If you have ADHD, you sense time differently … and very likely, not too well. It’s in your brain wiring. You may find your pace is way too fast one day and inertia the next day. You may have already figured out that constantly using adrenalin and the rush of a deadline will wear you out physically and mentally. You may think 10 minutes have passed and it’s actually been … an hour or more. You lift your head to check the time and it’s 4:00 already; where did the time go, you ask yourself.
If you practice this one main approach I’ll outline below, you’ll get a better sense of time passing.
And importantly, this helps your your personal productivity in key ways:
- Getting started.
- Completing projects on time.
- Spending “enough” time on something, but not “too much,” because you got addicted to whatever you were working on, with the feeling of being inspired in the flow or zone.
- Keeping track of days. Losing track when you got pulled into something, or pulled away by too many people.
Sense Time Better with “Time Markers”
Time markers anchor you in time. They come in all forms: visual, auditory, a sense or instinct of your body and mind, or they can come from other people [or in my case, my dog. Seriously, and I’ve heard this from others. You can tell time by my dog, Malik. Meals and breaks are at roughly the same day each day, give or take about 10 minutes.]
You may not ever “feel” time passing, but you will get more practiced at this and it will work.
Here are some examples of time markers to experiment with.
- Wake time: Get up at the same time every day. This stabilizes [in your body and mind] a wakeup time, so you know where you’re starting for the day. It gives you a relative sense of where you are in the day as time passes.
- Work time: Start your work day at pretty much the same time every day, within a 15 minute window. Same reason as above. The more you change the basics, the harder it is to manage the day.
- Each morning, write out a post it note with your morning routine, those small steps. If you can sail smoothly through the wake/shower/quiet time, calm routines: you’re more likely to feel calm moving into the rest of your day.
- Work out of your home? Get dressed at [roughly] the same time every day. That’s a marker to say your day has officially begun. If you vary the time, but your mind thinks of “getting dressed” as the official start of your day, then you’ll be racing to catch up the rest of the day.
- Exercise, read, etc. in the morning: It doesn’t need to be the same activity each day. You’ll know you’ve focused on you first and your body will sense which part of the day it is.
Throughout your day, use routines to sense time and mark its passing
- Email: Read and respond 2-3 times daily. Those are time markers, when done consistently. The opposite is keeping email open all day, which gives you no time marker. Plus, it keeps you at a higher state of frazzle, reacting to others’ needs instead of working on at least some of your own priorities.
- Close out your day around the same time: Review today and your plan for tomorrow.
- School: If one or more of your kids get home from school or activities at roughly the same time; that’s a marker for you.
- Lunch: Eat it around the same time each day as a time marker. Especially important, as this means your day is half over.
- Breaks: Building in breaks during the day gives you a way to pause and reset your internal clock. Notice how you’re doing and where you’re at with your day’s plan.
- Dinner/relaxation routines: Start these around the same time, so your body starts to wind down for a good night’s, consistent sleep.
- Use sound: If you work out of a home office, grandfather clock chimes work well because you can hear them anywhere in the house. Use a phone timer. Apple/Samsung alarms work, but be stingy in how many you set or you’ll probably ignore them.
- Lots of clocks: Put clocks all over the place. It’s difficult not to notice the time passing. Cell phones don’t work because you have to take them out or turn them on. Some people put clocks in the bathroom because it helps them keep track of time as they move through their morning routine.
- Other people: You may have a certain time of day you tend to phone or email your spouse, or a time when he/she might email you (a “good morning” email from work at a regular time.) Time marker.
- Accountability partner: One of my colleagues mentioned that she speaks with her accountability partner every morning at a certain time to discuss goals.
Last, organizing your day
- Task breakdown: Look at 10-15 minute steps, parts of larger tasks you need to get done. Write the steps right into your ‘to do’ list/app. Smaller steps help you watch time more carefully so you’ll know time is ticking. And you’ll have a greater sense of accomplishment, too, with more to check off !
- Observe yourself: Use a task and a time log. It’s revealing to occasionally keep track of how long things take versus your estimates.
- Block your day: Organize your day so that – as one example – in the afternoons you take clients for organizing or coaching or whatever your business is. And in the morning, you work on running and managing your business (marketing, financial, business development). That gives you a midday time marker. Great if you are working at one company as well as building your own business.
- Print out a calendar with time slots and use it to organize and record your tasks. Again, it’s visible and encodes it all in your mind better than typing or seeing it on a device/pc. With this in front of you, you’ll readily see time passing during your days. But RIGHT in front of you; don’t cover it up or put it aside.
On your mark, get set, go !
Not quite sure how to apply this to your work or life? Happy to talk it through with you in an introductory call. Sue@CoachSueWest.com or 603.554.1948 office phone.