Time Blindness

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

— Russell A. Barkley, PhD

Color blindness is the decreased ability to see color or differences in color.

Color is visual, making it easy for anyone to understand the concept of color blindness. We can illustrate the difference simply by adjusting hues and saturation.

Time blindness is much more difficult to visualize.

Those of us who have ADHD experience time differently from other people. This is really hard for most people to believe.

— Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D.

People with ADHD are often late and severely over/under estimate how long things will take. This is because they primarily recognize only two times: "now" and "not now".

When my wife tells me dinner will be ready in 10 minutes, what I hear is "dinner is not ready now." A really important project is due in 3 weeks? It's not due now.

Only when I convince myself that it's due now, can I suddenly fly into action and try to get it done in the short time remaining.

Coping with time blindness

To better track and understand time, it must be manifested into physical space.

  • Visual timers. These use various elements like shrinking pie shapes to represent the passage of time.
  • Pomodoro technique. Work for 25 minutes, break for 5 minutes. This helps you break from hyperfocus and not waste time.
  • Practice estimating. Using a stopwatch, estimate how long projects will take and compare your results.