Time management is another one of the executive functions. Weakness in the ability to manage time, sometimes called time blindness, can result in huge difficulties for individuals with ADHD.
Imagine how a day would start if you had no sense of the passage of time. If, for example, your alarm succeeded in waking you and you stumbled into the shower, you would have no way of knowing how long you had been in there. When you finally dried off and managed to look at a clock, you’d see that you had spent so long in the shower that there was barely enough time to throw on your clothes and dash out the door if you had any hope of being on time for work.
And that’s just how your day started. It could go downhill from there if you missed scheduled meetings or took three times the allotted time to complete a letter you had to write. Without some external supports to guide you in making time a reality, your life could quickly become a series of missed deadlines and apologies.
The good news is that there are ways to compensate for a weak sense of time. The first step has to be that you actually acknowledge that it is a problem for you. It may take some years to get to that point, but when you do, you can get to work making time visible to your brain.
Each individual will find their own unique set of tools and strategies to help them see time. These could include analog clocks; paper planners with daily, weekly, and monthly views; timers; alarms; apps on phones or computers; flow charts posted on bathroom mirrors; scheduled weekly planning time to be sure everything is on next week’s calendar; large white board calendars for individual and family schedules; family members or assistants with internal clocks who are enlisted to nudge and remind, etc.
There’s no denying that it can be a challenge to live in a time-based world with little or no sense of time, but with a spirit of curiosity and adventure and the help of a support network of family members, colleagues, an ADHD coach, etc., a system can be created that fills in for where the brain is not quite up to the job. Some of those systems can even become habits — over time!
Linda Swanson is an ADHD Coach in Warrenton, Virginia. She and her husband, Neil, are partners at Free To Be Coaching, LLC, where they coach in person or by phone, Skype, or FaceTime. They coach students from middle school through college as well as adults of all ages, and they also facilitate two support groups for parents of children with ADHD. Linda and Neil are both graduates of the ADD Coach Academy and are credentialed by the International Coach Federation and the Professional Association of ADHD Coaches. Linda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 508-4774.