Time Blindness

Hello friend,

One of the most obvious symptoms of ADHD is constant lateness and procrastination.

I used to be late to every class, every appointment, every interview, every job. Constantly walking in late and hoping my teacher/boss/etc didn't notice.

I usually had plenty of time to get there, but a few minutes before I needed to leave the house, I would suddenly remember 20 things that were really important and I knew I could squeeze in.

But it was a lie.

These things happen because people with ADHD fail to see time as a neurotypical does. We have a blindspot that severs our connection with understanding time.

Listen to these quotes about time from some of the most prominent voices in the world of ADHD research:

ADHD is, to summarize it in a single phrase, time blindness.

​— Dr. Russell Barkley, PhD

In the world of ADHD, there are basically only two times. There is now, and there is not now. Not until 'not now' butts up against 'now' do we even notice it.

​—Dr. Edward Hallowell, M.D.

When all you experience of time is "now" and "not now", it is difficult to know how much time you really have left before needing to leave for that upcoming appointment.

Some of the ways to cope with this reality seem really simple and basic, but can really make a difference.

  • Visual timers. I personally use a Time Timer (affiliate link) which are great—I own several—but there are several other types of visual timers that work as well. ​ Just make sure you use one that visually shows time, and not one with just standard clock hands. ​
  • Pomodoro technique. You can use your visual timer for this, or just set a countdown alarm. ​ The basic idea is to work for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break, but I often adjust these times depending on what I'm doing. Just make sure to take that break! ​
  • Practice estimating. This seems silly, because we aren't aware of our time blindness so it doesn't seem like it will be effective. But just try it! ​ For tasks you are going to work on, estimate how long you think it will take and then use an actual stopwatch to count. Then compare your times. You'll be astonished at what you learn (and you can improve your estimations over time!)

I hope this helps! It's made a big difference for me, though it's not a cure. I still struggle with being late, just not nearly as much as I used to. 😅

Stay focused,

Jesse J. Anderson

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Quote of the week

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.

— Albert Einstein