Why are ADHDers late, pt. 1: We suck at time.

In my experience there are a few reasons that ADHDers are chronically late. The most  fundamental issue is our lack of time sensitivity. In my opinion, this stems from our basic neurochemical wiring. We don’t experience time as a constant. Whoever said that time flies when you’re having fun was most likely and ADHDer. When you are not aware of the time, it’s really easy to be late.

Our tendency towards hyperfocus is also a contributing factor. When we do effectively attend, it is often in this hyperfocus way, which blocks out the rest of the world. Whether we are doing something fun or have finally found “the zone” for something tough, we can get totally lost in that thing. There are no clocks in “the zone.”

There are also some ADHD folks who are so not present in the moment that it doesn’t even occur to them to interact with time. I always ask a clients who tell me that they are chronically late to work, “What time do you need to leave for work?” I am, (more often than you might think,) met with a very long pause and the answer, “I don’t know.”  My follow up question is usually, “How long does it take you to get to work?” There usually isn’t a great answer to that question either. Obviously, if we don’t know how long it takes to get to work, we can’t figure out what time to leave.

There is a basic skill set lacking here in terms of planning before doing. For example, if I were going to start a new job tomorrow, I would Google Map my route considering what time I would need to be there, figure out the parking situation and add in time for that, and probably add a buffer of 10 minutes. Of course, that takes attention, executive function, mindfulness, and a belief that taking these steps will actually work. But, if you avoid planning because it challenges your attention and executive function, you may be late on day one and never really know what time it is other than being “behind schedule.”

Part 2 coming soon!

Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.

Leave a Reply