ADHD and managing your time

The whacky ADHD tendency towards time distortion was recently explained to me. In an ADDitude article, William Dodson claims, “The ADHD world is curvilinear. Past, present, and future are never separate and distinct. Everything is now.”

Maybe you can relate. Have you ever gone into a store looking for a few things, only to leave two hours later wondering where the time went?

My first Whole Food experience was like that. I spent two hours wandering, looking for a snack and a drink. During those two hours, I packed my cart with ‘necessary’ items.  Ultimately, I put them back, grabbed what I came for, and fled the store. For years I wouldn’t allow myself back into a Whole Foods for fear of its shiny new things that create a rabbit hole time distortion for me.

I certainly feel I am in the now when working on things I love doing, like my art. During those moments, I can hyper-focus for hours, forgetting all else.

Maybe this is why the linear concept of time, and what is next on a schedule are not a natural fit for everyone. Personally, I have difficulty moving onto my next task unless I use an alarm to remind me to stop what I’m doing and transition to the next thing.

For instance, I have learned to put Leave, highlighted in yellow in my calendar an hour prior to an appointment, so that I remember I have to stop what I’m doing, and also so that I don’t plan something else during the time when I should be traveling to my next gig.

Many of us with ADD/ADHD have been told our tardiness and sense of time are not “normal.” We are often told we must assimilate (and that resistance is futile). Not only is that boring, but ‘time’ and the calendar, are artificial linear constructs.

Personally, I ask not why I cannot adjust, but rather, why can some people’s brains assimilate to an artificial timeline? What have they lost?

Perhaps some of us live within different concepts of a day. So, within the five day a week work world, we survive managing time by understanding how it affects us so we can learn tricks to help.

For instance, many artists make their living working four days a week in “normal” jobs. There, we can make a living (thus satisfying the human need for “purpose,”) get out of the house, and also out of our own heads. We then have three days off in a row for the brain to have down time, making space for creativity. Ultimately, my ADD brain has always felt most happy and productive when I can live both in and outside of the constructs of time. It is a balancing act, but it can be ultimately achieved.

How do you manage time?


Read the article that inspired this post:

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