Time & Productivity

Am I Wasting Time? Or Just Slowing Down? Pandemic Time and the ADHD Brain

Without commutes and PTA meetings and date nights, it’s easy to lose track of time. Every day feels like Wednesday, which is disconcerting and draining — but sometimes also liberating. Here, learn how the pandemic time warp has made it tough for ADDitude readers to stick to a healthy routine, maintain focus, and remember deadlines — but also freed up hours and neurons for new pursuits.

Wasting time in the pandemic - clock with no hands

What if wasting time is not a cardinal sin? What if ADHD brains run more smoothly when they can slow down? On the flipside, what was it about our normal, everyday routines that kept us upright and clear-eyed in a way we did not appreciate at the time? Will we ever feel grounded again?

Eleven months into the pandemic, we asked ADDitude readers to share their experiences with time during the strange and disorienting era. For a chance to win a Revibe Connect, some participants told us why they mourn the loss of their daily routines, while others said they feel grateful for the chance to focus on long-delayed home projects and spend more time with loved ones.

Read some of our favorite responses below, and enter to win a Revibe Connect by adding your comments in our February sweepstakes!

The Pros of Pandemic Time for ADHD Brains

“Time slowed down and it forced us to push the reset button on life. It was a welcome change.”

“Most American families are always on the go, between work, school, sports, lessons, parties, spending time with friends, etc. I found that a lifestyle like that was too hectic for our family and didn’t allow for enough quiet time — time to be mindful, focus on breathing, and fall away from the overstimulation. The pandemic has cleared our schedule and allowed more time for getting still, something that can be challenging with ADHD but also so necessary.”

“Since I am restricted mainly to my own home, I use the time I used to spend running around to outside activities to get back to the hobbies and interests that I let slip by in the past.”

[How to Manage Time in a Disorienting Pandemic: 4 Steps to Restore Order & Productivity]

“Before quarantine, I had been blissfully ignorant of my own ADHD challenges. Without the energy to keep up with unconscious coping mechanisms, my underlying symptoms became significantly more obvious. This has led to a lot of self-discovery and focus on self-care. Without the stress of the past year, I may have continued to live life by putting Band-Aids over my issues instead of addressing them head on.”

“I was able to get several projects done around the house, and now I have time to walk every morning.”

“The pandemic has liberated me from having to actually get to places on time. Instead of struggling with my ADHD brain to get out the door with ample time to drive to a building, park, and get to a waiting room, I simply click the link on my computer calendar and Zoom in! I have plenty of reminders on my laptop to prompt me.”

“I am not playing taxi cab driver to my children, running household errands, and fulfilling other demands. The pandemic has forced priorities and activities to change in our household. This has ended up being both frustrating and liberating at the same time.”

[Get This Free Download: 10 Rules for ADHD-Proof Productivity]

“During the pandemic I have found myself doing more organizing and cleaning around the house – it made me appreciate my home more.”

The Cons of Pandemic Time for ADHD Brains

“The most difficult thing is determining the difference between at-home work time, at-home family time, and at-home self-care time. With it all taking place at this one location, time seems like a meaningless construct.”

“I feel like I’m living in the Twilight Zone — lots of vast space and in between.”

“I can’t stick to any kind of schedule, which makes it really difficult to make plans. Sometimes I sleep during the day, and I’m awake at night. I have no external factors keeping me on a schedule. Even when I make my own weekly schedule and post it on the fridge, I follow it for a week then lose all motivation.”

“Even though it is liberating to find that I have more ‘me’ time in my day, I find that I lose myself and waste those precious minutes as I surf the web endlessly instead of doing important things that so desperately need to be tackled.”

“I’m retired and live alone (except for some cats). The biggest challenge has been the impact to my former routine: (in person) yoga Sunday morning, Tai Chi on Monday and then at least three visits a week to the gym.”

“The biggest challenge is balancing work and home life. I’m logging into my morning meeting at the last second. If I take a break to do a few chores or take a quick walk — next thing I know it’s been 20 minutes and I’m late for another meeting! Or I get so involved with work, I forget to do that one thing my husband has asked me to do, like put something in the oven. I struggle with finding the end of my work day — it’s very easy to just keep working into the evening.”

“Staying home by myself during the pandemic has been the most difficult for me. Time has lost meaning. The days run together. I can’t stay focused on my work. Instead, I spend too much time watching TV and raiding the pantry.”

Motivation has been difficult. Our brains want instant rewards. When virtually connected with others, we don’t get as much positive feedback.”

“I’ve worked from home for a long time and I’d gotten pretty good about not wasting time with a Twitter or news-reading break, but the pandemic has blown that to smithereens.”

“The most challenging thing about the pandemic is thinking about the future and being in my thoughts. Pondering what is next? Evaluating what is important in life, what is non-important? Thus, this challenging time has also been the most liberating time having the time to think about this when I wouldn’t have it there was no pandemic.”

Wasting Time? Or Slowing Down? Next Steps for ADHD Brains

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