There is Eastern Time, Central Time, Pacific Time — then there is ADHD Time.
Our internal clocks weren’t made with Swiss precision, nor do they keep time in seconds and minutes. We see time not as a sequence but as a parade of events that are connected to the people, activities, and emotions involved in them. We feel time rather than experience it. This explains our stormy relationships with clocks and deadlines.
What can we do? Here are great strategies that ADHD experts use in their own lives that have allowed them to befriend Father Time.
ERIC TIVERS, LCSW, MSSW
ADHD coach, host of the podcast “ADHD reWired” (erictivers.com)
1. I do not answer my office phone until I have written down my plan for the day. I love technology, but I use paper and pen for planning purposes. They allow me to see a lot of information at once. With pen and paper, I can create a visual plan. When I write something down, it creates a stronger connection in my brain.
2. I don’t just plan my day; I plan my week and my month. By planning days, weeks, and months, I make time to do things each day that are important to me. This strategy lets me see the big picture and the daily details.
3. When I work on my computer, I use the Pomodoro technique — 25 minutes of working on one task, using a timer, followed by a three- to five-minute break, also using a timer. I repeat the sequence four times before taking a longer break. Twenty-five minutes is the ideal amount of time to maximize focus while staving off hyperfocus.
4. I limit the amount of things that I work on during the day. I often have several projects going on at any given time, but I limit myself to three (sometimes two) a day. When I try to focus on everything, I get nothing done — the key word being “done.” There is a difference between being busy and being productive. To me, productivity means working on something and finishing it.
5. The key to productivity has more to do with energy management than with time management. When I get good sleep and exercise, I accomplish more because I have more energy. This makes the difference between remembering that I need to return a call and returning it right away.
6. I always wear a watch, and I have my daily plan in front of me all day.
TESS MESSER, MPH
Founder of primarilyinattentiveadd.com, author of Commanding Attention: A Parent and Patient Guide to More ADHD Treatment
7. I put every appointment/meeting/lacrosse practice/robotics competition/social event/payment due/important task in the electronic calendar on my phone, and I use Google Calendar. I set the entry so that my phone beeps and displays a reminder of the task. I set the reminder for at least an hour before the event or appointment, and sometimes I set it a week before for a bill that is due. 8. I review my calendar for the upcoming week every Sunday night before I go to bed. I am ready to go on Monday morning.
9. I do tasks, if possible, right away. Otherwise, I’ll forget them or procrastinate.
10. I do not argue, disagree, or get difficult when someone (spouse, child, friend) suggests a different time schedule for getting to an appointment or completing a task. Just about everybody’s sense of time (how long it takes to get somewhere, how long it takes to do something) is better than mine.