Badgerton: An ADHD Story

Building the proactive reminder app for hyperactive brains.

Merlock Fairwood
Aug 22 · 4 min read

It all began in 2017.

I was still learning the ropes and trying to figure out the startup world.

Despite all the people around me drilling into my head the critical importance of building something that solves a (preferably huge and painful) problem, I was still majorly product-oriented thanks to the product work I did daily.

So of course, I approached things from the polar opposite end. Ideas for great user experience features and visionary new products no one ever asked for swirled wildly in my head.

Coincidentally, I was also spending time learning modern web development to add to the mobile development skills I had picked up the year prior. It never once occurred to me that my chronic self-learning (a common ADHD trait) was an indicator of something in my head being askew.

As I studied modern web frameworks, I noticed a pattern. The most common example app used to “teach by doing” across all the courses I consumed was the to-do app.

React left a sour taste, so I picked up Vue.

Simple premise, simple text content, and the opportunity to practice all facets of app development, from interface design to frontend code to cloud setup. What’s not to like?

As I coded to-do app after to-do app, another pattern started emerging to me, this time something less obvious.

None of these reminder apps were doing any work for me.

If I were to use them the way I (haphazardly) used the native iOS Reminders app, everything would always be on me.

I’d need to write the reminders down, I’d need to regularly check the app and go through all the tasks, and if I wanted an alarm or notification to remind me of anything, I’d need to choose a specific date and time, even though most of my non-work tasks couldn’t be scheduled that accurately ahead of time.

Something about that didn’t sit right with me, so I dug through the Reminders app to see if I was missing anything. This led me to discover that each reminder could have a priority level associated with it.

The iOS Reminders app.

Excited to try out this new feature, I set a priority for a task and… nothing.

Turns out these priorities were nothing more than icons used to visually indicate which reminders were more important. The burden of checking them all manually was still on me.

That really irked me, really ruffled my feathers, really got my goat, if you will.

And then I stopped.

Instead of chasing this lead to its logical conclusion, I was distracted by the million other ideas in my head and swept away to pursue other goals (you guessed it — another common sign of ADHD).

Fast forward to the tail end of 2018, and a friend casually asked me one day:

“You sure you don’t have ADHD?”

No one had ever asked me that before, and I myself had always dismissed ADHD as nothing more than an excuse for insufficient discipline. Yet as with most things in life, when we hear something from friends or family, we give it more weight.

Dr. Russell Barkley’s lectures were eye-opening.

I started looking into ADHD. Really looking into it. Articles, videos, news reports — I dug through everything I could find, until I came upon one of the less talked about signs: time blindness.

It turned out, people with ADHD brains don’t perceive time the same way as those with “neurotypical” brains. To us, it’s always now. The future is in a vague haze, while the past feels disjointed, with decade-old events feeling like they happened just last month.

Suddenly, everything started falling into place.

The reason the idea of checking a reminder app constantly felt so wrong was that very difference in time perception.

The reason the priority feature in the iOS Reminders app felt so disappointing was because it didn’t create any of the external stimulation that ADHD brains crave — nay, require.

And the reason all reminder apps were the same was because no one had ever thought to build productivity software for the one group of people who desperately need it: those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

So I decided that I would be the one to build that software, and with that same friend who unwittingly helped me discover my own ADHD in tow, we set out to build the first ever proactive reminder app that works for you, instead of forcing you to do all the work.

Badgerton is driven by priority levels instead of exact deadlines.

Fast forward another half a year, and Badgerton is finally here.

We have plenty of features to add and some fancy AI mechanics to implement before Badgerton becomes the full-fledged digital assistant it’s meant to be, and that’ll take time, but if this first version manages to be as useful to others as it has been to me for months now, then it’ll all be worth it.

The Badger Den

By ADHD brains for ADHD brains.

Merlock Fairwood

Written by

Peace is a lie. There is only passion.

The Badger Den

By ADHD brains for ADHD brains.

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