tricks to help you make, remember and actually show up 

1. Record the appointment in your planning system

Get in the habit of recording your appointments when you schedule them. 

Many people with ADHD make the appointment, but don’t record it anywhere except their memory. And unfortunately, we all know how that goes.

Not writing it down or thinking you are going to remember it just opens up the door for disaster. In fact, when you don’t record an appointment, it lowers the chances of actually getting to it by about 25 percent!

It is really this missed step that undermines most people’s chances of ever getting to the appointment. You may have the sincerest intentions to write it in your planner later, but be honest: most of us say we will write it down, but we procrastinate and don’t (and if you tend to procrastinate, check out my post here where I write about overcoming procrastination).

Here are some ideas for ways to record the appointment:

  • Write it in your planner
  • Type it into your smartphone
  • Write it on your calendar
  • Create a text and send it to yourself
  • Set a date and time reminder on your phone
  • Take a picture of the appointment card and send it to yourself
  • Ask for a reminder call

If you made and recorded the appointment, congratulations! 

You now have about a 50/50 chance of showing up on the right day and time. Those are better odds than before. 🙂

But, you haven’t reached the appointment yet. Which leads us to step #2…

2. Set a reminder for the day of the appointment.

Set a reminder (preferably several) for the day and time of the appointment as soon as you get it.

Go ahead and add alarms and timers on your phone or watch. Set them a week before, the day before and one hour before the actual appointment. Even better try using a unique alarm sound only for appointment reminding purposes. And if you want to increase your chances of making the appointment to 75 percent, use the vibration alarm. You’ll thank me later!

So far, you’ve made the appointment. You recorded it. You set alarms to remind yourself.

But there’s one final step – perhaps the most crucial one.

Getting there on time.

3. Know how long it will take you to get there.

When I coach my adult clients, I always tell them preparation is the key to success. So when you are trying to get to an appointment on time, be sure to prepare for it by knowing how long it will actually take you to get there. Considering the time awareness challenges so many people with ADHD have, guessing about this is not a good idea.  

Be sure to factor in the time it will take to get out of the house, possible traffic, parking delays, and even slow elevators.

When you’ve figured out how long it will take, multiple it times two.

Yes, times two.

Even with all that factoring in, it is common to still underestimate how long it will take to get somewhere. Multiplying times two allows for those pesky delays. The idea of making and keeping appointments may seem to be a trivial matter to most, but for someone with ADHD, it can be a real problem. 

Good news is that this is a problem that can be solved – as long as you put a few habits, systems and steps into place. 

What are some of your experiences or best ways to make and keep appointments?  I love reading your comments! Let me know below.

Laurie Dupar, Senior Certified ADHD Coach and trained Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, specializes in working with clients who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and want to finally understand how their brain works, minimize their challenges and get things done! Through individual/group coaching, live speaking, and her writing, she helps clients and their loved ones use effective strategies to minimize their ADHD challenges so they can experience success. She is the co-author and editor of 365+1 Ways to Succeed with ADHD and author of Brain Surfing and 31 Other Awesome Qualities of ADHD. For more information, please visit https://www.coachingforadhd.com

This article was originally published on March 30, 2015 and has been updated.

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