With these seven strategies for winning the time-management game, tardiness will be a bad habit of the past. Plus, tips for those who hate arriving too soon!
by Tiffany deSilva
Chronically late? You're not alone. I'll let you in on a little secret: Many adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) hate to arrive early almost as much as they hate to show up late. Waiting at the doctor's office for an extra 15 minutes before an appointment can be excruciating. So how do you arrive on time while minimizing your wait time? Follow these seven simple time-management strategies and never be late or too early again.
1. Make a game of showing up on time. Most of us with ADD/ADHD will enthusiastically embrace even the most mundane task if we can figure out how to make it interesting. Getting from point A to B isn’t all that exciting, but it can be if you make a game out of it. The object of the game is to get to your destination as near as possible to your targeted arrival time. No later, no sooner. Can you do it?
2. Determine your targeted arrival time. Your targeted arrival time is the time at which you would, ideally, like to walk through the doors of your destination. To determine your targeted arrival time, figure out the earliest arrival time you can endure and the latest time you can arrive without being late or stressed out. For example, if you have a hair appointment scheduled for 2 p.m., your targeted arrival time might be from 1:58 p.m. to 2 p.m. If you need to get to a business meeting that starts at 2 p.m. and you need to be seated in a chair and prepared to talk, your targeted arrival time might be between 1:40 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
3. Figure out how long it really takes to get there. Many adults with ADD/ADHD have trouble accurately estimating how long something will take. When it comes to driving, it is common to underestimate the drive time, but it is not uncommon to overestimate time as well. Even if you’ve made the trip before, plug the address of your destination into a GPS or an online map search engine the night before your appointment. This will give you a more accurate travel time to work with. In this game, precision is essential to hitting your target.
4. Determine your departure time. Your departure time is the time at which you walk out of your house. To determine your departure time, start by adding 15 minutes to your estimated travel time. This time includes five minutes to transition from the house to the car (e.g., buckling up, programming the GPS), five minutes to transition from the car to your destination (e.g., parking, walking in), and five minutes for the unexpected (e.g., a train passing, Sunday drivers, or a traffic accident). This gives you your total travel time. Next, subtract your total travel time from your targeted arrival time. This gives you your departure time. For instance, if you want to arrive at the hair salon or barber shop at 2 p.m. and it takes 30 minutes to drive there, you will need to walk out of your house by 1:15 p.m. Set a reminder alarm to go off before your departure time that says, "Leave now!" Note: Add more transition time if you have small children, if there is a very long walk from the parking lot to your destination, or if you must travel during rush hour (see below).
5. Avoid rush hour. Avoid scheduling an appointment that requires you to travel during high-traffic times. If you don't add in enough cushion time to adjust for the traffic, you'll be late. If you add in too much time and traffic is running smoothly, you’ll be (gasp!) too early.
6. Always be first. Whenever possible, schedule your appointments so you are the first one on the list to be seen. That way you're not stuck waiting around if your service provider is running behind schedule. The best time to schedule an appointment? First in the morning or first in the afternoon. Everything in between is too unpredictable.
7. Be flexible. If you don’t arrive within your targeted time on your first try, don't despair. Chances are you just need to tweak your strategy a little bit. Perhaps you just need to adjust your departure time by a minute or two. Maybe you need to prepare a take-along bag the night before and put it by the door so you can leave on time. Don't be afraid to strategize and play the game by your own unique rules.
Tiffany deSilva, MSW, CPO-CD, is an ADHD coach, a professional organizer, and the owner of Order and Balance, LLC.