Ask the Experts

My Chronic Lateness Is Threatening My Job Security

Always late to work? Your boss can’t be too thrilled. Here’s how to overcome common ADHD stumbling blocks like poor sleep and time blindness that lead to chronic lateness.

Q: “I am hardworking and successful in my job, but my boss is getting more irritated by my tardiness. I have tried to be punctual, but I always seem to oversleep or get behind in the morning.”

The easiest way to solve this is to have a talk with the boss: will she let you work late on the days you come in late? Can you establish a flex schedule? If not, you have to do this the hard way.

Let’s begin by figuring out the oversleeping. Try adopting universally recommended sleep enhancement methods, such as daily physical activity and a consistently timed bedtime routine that allows for eight hours of sleep — dim lights in the evening, avoiding LED screens for the last hour before bed, and a white noise machine to mask disturbances in the night. Now add some ADHD-friendly technical support. Set an alarm on your phone to indicate “bedtime routine begins.” If you must read before bed, get a Kindle Paperwhite (it’s LED-free and makes less clutter than books or magazines). Download a white noise app (for travel), and purchase a mechanical version for home. Invest in a loud alarm and place it across the room, so you have to get up to turn it off.

[Free Resource: Keep Track of Your Time]

As it turns out, conquering chronic lateness and staying ahead in the morning begins at night. In fact, the first steps of your P.M. routine should be about getting everything ready for the next day: your clothes picked out and put aside, your purse, keys, and phone at the door. Keep a list of steps either taped to the wall or on your phone. Finally, reverse-engineer your morning, adding time to every step, and set your A.M. alarm accordingly. If it takes you 20 minutes to dress, schedule 25. Ten minutes to eat? Schedule 15.

If you arrive early, you can play on your phone until the workday starts, take a long walk at lunch, or maybe even leave early! All of this sounds exhausting, but is it more exhausting than worrying about your job security?

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