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Building Time Awareness

Many ADHD adults grapple with time agnosia, or time blindness, making it challenging to accurately perceive and estimate the passage of time. In a world that revolves around time-specific appointments and deadlines, incorporating accommodations and supports becomes crucial. Here are some strategies my clients and I have found helpful in increasing awareness of time throughout our days.

  1. Double Alarm: Set two alarms for important transitions. The first serves as a heads-up, allowing your brain to process the upcoming change. The second is your cue to take action, minimizing the risk of getting absorbed back into the current task. Limit the time between the two alarms to around 5 minutes so you don’t get sucked back into the task.

2. Time Timer:  Digital clocks may not work for everyone; the Time Timer, a visual timer, has proven essential for me. Its visual representation of time passing provides a tangible way to grasp time. Purchase one here. 

3. Google Maps: Enhance travel time accuracy by using Google Maps. Add details to estimate when to leave, factoring in extra time for the three times we have to go back inside to get things we forgot.

4. Chime App: Utilize Chime apps with interval notifications. Set hourly and 15-minute reminders to prompt self-checks to determine if we are doing what we intended and maintain focus.

5. Anchor Points: Identify recurring events as anchor points in your day, such as dropping kids off at school, feeding pets, or your partner or roommate leaving for work. These non-negotiable events help you track the passage of time and can help us kickstart momentum. We can also stack tasks or habits to these anchor points.

6. Vertical Time Slots: Incorporate vertical time slots in your planning, visualizing your day in 15-30 minute intervals. Whether through Google Calendar, a printable planning page, or a paper planner such as the Passion Planner, this approach aids in understanding how much of the day is taken up by appointments, work, or school and how much of our day is left for other things.

Gaining new strategies is a crucial component to learning how to manage time effectively as an ADHD adult, but its only half of the solution. The other half involves persistent implementation, practice, and ongoing self-awareness. Combining strategies with a supportive environment and possibly seeking professional guidance can enhance the likelihood of sustained improvement in managing time and daily responsibilities.

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