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time-awarenessGetting a handle on time awareness can be a tough challenge for someone with ADHD or other isms.

Even with medication, children and adults with ADHD have a difficulty sensing time in the standard way.  This is part of our executive function portion of the brain that also regulates how we process incoming information and helps us prioritize what information to respond to in what order.

Linear and Non-Linear Thinkers

Individuals with ADHD tend to be non-linear thinkers.  It is often seen and described as being able to see information in multiple perspectives at once.

One of the reasons some ADHDrs have such a hard time beginning some tasks, is that they are unable to break their ideas down into a linear task line.  Although their executive functioning processing allows for a lot of information to be introduced into awareness at the same time, this makes it difficult to prioritize and narrow down that information into tasks.

As adults, many ADHDrs are seen as the “idea person” and are most successful when they can delegate the actual task to someone who is a more linear thinker.

Perception of Time

This difference of how ADHDrs think, also creates a difference in how they perceive time.  Time becomes an abstract idea that the brain fails to prioritize. This becomes challenging living in a world where time is a very relative factor.  People will judge others’ performance and character based on their ability to manage time.

Time Management & Awareness

Building executive functioning and awareness skills can be incredibly helpful in limiting a person’s sense of overwhelm, while increasing their feelings of acceptance and success.  Finding what works for you or your child and creating a habit that can be continued in multiple settings is very important.

Ideas for Developing Time Awareness

Here are some ideas for creating time awareness:

Set Reminders 

Setting reminders can be helpful for appointments, events or daily chores.  Consider using electronic task lists, Google calendar, or other apps.  Check out these two >

Alarmed – Reminders + Timers

Bug Me Stickies

Visual Cues

The use of a [easyazon-link asin=”B000J5OFW0″ locale=”us”]visual timer[/easyazon-link] can be helpful for limiting time on a task or for committing to a minimum time.   Visual timers allow you to see how much time is left at a glance.  Check out the Fun Timer app by Special-Ism writer and Speech – Language Pathologist, Karen Head.

Audible Cues

Having reminders, timers, or schedulers provide a simple noise can be helpful.  Besides just letting you know that time is up, the audible cue also help build a habit of simply bringing awareness to time.

Body Double 

The body double is helpful for some specific tasks, when an individual may be helped by having someone who offers some type of check-in or cue to help keep them on task.

Single Task

Often we are trying to multi-task and the constant shifting of focus leaves us unproductive.

Set up to do just one task at a time.

Set a timer for the amount of time you want to spend for that task.

When the timer is up, you can choose if you need more time, you’re done, or to come back to it later, but it has at least brought time back into your awareness.

Final Tips

Limiting distractions and being mindful of passing time will create a more productive environment whether it is work, school, or house work.

Create cues to bring attention to time and you will create a better habit of awareness.

Find a cue that is easy to set and use and that children can set for themselves.  Teaching children how to maintain structure for time awareness themselves, will benefit them as they get older and have to become more independent.

In Summary

The easier a system is to use, the more likely it will be used and repeated into a habit.  By building a stronger awareness of time, it becomes easier to prioritize and decreases a person from feeling like they are always short on time or late.

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Dan Perdue is a Personal Coach specializing in ADHD. Dan coaches adults, children, couples, and families trying to manage ADHD by partnering with them to discover their strengths and support them in changes and goals. Learn more about ADHD Coaching and how to receive a free coaching consultation at Focused Solution Coaching.