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ADHD Adults

Sense of time

Do any of you have a problem with sense of time?  For example, I can’t tell if something happened 3 days ago or 3 weeks ago.  5 minutes can feel like 5 hours and 5 hours can feel like 5 minutes.  I’ve tried timers, I’ve worn watches, I’ve set alarms, but nothing works.  A psychiatric nurse once told me “A sense of time is like a sixth sense,” and it’s apparently one I DON’T have.  It’s really frustrating at times, especially with relationships with friends and family because I won’t remember certain things or get confused about when things happened.  I’ve read about time management, but nothing has seemed to click with me.

Has anyone dealt with this?  Any suggestions?  Help please!!


Absolutely. Time-blindness, or temporal myopia, as I understand it, is practically diagnostic for ADHD.

Success with alarms and timers, and other such tools, depends on what you set them for. Sometimes I set times for not just an event, but the time to leave the house for the event, the time to get ready to leave the house for the event, plus a reminder the night before about preparing for the event.

I have timers for my meds, plus, a timer for an hour later, asking me if I took my meds.

Since I’ve been known to fix a cup of tea or coffee, then walk off and leave it untouched, I occasionally set a timer for 10 minutes, so I can still drink it hot.

If you have an activity (web surfing?) that eats up your time, AND your awareness of it, set a timer for how long you can allow yourself to surf. There’s an app for that—probably lots of them.

How is time blindness connected to ADHD? Basically, it’s our inability to notice it, the way we miss other elements in the environment. There is a good ADDitude webinar with Ari Tuckmann on this topic.

Posted by ADD me on Jan 12, 2014 at 4:46pm

I have been listening to a podcast called ADHD Weekly put out by Jay Carter (highly recommend it…I have listened to over 15 episodes in a matter of days whenever in my car) and something he says all the time is that as ADHDers we have 2 times - now and not now.  I can relate!!

Posted by SuzieSubie on Jan 12, 2014 at 10:45pm

I hear you. The same happens to me. I can show up,to an appointment one week early or two months late. I have gone to work on the wrong day of the week, at the wrong appointment, etc. When I make such kind of mistake, I feel really bad, but I do my best to forgive myself and keep going. This, nonetheless, has costed me jobs. Now I am working with a boss who gives more importance to honesty, diligence, manual dexterity, creativity, and loyalty, which are qualities that compensate my lack of sense if time. However, some times I feel really bad because I have caused him to lose business or be fined a couple times.

I have tried reminders, and many times they work. The one thing is not to overdo it. I have let my ADD guide my reminder set up, and I had so many reminders that I stopped caring.

Also, after a while, some reminders or alarms don’t work anymore. For example, I have stopped hearing my iPad morning alarm. I now am using a call to my cell from the clock channel,of IFTTT.

All I can say, keep on trying. Start with one little thing that you don’t mind if you fail. Keep building from there. If you fail, just keep going.

Posted by najn on Jan 13, 2014 at 7:41am

Yes, I experience much of the same thing. 5 minutes can be like 5 hours. 1 year may as well have been a month and vice versa. I tell people, please don’t ask me what year or on what day that was because it probably wasn’t.

What’s funny/ironic is that I also have difficulty telling time on a clock with hands and I have a learning disability with numbers(though it’s not as bad as it used to be for some reason)

I use alarms and pop up reminders on my cell phone.

I use sticky notes on my actual desk…putting them on my computer desktop doesn’t work as well because I close them…which sort of defeats the purpose I know…

when writing reminders I am specific to a tee…I don’t just write the date and time I put names and addresses…

I find that sometimes saying what I’m trying to remember out loud 6 times+ or more helps,

Perhaps playing off of your learning style may help?
It helps to educate yourself and experiment with ways to alter your awareness.

I am out of suggestions at the moment…but I hope that I helped.

Best Wishes

Posted by RjoyD on Jan 13, 2014 at 8:30am

The expert webinar with Ari Tuckman mentioned above is called, “Time-Blindness and ADHD: Become More Aware of Time and Learn to Manage It,” and you can listen to it or read the transcript here: I read the transcript and it is packed with valuable tips and insight.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jan 13, 2014 at 8:50pm

Thanks, Penny. I will check the webinar. I lam also specific with my reminders. Most importantly, what is the action I need to take. For example, if the reminder is, “Get X paperwork done,” I write, “Obtain blank form for X.” When that is done, I modify it to, “Complete X form.” In a way, knowing that I am progressing keeps me motivated instead of thinking just in general that I am not done,

Posted by najn on Jan 14, 2014 at 8:43pm

Wow!  Thanks for all the replies and suggestions!  I actually was going through my email and got my usual ADDitude Adult ADHD email and under the “Join the conversation” section, I saw the first question, and I was like, “OMG, is that my post!?!?!”  LOL!!  And it was; maybe that’s how I got so many responses? 

At any rate, I actually DO have the Time Blindness and ADHD podcast somewhere on my computer, but I think I have Auditory Processing Disorder because I can’t make sense of spoken lectures such as that.  But thank you, Penny, for mentioning that there is also a transcript.  I will definitely check it out!

Several years ago, I bought the most expensive PDA on the market, a Palm TX, for $300.  Last time I checked, about 2 years ago (but don’t take my word on that…LOL!), it was still the same price which surprised me because smartphones have surpassed the technology of that PDA.  Well, at least in some ways.  But I didn’t use it for the first 2-3 years I had it, then when I started using it, I didn’t know how I ever went without it!  For example, (I take public transportation), I have a doctor’s appointment, I will set a time, with an alarm, to wake up, then I will set an alarm that goes off 2 minutes before I should leave to go to the bus station.  Then, I also put in which buses I’m taking, including routes, times, and direction, but don’t have alarms for them, as it’s not needed.  And, finally, I have my appointment on there.  That helps tremendously to make it there on time and on the right day,etc.!  I’ve used it to set alarms for other things, like medications.  I wear a pain patch that stays on (sometimes!) for 72 hours, but I’ll forget when I last changed it, so I set an alarm to go off every 3 days to remind me to change it.  But that’s the extent to my use of reminders and alarms.

What I have trouble with is remembering when events happened that can be very important.  For example, I know this is TMI, but bear with me, I was having constipation and I had no clue how long it had been since I last went and of course my doctor wanted to know because it was so severe that when I finally started going I lost 15 pounds in less than 24 hours!!  Yeah, so stuff like that is important.  Maybe I can start using my PDA to record when events like that happen.  And then the typical chores around the house.  I’ll think sweeping the house will take 10-15 minutes.  2 hours later, I’m still sweeping.  But that’s because I’m like most ADHDers, and I get distracted by something else that needs to be done, ad nausuem, until I finally finish sweeping.  At least I do finish, though!  I tend to underestimate and not overestimate.  In my head, though, I think, “OMG, those dishes are going to take me 6 hours to do!” But realistically, I can say “It might take me 30 minutes to do those dishes.”  But once I do them, they actually take about 75 minutes (I let them pile up and have no dishwasher…).

It doesn’t really matter how long it takes me to do something as I’m on disability so I have as much time to do stuff as I need, most of the time anyways.  But for the real world, not just my home world, I need to get a better grasp on “feeling” time.  I’ve downloaded a timer for my desktop that’s really simple, and I need to start using it.  I’ve only used it to count down, like I set it for 15 minutes so I could work on a task for 15 minutes and then stop, etc.  I should use it in the opposite direction to find out how long it actually takes to do the stuff I do around the house.  And I need to discipline myself to stick to the ONE task I’m doing, and not get pulled off into crazy directions.

I’m going to go get that transcript for the Time Blindness webinar right now.

Thanks for all the suggestions…keep ‘em coming…I need all the help I can get!  LOL

Posted by LittleD1981 on Jan 15, 2014 at 1:49am

I’ve seen a few posts on this subject, but none that really hit home like this one.  This issue alone has threatened to ruin my relationship (a good one) for awhile.  I go for an hour walk and come home 4 hours later.  We live in a town where we know a lot of people so I run into this person or that person and talk for what seems to be a few minutes but lo and behold is really an hour.  I get home and my partner just doesn’t understand!

Posted by Turbo5150 on Jan 16, 2014 at 2:13pm

Thanks this was good reading for me and I’m little by little setting more reminders and alarms.

Posted by msnuggie on Jan 19, 2014 at 6:02pm

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