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Time Sense, Time Management - Tools for Success with ADHD

Posted Mar 18 2011 10:21pm

At work I use a BlackBerry to communicate with colleagues - I work in a fast-paced IT environment and need to be aware of alerts, issues, and be quickly available to any number of people in our large organization. I love my BlackBerry.

With my recent diagnosis of Adult ADHD, I wanted to find a number of methods and tools to help me with my time management. I have fairly poor time management skills because I let time pass me by. I don't have an especially proficient internal clock, and I also fall prey easily to the "just one last thing" syndrome.

For example, I know I have a meeting to go to, or it is time for lunch or to go home. And for some reason or another (and maybe more than one), I somehow dread the transition of leaving and having some time to be in my head, so I busy myself with enough so that I'll end up having to rush and hurry to my next appointment. This gives me a good squirt of dopamine in my ADHD frontal lobes and all is well again. At least to my cute little ADHD brain.

The first thing I do is I use the 'New Alarm' option in Calendar to set a recurring alarm for when I need to get hustling to get to work on time (otherwise I get lost in my newsreader on my computer - 'just one last article'!) and also I set one for a quarter to five in the afternoon to remind me to begin packing up, and wrapping up my day. This method is extremely useful to me. It is a type of ' pattern planning ' that goes a long way to bolster some of my habitual and ADHD-caused deficiencies.

Some folks recommend having clocks put up on walls all over the place, but I also came across a cool application that loads quietly in the background of my BlackBerry. It is a free download called 'EveryHour' by BerryBlow and it sounds an unobtrusive tone every hour or half-an-hour (depending on how you configure it) during your waking hours (you set the start and end of your day). This 'dingggg' is quiet, but alerts me to the passing of time. You can also custom set a sound of your own, but I find the supplies sounds are adequate, and in fact quite effective but do not interrupt meetings or conversations.

It is so useful to me. Hopefully it is helping to train me to develop my internal time sense, and help me get out of the rut, or the habit of doing "just one last thing" before an important appointment.

  • Which will result on me being on time more and more.
  • Which will result in positive feedback from peers and family. Which will result in greater self-esteem.
  • Which will result in a better impression left amongst others.
  • Which will improve my ADHD riddled life.
  • Which will please your friends and colleagues as you won't be late for their appointments.

Try it out if you have a BlackBerry. Not sure what is available for iPhones, but I'm sure there is something out there for you too. Even a digital watch can be programmed with alerts.

Anything you can use externally to reinforce and remind yourself of the passing of time should be useful if you are an ADHDer.

Bonnie Mincu is an ADHD coach . She writes the following about time sense deficits in ADHDers:

"The first challenge most ADDers have is not having a "time sense." You're late because you really have no idea how long things take. That affects getting places, finishing projects... just about everything in life! I developed a paper-and-pencil tool, the Time Sense Exercise, especially for my ADD coaching clients. It's deceptively simple, and can make an enormous difference in your life. So you won't be embarrassed by dramatically under-estimating how long things take you. "
A Time Sense, Time Management article (PDF document) is available here for download , and a shorter Time Sense Exercise Tool (PDF document) is available here for download . I highly recommend that you print these out and learn them as part of your continuing education in ADHD matters.



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