September 14, 2023
Sometimes time seems like my nemesis. There’s either not enough of it and too much to do or there’s too much unstructured time and difficulty choosing how to spend it. Keeping track of time can be particularly challenging for those living with ADHD because of time blindness. Many neurodivergent kids and adults simply don’t feel time. It’s hard to keep track of when and how it passes. For me, there never seems to be enough time to do all of the things I want to do in a given period. Yes, my list may be unrealistic but still I wrestle with arriving promptly to activities and events more often than I would like to admit. In fact, I’m always a bit surprised when some of my clients who struggle mightily with organization, recall and prioritizing, arrive exactly on the hour for our appointment.
Our days typically run on appointments, deadlines and time-sensitive obligations at school, work and socially. Effective time management is an important executive functioning skill to master for considerate, effective living. Time blindness–the loss of awareness about time–makes it challenging to plan meetings or activities, shift from one thing to another and manage productivity.
Using Time Effectively
Understanding and using time effectively is a key executive functioning skill that takes maturity to develop, and, happily, responds well to direct instruction. Because this skill requires practice to master for kids (and adults) with ADHD, it’s important to start nurturing it early and consistently. Children and teens with ADHD have “Now/Not Now” internal clocks. They may have a hard time grasping that a few minutes feels different than an hour. Helping them develop an awareness of these differences by using a timer is the first step in setting them up for time management success.
Folks with ADHD tend to do two frustrating things related to time management that just don’t work. Either they underestimate how long something will take and then need to rush to get it done at the last minute OR they overestimate how much time a task will take, feel overwhelmed and don’t start at all. When people are equipped with useful skills and knowledge of how to track time with more awareness, it’s a win-win for everybody.
I’ve found that there are five effective strategies that parents of children and teens with ADHD can use to counter time-blindness. Let’s explore how…