Ask the Experts

Dear Organizing Coach: How Can I Become More Conscious of Time?

Picture this: you’re on your way to an important appointment, when suddenly you realize (yet again) that you haven’t given yourself nearly enough time to get there. Sound familiar? Time management is tough when you don’t feel the passage of time — a common pitfall for adults with ADHD. Here’s how you can become more in tune with the ticking of the clock.

An alarm clock on an illustrated background, represents our sense of time passing
Alarm clock on red background with white illustrations

Q: What is the trick for people who don’t feel or see time passing to make sure they’re on time for appointments? —atlmom


Dear Atlmom:

Hang analog clocks!

Yes! You heard me. My NUMBER ONE TOOL for learning about time is a good, old-fashioned analog clock. Simply put, an analog clock with hands lets you see time move — and where you stand in relation to the rest of the day. Analogs also help you understand how long it takes to complete a task and how much time you have before you need to go to another activity.

Seeing time move is a building block of time management and estimation. So hang a clock in every room of the house you use (including the bathroom) so you can see the passing of time. Wear an analog watch as well.

[Free Resource: Keep Track of Your Time]

Another trick: Say your time-planning strategies aloud to yourself. What does that look like? I had a client once who would say things like, “I have to pick my husband up at the train station at 6:30. It’s 5:45 now and it takes me 10 minutes to get there. What time should I leave to get to the station on time?” Just by talking it out, time consciousness can work its way into your brain and stay with you.

If you want more tips for time management, check out our one-hour “It’s About Time” video, chock full of tools to get you time managed. You can find it at products.orderoochaos.com. Good luck!


Organization guru Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

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  1. Seriously that talking your way through encourages a lot of strange looks. I know from experience its better performed in your car. It also works with your todo list.
    The Analog clocks work exceptionally well . I recently had 5 in one room. I now use a visual analog face alarm on my ipad which is set for all the regular repeating appointments like work and weekly Rehearsals monthly bank transfers. and the ical . With 2 ipads they have to be handled to turn the alarm off. Finally i use the microwave timer for all cooking activities so that i turn the meat , turn the oven down. Check the cooking etc. At 73 these are anecessity.

    1. I love how you have set up so many visual cues for yourself. External or visual support is what is necessary and vital to build time management skills. And on a side note, I talk to myself all the time!

  2. I’ve come to realize that I have to look at time in terms of duration. Saying something is due on 4/15 is meaningless to me. It sounds so far away but if I say something is due in 9 days, that means I only have 9 days to finish something. That shift is huge for me.

  3. I like the way you framed that. It reminds me very much how I was able to teach my son time when he was little. We used to frame everything by “sleeps.” I am going to steal this one.

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