How To Deal With Time Blindness in ADHD

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Time has been a perpetual wrestle for me. I’m all the time late, and I’ve by no means—critically, by no means—absolutely accomplished a to-do record. One thing that might take one other particular person an hour would possibly take me three. I fake to snigger it off as quirky conduct, however deep down, I really feel insufficient and, frankly, somewhat damaged. It wasn’t till lately that I realized there’s a reputation for the conundrum I’ve been dealing with: “time blindness,” or an incapability to evaluate the passing of time and the various struggles that include that.

Time blindness is broadly related to attention-deficit/hyperactivity dysfunction (ADHD), and though psychiatrist Sasha Hamdani, MD, notes that it’s not a medical time period, nor a part of the factors for ADHD within the Diagnostic and Statistical Handbook of Psychological Problems (DSM-5), it’s a really actual problem within the neurodivergent neighborhood. In reality, a 2021 review of time perception among adults with ADHD1 referred to as for associated signs, like inaccuracies in time estimation, to be included within the subsequent revision of the DSM.


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The idea of time blindness, then, is a “colloquial manner” of encapsulating how an individual with ADHD would possibly relate to time, says Dr. Hamdani, or the methods wherein time may seem to pass them by2.

Likelihood is, you’ve felt time velocity up or decelerate, relying in your circumstances: It’d fly once you’re having enjoyable, crawl once you’re bored, or virtually disintegrate earlier than your very eyes once you’re on a deadline. ADHD can take this subjective expertise of time to its extremes. “For me, a minute can really feel like an hour, or a minute can really feel like a second,” says Dr Hamdani, who has ADHD herself. “It’s only a very totally different gauge relying on how energetic my mind is in the mean time.”

The connection between time blindness and ADHD

There are a number of explanation why ADHD could make the passing of time so difficult to evaluate. Difficulties with consideration regulation and differences in temporal processing3 end in signs like hyperfocusing, on the one hand, and distractibility, on the opposite. And each can contribute to the feeling of time blindness.

“After we’re , we hyperfocus,” says ADHD coach Tracy Otsuka, writer of ADHD for Smart Ass Women. “That may result in time blindness as a result of we’re so into what we’re doing that we overlook what we wished to do.” On this state of being, minutes or hours can fall away with out you actually noticing. It’s not not like being in a flow state, wherein time is usually felt to be standing nonetheless.

“[Hyperfocusing] can result in time blindness as a result of we’re so into what we’re doing that we overlook what we wished to do.” —Tracy Otsuka, ADHD coach

If, in contrast, you’re hopping from process to process—as can also be widespread with ADHD—it’s exhausting to estimate how a lot time one thing really takes, says behavioral neuroscientist and board-certified psychiatrist Zoe Martinez, MD, PhD, a clinician at ADHD telehealth firm Done. As an example, having a shower would possibly take 20 minutes in concept. But when within the course of, you determine to clean your towels, curate a bathe playlist, and at last attempt your new face masks, you can double or triple that point. Such distractions can simply trigger you to lose observe of time (cue: time blindness), which makes it exhausting to plan, arrive on time, and keep on observe all through the day.

“Generally folks consider distractions as different folks, however you possibly can stroll by means of your individual home and suppose, ‘I wish to work on that,’” says Dr. Martinez, and simply as rapidly distract your self from no matter you had been doing or deliberate to start out doing.

By an analogous token, of us with ADHD are often time optimists, too, that means they’ve the next tendency than their neurotypical friends to overestimate how much time4 they’ve and the way a lot they’ll be capable to accomplish inside it. So, if a deadline isn’t within the fast future, it seems like they’ve on a regular basis on this planet to fulfill it—which, in flip, makes them liable to procrastination.

“We’ve got shorter time horizons,” explains Jessica McCabe, host of the YouTube channel “How to ADHD” and writer of the forthcoming ebook How to ADHD: An Insider’s Guide to Working with Your Brain (Not Against It). “It takes longer for a process to land on our psychological plate as one thing that we have to get began on.”

Learn how to acknowledge time blindness

Operating late, procrastinating, overcommitting—all of those might be examples of time blindness in motion. McCabe says the vast majority of folks with ADHD self-report points with time administration. And productiveness coach Donna McGeorge says she’s seen that patterns like falling wanting deadlines and struggling to get began with initiatives are typically amplified in her purchasers who’ve ADHD. So when you’ve got an ADHD prognosis, a few of these experiences could sound acquainted.

Operating late or falling behind

“If somebody is unable to precisely assess time, it turns into tough for them to plan forward for issues which can be arising sooner or later,” says Dr. Hamdani. That goes for the brief time period and the long run. Scheduling a day of labor, planning forward to fulfill a mission deadline, or ensuring you arrive on time are actual challenges for folks with time blindness.

Feeling a disconnect with time

It’s widespread for folks with time blindness and ADHD to really feel significantly out of sync with time. “Some folks have a very sharp sense of time and might inform how a lot time has handed,” says McCabe. “We frequently can’t.”

Underneath- or overestimating how lengthy issues will take

“Not solely are we not sensing time passing the best way that others do, however we’re additionally not all the time going to be correct when it comes to how lengthy we expect one thing ought to take us,” says McCabe, of individuals with ADHD. In spite of everything, in case your estimation of what an hour seems like is for much longer or shorter than it really is, it could be robust so that you can predict whether or not you’d want one hour or two (or three… ) to get one thing executed.

Laying aside beginning one thing

There are lots of explanation why an individual with ADHD would possibly procrastinate a process, however in some instances, time blindness is guilty. McCabe says an individual would possibly put one thing off considering they’ve loads of time, solely to seek out that the duty takes them longer than they anticipated attributable to distractions that they didn’t account for of their estimation.

How does time blindness have an effect on on a regular basis life?

Planning forward and finishing duties on time is an integral a part of reaching each short-term and long-term objectives, and time administration is crucial to our well-being, says McGeorge. “After we falter,” she says, “procrastination [and] stress can hinder our private {and professional} progress.”

Time blindness can even impression others’ views of you and the way a lot they really feel like they’ll belief or depend on you. In spite of everything, when folks rely upon you to reach at a selected time or flip one thing in by a deadline, failing to take action—regardless of the rationale—lets them down. And it’s past irritating to return up wanting others’ expectations once you’re attempting your greatest to maintain up. “It seems to be like we’re not attempting exhausting sufficient, or we don’t care once we’re late for the seventeenth time,” says McCabe.

In actuality, folks with ADHD are simply working with totally different neurobiology. However the feeling of letting your self and others down because of scuffling with time administration can set off destructive feelings, like nervousness, guilt, and disgrace. “That disgrace that we really feel, that may get in the best way of any technique being applied in any respect,” says McCabe. Getting caught in a disgrace spiral surrounding time blindness makes it even tougher to determine tips on how to take care of it and work by means of challenges.

8 ideas for tips on how to take care of time blindness

1. Make time seen

“One of many issues that’s actually vital for the ADHD mind is for issues to be seen,” says Otsuka. And that may apply to time, too. Analog clocks are nice for making extra visible the passing of time, and Dr. Hamdani additionally recommends getting a visual timer that changes color as each hour passes. This manner, you’re not simply relying in your innate sense of time passing and even the possibility that you simply have a look at a clock repeatedly to register the time; you’re utilizing your sense of sight, says Dr. Hamdani, to see the time “transferring” by the minute.

She additionally suggests utilizing music to maintain observe of time. Acquainted songs and albums could have a definite starting and finish that may show you how to measure and be aware of time. “You’re nonetheless working based on a timer, however you’re utilizing audio cues to get there as a substitute of discrete minutes and hours,” says Dr. Hamdani.

2. Develop your time knowledge

Time knowledge is a manner of describing how educated you might be about how lengthy issues take you to do; the extra of it you will have, the extra correct your estimations of time wanted to do one thing might be.

One option to construct up your time knowledge is to “guess how lengthy a process will take, after which observe how lengthy you really spend doing it,” says McCabe. The extra usually you time your self doing issues, the nearer your estimates might be to actuality, and the extra realistically you’ll be capable to plan your schedule, says Otsuka, so that you don’t wind up with deadlines you possibly can’t really meet.

3. Plan backward

When McCabe started writing her ebook, she knew the faraway deadline may make it simple for her to procrastinate. (Keep in mind that idea of a short while horizon?) So she broke down the work into smaller duties and communicated along with her editor to construct an accountability plan. That manner, she was working towards extra frequent deadlines for smaller workloads (quite than one massive one), which helped her determine how a lot time she’d really want and schedule her work accordingly.

“[For people with ADHD], time just isn’t intuitive,” explains McCabe. “It requires doing an equation; we really must put it on paper, and plan it out, and make time actual.”

4. Attempt a planner

McCabe says planners might be useful, however provided that you’ve constructed up your time knowledge first. “When you’re attempting to accommodate a mind that doesn’t perceive time with the identical mind that doesn’t perceive time, you’re going to create a calendar for your self that’s actually not one thing you possibly can keep on with,” says McCabe.

Schedule issues in your planner based on how a lot time you know you will have for them (ideally, primarily based on having actually timed the duties) versus how a lot time you want they might take to finish. McCabe additionally recommends leaving buffer time between duties. This manner, if one thing goes improper or takes additional time, it gained’t throw off your entire schedule and danger making you late for (or placing you behind on) every successive assembly or process.

5. Make lists you could rejoice

As time optimists, folks with ADHD usually create to-do lists that go manner past a sensible capability. While you solely obtain 5 of the 20 issues on an inventory, Otsuka says, you possibly can really feel overwhelmed and perpetually behind. (It’s harder to be ok with the 5 belongings you did do, when 15 issues are left undone.) These destructive feelings can, in flip, maintain you from feeling profitable and make transferring ahead all of the tougher—which may really worsen your capacity to time-manage.

The reply? Write to-do lists you could really end (that means, shorter ones). Dr. Martinez additionally recommends breaking down duties into smaller steps so you possibly can see that you simply’re really finishing issues, even once you don’t end the whole lot of a selected process. And provides your self permission to rejoice each certainly one of your achievements, regardless of how small.

“Each single time you cross one thing off your to-do record, you are feeling a pop of dopamine,” says Otsuka. “That’s constructive emotion, and that generates extra constructive emotion that permits you to transfer on to the following factor.”

6. Discover the system that works for you

For folks with ADHD, managing time and getting issues executed is all about having a system in place. And what you won’t understand is that you simply already do have a system, Otsuka says. “There are issues that you simply’ve needed to get executed,” she says. “You’ve used the system to get these issues executed.”

Suppose again to a time once you managed to finish one thing on time, and determine what labored and the way you would possibly replicate it. Possibly you broke a process into all of its constituent duties, wrote them down, and crossed them out as you probably did them; or possibly you set a timer for each hour, on the hour, and used it as a recurring cue to maneuver to the following merchandise in your record.

There’s no proper or improper right here, however quite, that is about experimenting and discovering what you want. “It doesn’t matter what works for everybody else,” says Otsuka. The vital factor is that the system you land on works for you, and also you’re ready to make use of it constantly, says McGeorge.

7. Give your self a break from time

When you’re racing towards the clock, hyperfocusing can pose some challenges; in any case, getting sucked into one process for hours can maintain you from doing different issues that have to get executed. However finally, the power to hyperfocus on issues that curiosity you can too be a present when used to your benefit.

McCabe emphasizes the significance of giving your mind a break from adhering to time restraints and letting it thrive in its pure circulate state. “If we have now a mission that we’re engaged on, it’s really higher for us to have time in our schedule, or whole days, the place time doesn’t matter,” she says, “and we are able to lose observe of time, in order that we are able to get into that circulate.”

This manner, you possibly can reap the artistic advantages of devoting your full consideration to a process for a devoted time period, with out struggling any penalties of falling behind on different issues.

8. Communicate to an ADHD coach or therapist who focuses on ADHD

If not one of the above ideas appear to be working, it could be price your whereas to attach with an knowledgeable who understands ADHD and time blindness, and who might help you determine how precisely your time notion could also be preserving you from time administration. Specifically, an ADHD coach or therapist specializing in ADHD might help you higher perceive your time roadblocks and take a look at totally different options to get round them.

In any case, it’s additionally vital to provide your self loads of compassion as you discover ways to take care of time blindness, and to keep in mind that it is a actual wrestle that plenty of folks face. With due time, nonetheless, you can hack your schedule and your system to your distinctive mind with a purpose to make higher sense of time.


Properly+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, current, strong research to again up the knowledge we share. You may belief us alongside your wellness journey.

  1. Weissenberger, Simon et al. “Time Notion is a Focal Symptom of Consideration-Deficit/Hyperactivity Dysfunction in Adults.” Medical science monitor : worldwide medical journal of experimental and medical analysis vol. 27 e933766. 17 Jul. 2021, doi:10.12659/MSM.933766
  2. Ptacek, Radek et al. “Medical Implications of the Notion of Time in Consideration Deficit Hyperactivity Dysfunction (ADHD): A Evaluation.” Medical science monitor : worldwide medical journal of experimental and medical analysis vol. 25 3918-3924. 26 Could. 2019, doi:10.12659/MSM.914225
  3. Toplak, Maggie E et al. “Temporal data processing in ADHD: findings thus far and new strategies.” Journal of neuroscience strategies vol. 151,1 (2006): 15-29. doi:10.1016/j.jneumeth.2005.09.018
  4. Zheng, Que et al. “Time Notion Deficits in Kids and Adolescents with ADHD: A Meta-analysis.” Journal of consideration problems vol. 26,2 (2022): 267-281. doi:10.1177/1087054720978557


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