Yes, everyone has challenges at work.
But, as an Adult with ADHD, some of your challenges are more acute because of your ADHD. You knew that…
This series of articles will help you be more aware of those challenges, as well as the workarounds.
Read on to continue this exploration in the article below, the last in the series.
Working With Time – Time Sense
When dealing with time the question is, “When am I going to do….?”
And, because time is often an elusive concept for adults with ADHD, this may be a hard question for you to answer.
Instead you find yourself saying,
- “I forgot to put ‘this’ on my calendar.”
- “It is already ______ (fill in the time)!”
- “I’m going to be late, again!”
- “I have no idea how long this is going to take.”
- “I’m sorry…”
Like many adults with ADHD you’re orientation is often in the here and now. That is, your tendency may be to think of time as “now” and “not now.”
While this may be true for you at the moment, you can change this habit by practicing new skills and adopting the right tools in order to strengthen your sense of time.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
- Check out tips to practice looking ahead so you are on time and ready for your appointments in ADHD and Time: 4 Steps to Getting Places on Time.
- Time and record how long it takes you to do tasks in order to get better at estimating time.
- Overestimate how much time you need for tasks to account for the unexpected, like traffic, long lines, etc.
- Rather than scheduling tasks back to back, include transition time (white space).
- Use alarms to remind yourself when it is time to transition or as a cue to reflect on whether you are doing what you intended. For purposes of the later set the alarm for regular intervals, like an hour apart.
- Only put fixed appointments in your calendar so you can see where you must be at any given time.
While you can improve your sense of time and use tools to be more aware of time, you can’t control it. That is, we all have the same 24 hours.
But, though it may not feel like it sometimes, you do have more control over your tasks and can actively manage them by answering the questions:
- What do I have to do now?
- What can I do now?
A challenge, to be sure, for adults with ADHD. As it may often feel like the tasks are just swimming madly about in your head.
The first step is to choose a container for all of your tasks so you can get it out of your head and make decisions. Here are a few options you can choose from depending on your style and preference.
- a paper based planner, like PowerPlanner or Planner Pad
- a simple application, like Workflowy
- a more complex application, like Omnifocus, Nozbe or Toodledo. Here is a an overview of how to use these.
- a mind map, like Xmind. Here is one way to use a mindmap to manage your tasks.
I hope you give yourself a break, though, and remember task management is not about trying to see how many tasks you can check off each day!
Then the third step is figuring out when to do the tasks.
- For long term projects, it is only necessary to plan in as much detail as necessary to keep the project out of your head in order to determine the next action step.
- On a day to day level using David Allen’s Four Criteria Model will help you become more flexible and agile in figuring out which tasks to do within the constraints you have.
This all takes practice, as well as support. So, seek out help as you need it.
All of the above sounds great, right?
But, if impulsiveness is one of your challenges, the best of plans can easily go awry when you find yourself saying
- “Sure I can do that” before looking at everything on your plate.
- “I’ll be at the meeting” before looking at your calendar.
- “No problem, I can help you with that” before thinking about whether you really want to help.
- “I’ll just start wherever” before taking time to create a plan.
You get it.
The key is to give yourself permission to slow down and be intentional. I know. This may be especially hard when you are feeling overwhelmed already.
To curb your impulsivity, get in the habit of replacing some of the above with:
- “I may be able to do that. Let me just make sure. Is it ok if I let you know by tomorrow?”
- “I just need to check my calendar and I’ll get back to you this afternoon about setting up the meeting.”
- “I’m swamped right now. I don’t thing I can help you. Can I check in with you when my time frees up? Sorry.”
- “Bob, can you help me brainstorm a bit? I’m not really sure how to sequence this project.”
I bet you will be surprised at how this will help to minimize your overwhelm.
Like all recommendations, some may apply to you and some may not.
My intent in this series is to highlight the various aspects of your workplace that may be a challenge for you because of your ADHD and to offer you an introductory overview of how you may address these challenges.
I hope that you will take a “deeper dive” in looking at your particular workplace challenges and how you can address them to make you work life easier.