Time. It’s definitely a four-letter word when you have ADHD.
Sometimes it feels like everyone else has more of it. Like they have 26 hours in a day while we have 20 to accomplish everything we need to do.
While other days, it seems like our ADHD brains have an uncontrollable remote control that slows down or speeds up time. Right when we don’t want it to. It would be an incredible superpower if we could manage it.
Instead, we have a dysfunctional ADHD relationship with time.
What Exactly Is ADHD Time Management?
Time management isn’t really about being able to manage time itself. It’s about what you do with your time and how that impacts your future. Basically being able to prioritize what’s important, plan, start and finish tasks. Paying attention in a healthy way (not hyper-focusing) and shifting our attention and actions at will.
If you have ADHD, managing your time and planning can feel futile. We can start out with the best intentions but then we’re drawn to the shiny and have a hard time avoiding distractions. So we go off track.
We are consistently inconsistent – we can do something once or for a while and then not again (which can confuse our coworkers or family as to why we can’t manage our time ALL the time).
And time is elusive to us – we don’t see time like other people. You may have heard the term ‘Time Blindness’. We really can be blind to what is important RIGHT NOW or how long it takes to do a task. Or how much time has gone by. Or when that uncontrollable remote control messes with our sense of time.
Now why is this important? Well, if we ignore our issues with time, they can cost us friendships, marriages, jobs, and increase our ADHD tax making us pay with emotional, financial, stressful results. We don’t reach our goals or do the meaningful things.
GOOD NEWS: Luckily we can get BETTER at this. Not perfect. We’re still going to struggle with time, but it can be managed.
How to Uproot ADHD’s Warped Vision of Time
1. Stop telling yourself lies about time. We tell ourselves time lies all the time. That we will have more time, motivation, and energy in the future. But this is not true. It’s time to start incorporating the ADHD Code – I Won’t Have More Time Later! And start doing the things we need to do NOW.
2. Establish stronger boundaries. We give away our priorities and goals to the demands of others. Start saying no to other people’s stuff when it interferes with what you need to do (even if it seems more interesting). Prioritize what needs to get done – what YOU need to get done – over others’ agendas.
3. Keep your eyes on the time. To combat time blindness, you need to focus on the NOW / NOT NOW world we live in. We see the right now clearly – what is interesting or on fire. Everything in the future or the past goes into the NOT NOW category. Even if it is visible out on the horizon. This means we don’t do the big important stuff.
4. Start being aware of your time horizon (how close in time something needs to be before you consider acting on it). ADHD has a shorter time horizon than neuro-typical folks. Planning into the future is difficult because future events don’t hit our radar until the deadline comes closer into the NOW. When later becomes the NOW is when we shift into gear. Often this causes chaos, stress, etc. We have to learn how to disengage from the present and see into the future. I’ve learned to start looking a few weeks ahead on my calendar to see what’s coming up. This doesn’t mean I start working on the thing now; but I can start thinking about it so when it comes nearer I am ready to act.
5. Learn from history. We don’t learn from our past. Consequences of our actions become fuzzy. We enlarge our errors and minimize our wins. So it’s essential that we keep track of lessons, experiences, wins and learn from them. When you hear yourself thinking, “I’ll do that later”, take a moment to remember what has happened in the past when you’ve put things off.
Unless we begin to establish a better ADHD relationship with time, we won’t do what we need to do or even know what we need to do until it’s too late.
But we can get a clearer vision of time with work and practice…and time.
Want to have a better ADHD relationship with time? The ADHD Success Club focuses specifically on time management tools to help you set big picture goals and daily priorities, calibrate your calendar, and tame your tasks. We kick these modules off in November which means it’s perfect timing for you to sign up now by clicking here!
Additional resources – check out:
- Dana’s blog: ADHD’s Odd Relationship with Time
- Episode #120 – ADHD’s Warped Vision of Time
- Episode #36 of Kick Some ADHD podcast: Time Tracking Traps
- Episode #57 of Kick Some ADHD podcast: Stop Wasting Time with the “Would I?” Code
- Dana’s blog: A Killer ADHD Time Management Tip