Tips for Being on Time Despite ADHD

ADHD and Being on Time

Tips for Being on TimeI haven’t ever been the best of friends with time. I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until I was in my thirties, so for many years I didn’t know that my perception of time and everyone else’s were two different things.

Learning to tell the time in school was exceedingly difficult because to me, time was a progression of certain events. I knew that in the morning, I had to get up, eat breakfast, and go to school. The afternoon was for getting off the bus and the commencement of homework battles. The evening brought dinner and a bath before bed.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Unless it was the weekend, and then I was really out of whack. I loved the weekends for their lack of structure, but at the same time I struggled with the what-comes-next part. It made me feel off balance and I was always relieved to see Monday morning roll around, even though that meant school and homework.

That was before understanding that we ADHDers have a totally different understanding of what time is. Some would say it’s more of a misunderstanding, but let’s not split hairs. The point is that we have a nonlinear sense of time.

Now, and Not Now

This means we think in terms of ‘now’ and ‘not now’. It either is or it isn’t, there is no in between. Unless I have my planner in front of me and am looking at the thirty minute time intervals, ‘not now but sometime’ is as good as my brain can function. It’s like my trying to do math in my head. It just doesn’t work.


I need it in front of me to be able to visualize. My non ADHD family, who knows my limitations with time intimately, giggled when I informed them I’d be writing about tips for being on time. They giggled rather loudly.

“Ha,” my other half snorted over dinner. “Maybe you should list what not to do, in order to be on time. You know, because that list would be a lot longer – you have more experience with that angle.”

I love my other half very much, but he’s wrong.

The strange thing about my perception of time and the relationship I have with it is that while I may be semi-pro at procrastination and forget there is such a thing as time when caught in a hyper-focus state, I am hardly ever late. And when I am late, everyone else is too, as it’s due to a traffic accident or the never-ending highway construction projects. In other words, if I’m late, it’s the occurrence of events that are out of my control.

I’m almost always, without too many fails, early. I am more than qualified to help you out. Here’s my strategy for being on time.

Next page: getting to your destination with time to spare. 

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