Time can be elusive for many with ADHD. So, it is no wonder that running late is a common problem. I bet you have had times when you felt like the man in the picture above. Maybe more often than you would like.
Yet, I know you want to get to places on time because you want to be responsible and honor your commitments.
It would also be nice to be grounded and present once you arrive at your destination, right? Just think of those times when you arrived someplace feeling like you had just slid into home base. How ready were you to engage in the task before you?
Even if getting to places on time has felt like a fire drill up until now, you can change this.
Use the suggestions below to the degree that you need. Of course, if you are going to a job interview, you will want to do a lot of preparation. But, if you are meeting a friend for coffee, you may not want to put in as much effort.
The first step is to visualize and write down everything you need to do to get ready for your appointment.
For example, if you are going to a meeting, the following are examples of what you may need to have ready:
- clean clothes, stockings, etc.
- purse/wallet with keys and phone
- business cards
- documents for the meeting
- phone number (you never know when an unforeseen incident may delay you)
- money for the meter
- time you need to leave
The second step is to check and make sure you have what you need. Do this a few days in advance, so you have time to get what you don’t already have at hand.
The third step is to schedule when you intend to accomplish what you need to do to get ready. When are you going to get ink for the printer, iron your shirt, get quarters for the meter, etc.?
Yes, I know it may seem like a lot of effort. But I think you will enjoy the peace of mind that will come with preparing.
Estimate Time Needed
As estimating time is a challenge for many with ADHD, determining when to leave for an appointment can be a bit tricky.
A helpful strategy is to think about how long it could take for each step along the way, such as:
- programing your GPS
- driving in traffic for that time of day
- finding a parking spot for that time of day
- walking from your car to your appointment
- going to the washroom, if you are going to an interview.
In Boston, where I live, traffic is more of a factor than the distance. And there is almost always traffic. According to my GPS, it “should” take about 20 minutes to drive Downtown. But I will add as much as a 1/2 hour to my travel time to make sure I can get to meetings on time.
If it is critical that you get to the appointment on time, try overestimating the time needed. I heard your gasps of surprise at this suggestion! And I know you may get bored easily. So, bring a book or some other work to keep yourself occupied in case you arrive early.
It is true. Preparation and intention may not be enough to get to your destination on time.
You still need to stop what you are doing and get ready to leave. Not always an easy feat! If transitioning between tasks is a challenge for you, as is true for many with ADHD, not giving yourself enough time to transition may still torpedo your plans.
Stop what you are doing at least 15 minutes early so you can give yourself time to clear your head and get ready to leave. Use a timer to cue you, if you need a reminder.
Actually Getting out the Door
One last hurdle is actually getting out the door on time.
You may however suffer from the common affliction of “one more thingitis.” Those who suffer from this ailment often suddenly remember things they “have to do” at the most inconvenient times, like when they are leaving to go to an important meeting.
Does the scenario below sound familiar?
As you are walking out the door, you decide you really need to take out the recycling. Then you drop it. As you drop the recycling, a glass falls. You need to clean it up so the kids do not cut themselves. Ten minutes later, you are still not out the door.
It is a slippery slope, to be sure.
The antidote is to resist the urge by using some type of self talk, like, “If I don’t go now, I’ll be late and that will not look good. The recycling can wait. It would not be the worst thing if it went out next week.”
ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line
If you want to get to places on time, you can optimize your chances by adopting some or all of the steps above:
- Prepare in advance
- Estimate the time needed to get to your destination. Better yet try over estimating!
- Have a plan to transition from your previous activity.
- And resist the urge to do just one more thing.
Need other ideas? Join me and other adults with ADHD.