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How Do I Learn to Be on Time?

Updated: Oct 17




Being on time can be a problem for those of us with ADHD.


First, it can be stressful and the consequences of being late can be very serious. This could affect your personal life, annoying or losing friends and relationships. Lateness could have consequences in your work life as well. It can be difficult to keep jobs, keep accounts or clients and your productivity can suffer.


What can be done?


There are things you can do to learn to be on time all the time. The symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder result from weak executive function skills. What are the ones involved in being on time?


  • Time Management

  • Time Awareness

  • Task Initiation

  • Organization

  • Planning

  • Prioritization

  • Impulse Control

  • Working Memory


The great news is these skills can be strengthened!


There are many ways to strengthen these skills, and they can be individual. Here, we will discuss what works best for most of my ADHD Coaching Clients.


Time Management & Time Awareness -


Often times the problem is there is no routine. A simple routine is a great way to start time management the easy way. It starts at night. An evening routine that has you prepared for the following day and gets you in bed on time, so you can get up on time is the way to go.


Timing how long things take improves your time awareness. How long does it actually take to take a shower or get ready? Write it down or keep a note in your phone. Timing your daily tasks strengthens your Time Awareness and helps you to better manage your time.


Task Initiation -


Is getting started. What that can look like for those of us with ADHD is struggling to start the process of going to bed, getting out of bed, getting in the shower, brushing your teeth, getting ready, and much more. To the outside world, this can seem silly, but it is a very real problem.


I’ve worked with clients on this and found many reasons they struggle with getting started on a task. It can feel overwhelming to start their day. Draining thoughts and feelings may keep them in bed to try to sleep or scroll them away. Sometimes it's sensory issues causing the dread of dealing with the toothbrush, for example. This can be unique to the individual, but very real. Just know you are not alone, and it can be worked through.


Planning & Organization -


I’m putting these two together for a reason. A problem that arises is not knowing ahead of time what you need to take with you, and then not knowing where those things are. Make a list. What will you need? Are there any special circumstances where you might need to take something with you that you usually don’t.


Now organization, where do these items live? Where is their home in your home. For example, my keys get hung up by the door. If I forget, they will be in one of the two bags I use. Those two bags are a purse (I only have one) and it is returned to the top of my closet always. Or my laptop bag, which is put in the bottom of my closet always.


Ask yourself what you are always losing and where its new home could be. It takes practice putting things where they go, and you will forget. Try not to get frustrated with yourself and give up because once you make this a habit it makes your life so much easier.


Prioritization & Impulse Control -


I’m putting these together in this context because we need to prioritize our routine and control our impulse to do other things. You do not have time for one more thing. Now that you have worked on your Time Awareness, you might know this, but oftentimes people with ADHD are late because they tried to squeeze in that last thing and underestimated how long it would take exactly. Make your simple plan the priority and stay focused. Other things can wait.


Working Memory -


Do not depend on the white board in your brain. When new information comes in, old information is erased. You might have needed that. Post its, alarms with names, notes to yourself are all helpful aids. Something that has worked well for my family for many years is a family calendar on our phones. Appointments go directly in it, and we can all see it.


Now that we know what the problem is, what do we do about it?


Tips for being on time when living with ADHD


  1. Adjust your sleep. Get to sleep earlier & get up earlier.

  2. Create a simple plan that gets you out the door on time.

  3. Find out how long things take. Set a timer or use the stopwatch feature on your phone.

  4. Know what needs to go with you and where it lives, including what you will wear.

  5. Know how long it takes to get there. Map it out and add some time in case something goes wrong.

  6. Set a timer, warning you it’s time to go with a name. Time for Work 10 minutes before and perhaps another 5 minutes before. You know yourself best.



Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and changing your habits won’t happen overnight. But with patience, practice, and perseverance, you can overcome any obstacle and start getting to places on time, every time. It is something you have to practice, and you won’t always do it perfectly. That’s okay. What went wrong, what went right, what changes need to be made?


Here is a great time to talk about the value of an ADHD Coach.


Working with a coach, they can help you develop a plan based on your unique circumstances, give you some healthy accountability, help you see things you perhaps are not seeing for yourself that could help you, and much more.


Want more on thing subject?


In the video, I break down the 6 Steps giving some examples of what has worked for my clients and in the description, you will find this week’s download. A checklist to help you not just learn these concepts, but apply them to your life.



Free Checklist:



What strategies do you use to make sure you arrive on time? Let's discuss! You can book a Consultation Call using the button below.









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