How is your time awareness? Does it feel like ADHD time is different than everyone else’s? Do you always get to your appointments 10 minutes late? Do you annoy your loved ones because you’re always rushing at the last minute to get somewhere? Does it take you longer to get things done than you had imagined?
People on ADHD time can sometimes seem like they are time blind. They lack an inner clock. They see the phenomenon of time as “now” and “not now.” They agree to meet their partner at a certain time for lunch and end up being late. This risks the wrath of their partner. Others often misunderstand this behavior. Neurotypicals can mistake this for “My partner just doesn’t care about me.” This can really put a strain on these very important relationships.
You can manage this by focusing on the departure time instead of the arrival time. Keeping in mind the time of the appointment, work backwards and figure out how long it takes to do each step of preparation. Instead of thinking of the overall time it takes to get ready, break down preparation into steps. I have to brush my teeth, I have to put on my clothes, eat my breakfast, etc., and time each step.
“Think through the steps you’ll take before you leave the house. Gather belongings and double check directions, if needed, the night before. Avoid getting sidetracked as you head toward the door by reminding yourself repeatedly “I’m leaving now. I’m going to the car.” (ADDitude Magazine.)
Then, have the intention to get to all your appointments 15 minutes early just in case something unexpected happens along the way. Bring a book or magazine with you in case you truly are early and don’t want to hang out with nothing to do.
How Much Time Does It Take?
People with ADHD also often don’t calculate adequately how long it takes to take care of a particular task or project. They end up underestimating the amount of time needed to get to completion. This contributes to the problem.
When it’s a routine task to be done, set a timer that goes forward and time yourself. Then, in the future, you will know approximately how long it takes to do that task. If it’s something bigger, like planting in the garden, estimate how long it will take to do each step along the way, and then add in an extra half an hour to each step just to give yourself a cushion. Then when you are doing your planting, actually time each step so that you know how to estimate for the next time.
And finally, wear a watch and place an old fashioned analog clock in each room you spend time in so that you become more aware of time ticking away. Make friends with alarms and use them to remind you of when it’s time to start something and when it’s time to stop. Have different alarm sounds for different activities to make it harder to ignore them.
And make sure you schedule time to have fun!