Why Is It Time Management Hard with ADHD?

People with ADHD tend to think about time differently from neurotypical folks. They usually focus on the present, which makes it hard to plan ahead. While they might excel at a small task that needs to be done right now, they often struggle to complete a larger project with a deadline that’s days or weeks away.

If you have ADHD, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced this kind of situation. You know that you’ll need to get started on a project at some point, but it doesn’t feel urgent. The future consequences of not making progress on the project don’t seem to cause any motivation to get started, so you end up procrastinating until the last minute when the pressure of a looming deadline finally kicks in.

Poor time management can affect a number of different aspects in your life. Here are just a few examples:

  • You’re frequently running late for work because you underestimate how much time you need to get ready.
  • Your schedule is overbooked because you don’t have a realistic idea of the amount of time each task or activity will require.
  • You hyperfocus on an activity you’re enjoying and lose track of time for hours.

It’s easy to see how these time management mistakes can have ripple effects into your relationships, your career, and your own happiness. That’s why getting a better grasp on managing your time is a great way to start 2024 on the right foot.

Top Tips for Time Management

Ready to make the best of the time at your disposal? This is a great opportunity to revamp some of the ways you organize, plan, and schedule things and discover new strategies for keeping tabs on time. As you look ahead to the new year, think about how you can incorporate some of the following tips into your life to improve your time management abilities.

Use timers and reminders

Time blindness is an issue for many people with ADHD. They don’t have as keen a sense of how much time has passed, and they struggle to estimate how long they’ll need to complete a task. Timers and reminders are two simple yet effective tools for overcoming time blindness with ADHD.

For example, you could set a reminder for 30 minutes when washing clothes so you don’t forget to move them to the dryer when the cycle is done. You can use a timer when getting ready for work in the morning so you can see how much time you have left and make sure you leave on time.

Build in extra time

Does it feel like you’re always rushing to get somewhere on time? Allow for extra time with any task, event, or activity to give yourself a cushion. Even though it only takes 15 minutes to drive to a restaurant where you have a reservation, you can also add 5 to 10 minutes of buffer time for possible traffic issues, finding parking, and other issues that might pop up along the way.

Check things off your list

If you notice that you tend to put off doing things until the last minute, try to restructure a big task into smaller actions. Let’s say you have guests coming on Saturday. On Monday, you remember that you want to clean the house before they arrive. But a big task like “clean the house” sounds overwhelming, so you might end up putting it off. Odds are, you won’t be able to get everything done on time and you’ll feel frantic in the hours before your guests arrive.

To solve this problem, list out the individual tasks you need to do: clean the bathroom, vacuum, mop, etc. Then, start by checking just one thing off your to-do list. Take a break, then tackle another one. You’ll make progress over time rather than trying to cram it all in at the last minute.

Learn to say “no”

This year, work on your ability to turn down invitations and activities when you need to. It’s hard to say “no” to some things, but part of time management is learning what your limits are. If you always feel overscheduled and can’t seem to keep up with everything on your calendar, try scaling back a bit. It’s easier to manage your time when you aren’t constantly feeling like you don’t have enough of it.

During the busy post-holiday period, these time management tips can help you get a strong start to the year. As you make plans for 2024, keep these strategies in mind to minimize stress in the coming months.