A client of mine recently said to me “I have to work on my time management but I never get to it!” Does this sound familiar? Problems with time management seem to lie at the heart of the difficulties faced by many adults with ADHD and it is perhaps one of the least appreciated of the challenges many experience.
Challenges with time for people with ADHD can include everything from not being able to accurately judge or estimate how long something will take to complete, to a lack of feeling of time passing, to having difficulty remembering the months of the year in order.
There are many benefits to being able to manage your time. When you are in control of your time you will find yourself more relaxed, you will be able to accomplish what you want to, know what tasks you need to do and be able to prioritize and not over commit yourself. Since many people with ADHD have so much trouble understanding time and truly cannot internalize how time works, how can someone with ADHD ever expect to be on time?
Below are some useful strategies:
- Externalize time by creating visual, audible or tactile (sense of touch) cues, such as analog clocks, timers, watches, alarms, etc. Have them everywhere! Your kitchen, office and bathroom! Set them accurately!
- Use a SINGLE calendar or planning system, whatever kind you like and always carry it with you. Set aside time early in the week to plan ahead and take 5 minutes each morning to review the day ahead.
- Maintain a TASK list of five items each day. It should include single action tasks not projects. As you complete each task, cross them off. You can add more if you complete the original five. If not completed and they are still a priority, add them to the next day’s task list.
- Give yourself more time to perform a task then you expect it to take. A general rule of thumb: Multiply the time you think the task will take times two! For example if you think it will take 10 minutes allow 20! If you get done early…it’s all a bonus.
“Back plan” Schedule time to DO the projects on your list, don’t just write down due dates.
- Before you say “yes” or agree to take on a new task, look at your planner, review what you have already committed to and decide if you can realistically add it to your load.