By now it’s no secret that time management can be a significant challenge for people with ADHD, but understanding just why it eludes our brains is crucial to overcoming this obstacle. ADHD affects our perception of time, making it difficult to manage effectively. Our brains tend to be locked in the present, oblivious to the future. We often experience hyperfocus, where we become absorbed in a task and lose all sense of time. At the same time, we may struggle with time blindness, making it challenging to gauge how long tasks will take or plan for future deadlines. These time perception challenges contribute to poor time management skills and can leave us feeling overwhelmed and unproductive.
Effective time management involves placing greater importance on future goals rather than immediate desires or needs – meaning we have to get more comfortable with delayed gratification. It involves mapping out small daily or hourly steps that consistently guide us towards our desired destination. In today’s newsletter, we want to provide you with practical strategies to help you master time management and make the most of your days.
- Set clear boundaries: Communicate your need for uninterrupted focus time to those around you. Whether it's family members, roommates, or colleagues, let them know when you need to concentrate and request their cooperation in minimizing distractions during those periods. Setting boundaries and having open conversations about your ADHD challenges can help create a supportive environment.
- Eliminate potential distractions: The best way to reduce distractions is to avoid them altogether by establishing a distraction-free environment. Keeping your phone away during work hours and using web-blocking tools to eliminate online distractions are a couple of good ways to do this. Even having those potential distractions available to you can derail your focus and eat away at your valuable time. Trying to resist will only make it worse, so they really do need to be out-of-sight to be out-of-mind!
- Plug tasks into your schedule: Avoid letting tasks live rent-free on your to-do list forever by scheduling specific time slots for each task. This helps bring tasks to your immediate attention, ensuring they don't fall off your radar or get lost in the whirlwind of daily distractions. Use a tool such as a planner with daily time slots or a calendar app to assign blocks of time to tasks. I suggest to allow for more time than the task actually takes so you can have a little bit of flexibility when needed.
Remember you don’t have to be perfect at this, just by starting to implement some of these strategies, you'll gain more control over your time, enhance your productivity, and reduce the stress caused by time-related struggles. This is something that will take time to learn, but eventually you will start to see the benefits. The path to mastering time management starts with understanding the unique challenges ADHD brings to our perception of time and never really ends. It’s a practice we must continue each day, but the good news is the more we practice something, the better we get at it.