Frustrated with Technology? Steps to Organize Your Electronic Life

Person with long hair sits on sofa drinking coffee while working with phone, laptop, and charger on tableThe Apple iPhone is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year. Consider how much technology has changed in that time, especially in the past few years. Technology can help make anyone’s life easier, but it may be particularly beneficial to some individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) and/or executive functioning difficulties. To give specific examples, individuals can always have a calendar and task list with them and set reminders to be notified when it’s time to complete a task or go to an appointment. With the right widget, it’s even possible to set alerts to be notified when it’s necessary to leave one’s current location to make a scheduled appointment, based on traffic conditions.

Although it can be incredibly useful, technology still has the potential to create numerous issues for some individuals. Without the right knowledge of a particular app or program, some people may experience difficulties even with staying organized. Many apps and programs can sync together, and when they work well and are used properly, things go smoothly. However, this does not always occur. Further, some may experience confusion and frustration when trying to navigate the steps in learning to use different programs and/or have them sync across devices, and they may choose, as a result, not to use them.

Getting Organized

It can be stressful when programs or technology just don’t seem to work. Sometimes, it’s not possible to simply give up on them—when you need a certain app or program for work, for example. If you struggle to organize any or all aspects of your electronic life, it may be helpful to give these general principles and suggestions for organization a try. This list isn’t an exhaustive one, but it may give you a starting place and provide some insight as you consider how you interact with technology and explore any small changes you might make.

  1. Back up your phone, computer, tablet, and any other devices you might use.
    • It amazes me how many people do not use built-in features for backing up their devices. They are available, so why not use them? It will save you a great deal of stress and time if your device does happen to crash.
    • iCloud is standard for Apple devices, and it’s possible to set it to back up most of your data automatically (iCloud calendar, photos, documents, apps, and so on).
    • Google Drive and Dropbox are good storage options to back up information on non-Apple devices (or as a second method of backing up information on Apple devices). It may be best to set automatic backups so you don’t have to remember to manually back items up.
    • Consider using an external hard drive that also backs items up to the cloud for remote access.
  2. Take advantage of calendars, task lists, and so on that sync across devices
    • If you use Google calendars, you can have the same calendars show up on your phone, tablet, and computer, regardless of what brand the devices are. Ideally things should sync perfectly, but sometimes they do not, so it is important to check periodically so you can catch any situations where you put an event in the calendar on one device but it did not sync to another device.
    • If you use Apple devices, you can sync calendars, task lists, and so on across the devices or even on a PC. By logging into iCloud you can access iCloud-based calendars, notes, and task lists. Setting alerts to pop up on both your phone and computer can be helpful.
  3. Keep technology use as simple as possible
    • Try to limit tasks to only one or two different apps.
    • Viewing all calendars in one app may be ideal for most.
    • Try to limit yourself to one notes app, or at most one notes app for each type of item (standard notes app for personal notes and MobisleNotes or EverNote for work-related notes, for example).
  4. If multiple email, iCloud, or Google accounts are necessary:
    • Keep work and personal web browsing separate to keep better track of bookmarked pages.
    • Keep track of which email account and calendar you put items on so you can keep work and personal items separate.
    • If you share a calendar with family members, make sure to only schedule family-related events on this calendar, especially if children have access. The iCloud family calendar, which can be set up by activating family sharing under settings, is excellent because not only do events show up on everyone’s devices, notifications are also sent when someone has added a new event.
    • Try using different colors for events on each calendar to help differentiate between calendars.
    • If you share a work calendar, keep careful track of the information you share with others versus what is only visible to you.

There are many things to consider when attempting to identify the best ways of making technology helpful and useful for you while also minimizing the downsides. If it’s difficult to strategize or identify trouble areas on your own, consider discussing any concerns with a qualified therapist or counselor.

© Copyright 2017 All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Carey A. Heller, PsyD, therapist in Bethesda, Maryland

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Celia


    July 26th, 2017 at 10:00 AM

    You know what I am the most frustrated with? the accounts that continually make you change your password every month or so. Why? Why do I have to change my password every month when I know that I am going to be the only one login in every single day? I know, it is for my protection, I get it, but don’t they understand how many lists upon lists of passwords I now have to keep when things would be sooo much simpler if I could have one and keep it?

  • beth


    July 27th, 2017 at 7:38 AM

    Does anyone else ever feel like they are just a jinx on anything computer related that they ever try? I feel like I am always the one locking up machines and having to reboot, or having something just not follow the right steps that they probably should. I feel so computer illiterate, and any time that a new program has to be updated or we go to something different, that totally throws me for a loop. I wish at times that we weren’t all so dependent on them for everything. I know that they have eased the work load in many ways, but in other ways they make life a little more difficult, especially for older pups like me.

  • Kenneth b

    Kenneth b

    July 27th, 2017 at 10:25 AM

    Look at how far society has advanced with our massive strides forward in technology!
    It has made so many things possible that we could have never even imagined in the past.
    Personally when I see new stuff I’m like bring it on, I’m ready for it.

  • Mrs B

    Mrs B

    July 28th, 2017 at 7:13 AM

    I’m just going back to my pocket calendar

  • Rory


    July 30th, 2017 at 3:37 PM

    I know so many people who have to schedule and alert every single appointment or task that they have to complete on a daily basis. I can understand if you have kids and a family going to multiple things every day, but single people who have no one to take care of but themselves. I just don’t get it. One little to do list Every day tends to work pretty well for me. Maybe when I have to take care of more than just me then I will feel that need too.

  • Carey Heller, Psy.D.

    Carey Heller, Psy.D.

    August 1st, 2017 at 2:35 AM

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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