Time management can often seem like an elusive art, particularly for women grappling with ADHD. Enter a significant aspect of ADHD called "time blindness." Let's delve into what this means, how it manifests in daily life, and explore practical tips for managing it effectively.
What is Time Blindness?
Time blindness is a term often used to describe the difficulty some individuals with ADHD experience in perceiving and managing the passage of time. It's not about forgetfulness or laziness; it's more about the brain's internal clock not keeping accurate time. It is the inability to feel time passing. It is also the inability to estimate how long things will take. For someone with time blindness, an hour can feel like minutes and vice versa. This discrepancy can lead to challenges in planning, punctuality, and prioritizing tasks.
How Time Blindness Appears in Everyday Life
Recognizing time blindness in daily life is crucial for developing strategies to manage it. Here are some common ways it shows up:
1. **Chronic Lateness**: Struggling to estimate how long tasks will take can often result in being late for appointments, meetings, or social engagements. We always think we can fit in "one more thing." (spoiler alert - you usually can't.)
2. **Missed Deadlines**: Without a clear sense of how much time has passed or is needed for a task, deadlines can sneak up unexpectedly. This is especially true for long-term projects like a big project at work and also personal things like saving for retirement or a home, taking care of yourself now so you don’t have health issues later, and more. We always think we have more time than we have and then "bam!" retirement is here and you have no savings.
3. **Over or Underestimating Task Duration**: Routine tasks might take longer than anticipated, or there could be a rush to complete things that actually need more time.
4 Tips to Manage Time Blindness
1. **Use External Time Cues**: Rely on alarms, timers, and apps specifically designed for time management. Setting multiple alarms – one as a starting cue and another as a finishing reminder – can help in keeping track of time for specific tasks. You can also get creative. For example, make a playlist that is X minutes long that you play when you are getting ready in the morning. You know that when the playlist ends you have 15 more minutes before you have to leave.
2. **Time Blocking**: Allocate specific blocks of time for different activities or tasks in your day. This method helps in visualizing how much time is actually available and can be particularly effective when combined with a digital or paper planner. For example, I block out time for only filming, time for only editing, or time for only writing, etc. I don't combine these activities because that's when I get sidetracked. I know I only have X amount of time and that keeps me more focused on that task to get as much done as I can in the time I have blocked out for it.
3. **Mindfulness and Reflection**: Regularly practicing mindfulness can enhance your awareness of the present moment, which in turn can improve your perception of time. Also, reflect on your day or week to understand where time was spent effectively and where adjustments might be needed.
4. **Accountability"": Body doubling or other types of accountability don't just help you 'do the thing.' They help you stay accountable to your deadlines, etc. If you schedule time to work with another person on a project or use services like FocusMate.com (my fave!), which is a virtual version of body doubling, you are more likely to do what needs to be done on a more consistent basis. That consistency helps to avoid the last-minute "Oh no!" of not having something done on time.
Remember, managing time blindness is a journey of self-awareness and continuous adjustment. It's not about perfection, but about finding what strategies work best for you. Embrace this journey with patience and curiosity and always be open to trying new methods until you find your rhythm.