Unlocking ADHD Writer, Jedt Virabhak, takes a look at what causes some people to be chronically late and provides some tips to resolve the issue of Time Blindness.
One of the most common challenges for ADHDers in their daily lives is time management. ADHD brains are simply programmed differently — they are wired for in-the-moment thought and action. It is therefore no surprise that those with ADHD struggle with time management as it requires long term planning, organization and sustained concentration.
Problems with Time Management
- Reaction to what’s in front of them – ADHDers are overly susceptible to external stimuli and react intensely to present events. This causes them to shift their attention to whatever is in front of them and respond immediately to basic desires and instincts, e.g., grabbing a snack to dispel a hunger pang. The impulsivity makes them easily distracted, unable to focus on the task at hand and take an inordinately long time to complete a task.
- Now and “Not Now” Thinking – A consequence of ADHDers reacting too heavily to the present is that they unknowingly divide their days and weeks into two broad categories: The present and the future. “The future” is simply not a very useful time frame when faced with a myriad of tasks with different requirements and deadlines. This lack of long-term thinking and planning means that ADHDers may miss deadlines and leave important tasks forgotten and unattended to. All in all, ADHDers have a poor concept of time and schedule which affects their overall ability to manage their time.
- Interest Based Behaviour – ADHDers find it difficult to focus on completing tasks they have little interest in as they are confronted with a lack of motivation and energy when working on such tasks. This results in procrastination, with ADHDers often carrying out activities that are more pleasant and engaging to them instead. They put off making progress on the task until it is too late.
Solutions for Time Management
- Eliminate Distractions – Eliminate sources of distraction and create a conducive working environment that allows for maximum sustained concentration. Sources of distraction may include electronic devices and food items. It may also be helpful to eat an ample amount of food and place a glass of water at the working table before starting work. This prevent trips to the kitchen, which would disrupt their train of thought and concentration.
- Create a schedule – ADHDers can start by listing all the tasks down and rank them in terms of urgency. Then, with the aid of a calendar, mark out specific times on specific days to focus on certain tasks. When working on each task, they should keep an active eye on the clock to pace themselves and ensure that they do not overrun the allotted time. Set alarms to indicate the start and end times of activities.
- Reward Yourself – Set incentives for completing each task, e.g., after completing a task, ADHDers can use their mobile device for half an hour.
- Urgency – Make the task urgent — some ADHDers do well under pressure. The adrenaline from seemingly being forced into a do or die situation may give them the needed energy to complete the task.