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ADHD Adults

Time Management.....

UGH, ok so I don’t know where to start….. I have no sense of time whatsoever. It doesn’t matter is I set my alarm earlier, I still end up hitting the snooze button and waking up late. Which in turn means I’m rushing to get my daughter and I out the house on time (we still end up moving slow as molasses and we leave about 30 minutes after we SHOULD leave). My daughter is 4 and I am a college student. Her preschool teacher gives me the evil eye everyday and I can do nothing but apologize. I end up creeping into class late and sometimes my professor makes a smart remark.

Ok enough about being late, I also cannot seem to organize my time even during the day. I’m taking 5 full semester classes and 1 half semester class. My load isn’t too big, but I literally find myself stumbling through the day lost and trying to catch up.

Anyone have any advice on how to wake in the morning, get out the house on time, and manage my time through the day so I can be more productive????


I snooze like it’s my job and about 70% of the time fall back asleep so hard that I sleep through the alarm.  I have lost jobs over this.  I wish I had something…..I like the feeling of going back to sleep SO MUCH!!  I’m right there with ya….6 classes!!! That’s ambitious! grin  I have a hard time with my 3 classes!  I hope you (and I) get some answers.

Posted by SuzieSubie on Jan 27, 2014 at 9:34pm

UGH, I can relate to this. I had to cut back on the number of courses I took when I was in college if I didn’t want to be overwhelmed and miserable. And I didn’t have a child, like you do. Children need a LOT of your time!!! Is there a way you could try taking, maybe, 4 classes at a time? I’d still be way far stretched, at that. I can see why you’re feeling lost—it takes extra time for us to get organized, and you don’t have any extra time right now.

Posted by pnwsuzie on Jan 27, 2014 at 9:34pm

Yes!! There are things you can do! Been there, done that!! First, realize that if you have ADHD, you can’t keep setting the same alarm with the same mindset everyday and expect to suddenly, one day, start getting up on time! Consider this… plan for this amazing, non-morning, ADHD person (that’s you) in the evening before you go to bed. Or, before that, actually, so you won’t be too tired to do it. My list:
1. Set three alarms (yes, three!) You should not be able to access these from your bed. And, one of them is in a different room, turned up very loudly, and plays a bright, happy song. (Mine is “I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW).
2. Set out your clothes for the day. Yours AND your child’s! (I also have a little girl)
3. In the bathroom, set out ALL items you’ll use the next morning, complete with toothpaste on the toothbrushes.
4. Pack bags, lunches, and everything you’ll need to leave with.

I keep this list in the living room by the front door on a chalkboard, with spaces to check off every night as they get done. When you see how smoothly your mornings will run, and that you’ll start being “on time”, you’ll understand why I do it. Make it a game with your daughter. She can be in charge of the “checking off”. And, it will also become a habit for her as well.

Good luck with whatever you try. smile


Posted by Grierwego on Jan 27, 2014 at 10:06pm

Time escaped me for years.  Getting where I needed to be, or getting things done on time was an elusive goal, or so I thought…

What kind of tools are you using to get things done?  Do you have a smartphone?  If so, then use it to set alarms for an adequate time before you have to be somewhere or have something done.

If you are not already doing so, write out a list of things that you must do and then schedule them into your day.  Again, set the alarms on your phone so that you are prompted to take care of those things.

Use a planner sheet to map out what your general routines are so that you know which things are there to be done and you don’t have to remember all of them.  Just set an alarm to go back and check your “plan”.

Get a “master” family calendar going and keep it where everyone in the family can access it.  I use the one from Flylady, which is big enough to hold all that needs to be on there for all of my family members.

If necessary, drop some of the activities that are just taking up your time.  You can add things back to your schedule after you have trained yourself to deal with a routine for your home and your work.

Keep a small notebook with you so that you can jot things down throughout your day.  In the evening, take out your notebook and enter items into the calendar or into your planner so that you have the in front of you when you are planning things.

I work with my planner and such at the end of the day when there are fewer interruptions.  If you have Outlook on your computer, it is a great tool for this purpose and you can print out your calendar and to do lists from it, too.

Yes, I use my smartphone to do a lot of this, but I also use the planner.  If my phone gets lost or gets broken, I still have what I need in the planner.

“I forgot” does not work in the adult world, so it is up to you to find tools or methods to help yourself.  Experiment with things to find the methods and routines that work best for you!

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Jan 27, 2014 at 11:09pm

You have received some good ideas here, but I’d like to add a couple things that have worked well for me, as a woman with ADD, as well as my clients.

First, it’s important that you accept that “Time Blindness” is part of your brain wiring, and let go of any blame, shame, or self-flagellation around your difficulty with time. I’m not talking about letting yourself off the hook—I’m talking about the kind of real acceptance that is necessary for many of us learn to rely on the kinds of tools that will help us!  If a client doesn’t accept their own manifestations of their ADD, they have a tendency to keep going back to thinking, “I should be able to do X.  Everybody else seems to be able to do X.  Therefore, I just need to try harder to do X.”  It’s like telling a person who is vision-impaired to look harder! 

It’s also important to understand that “Time Management” isn’t a single skill or even a single set of skills, but a complex set of skills and behaviors.  There are lots of different aspects of our lives, and different activities that come into play with how well we manage time.  How well we manage our calendars is one aspect; how well we manage our tasks and the things we need to do is another.  How long it takes to get things done, and How well we estimate and judge the passage of time come into play as well how much we can resist distraction and stay on task, and how well we organize information, and the “stuff” in our lives.  And all those aspects of our lives can be intertwined with how punctual we are for the things we do every day.

There is no single tip or trick to make us time management masters, but working on all of those areas will improve it overall. 

Some tools that might help with various aspects: keep analog clocks (with hands and numbers on the face) all over your home to improve your ability to judge the passage of time and keep you on-track; set your clocks for the ACTUAL time—you know when you set your own clocks ahead—you’re smarter than that!; keep timers all over your house to help you test how long tasks take and to keep you aware of deadlines; don’t be afraid to use multiple alarms and to switch up the sounds they make from time to time, or the order in which they go off (so they don’t become ignorable like the wallpaper on the wall); if mornings are a problem for you, always do what you can the night before so you are not fighting your morning brain fog; use simple checklists in the morning and the night before so that you aren’t relying on your wonky working memory (written lists in sheet protectors checked off with wipe-off marker are easy to use and re-use); and make sure you’re getting REGULAR AND SUFFICIENT SLEEP to make mornings easier on you.

One of the simplest things you can do to improve your ADHD symptoms is to make sure you’re getting regular & sufficient sleep (going to bed near the same time each night, and getting enough quality sleep).  But it’s one of the things that is often hardest for us!  (Simple does NOT mean easy!)  And with everything you have on your plate right now, I would wager a guess that you’re not.  Do what you can to take care yourself and your brain by getting enough sleep each night, and see a Dr. if you think there is more going on than a full plate and bad habits.  Sleep disorders are not uncommon among our ADHD tribe.

I got a bit carried away there, but I hope there’s something in there that can help!

Best of luck and let us know what you find that works for you.  You are DEFINITELY not alone in your struggles!

Lynne Edris, ACG
Life & ADD Coach

Posted by ADD_Coach_Lynne on Jan 27, 2014 at 11:45pm

Thank you everyone for the wonderful tips!!!

Posted by _ashlynnicole on Jan 28, 2014 at 5:15am

I once put a timer on my stereo with large loud speakers in my living room.  As soon as it fires up blasting the neighborhood at 6:00 AM, I had to jump out of bed and run into the other room to shut it off.  By this time I’m awake.  (and everyone else) But hey it worked.  I now have a regular alarm clock on my dresser 10 feet away from my bed.  The key is making me get out of bed to turn off the alarm.

Posted by spage_hasADD on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:33am

I have two recommendations.  I set the timer on our microwave to go off 5 minutes before my kids need to leave for the bus.  Setting it for the exact time stresses them out when they are not ready yet but 5 minutes gives them time to quickly wrap things up and get out.  Then I reset it for 5 before I need to leave. smile 

One idea I have seen for getting up when the alarm goes off is to drink a glass of water before you go to bed so that when the alarm goes off and you start waking up your body will wake you because you need to use the bathroom.  Good luck!

Posted by CaroleT on Jan 28, 2014 at 5:29pm

Hi ashleynnicole!

I just heard a great webinar on Time Blindness on You can listen to the archive here: It is chock full of tips.

Also, there are some specialized alarm clocks you can try. There’s a daylight simulator, clocky (actually runs away from you!), and an alarm that will shake your bed. I like the idea of the daylight simulator because it will wake you gradually and make it easier to get going.

I also agree with those above, if you can’t be responsible with your snooze, you need to put the alarm across the room so you have to get up. I set my alarm 30 minutes early to allow myself 3 snooze cycles—I know after 3 I have to get up.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jan 28, 2014 at 7:14pm

You have received a lot of good advice about managing tasks to the time alloted.  I have a suggestion for the slowness in waking, and moving like molasses.
Slow movement in my world also means slow thinking and no impetus to move.  Even if my mind is active enough to reflect on what I should be doing, I often cannot seem to get going.
A couple of years ago, I started leaving out preprepared coffee for myself the night before.  I don’t mind taking a few sips cold, especially because I know how much it helps.
I started setting an alarm 45 minutes to an hour before I needed to get up, and take a few sips of coffee (while still under the covers) before rolling over and going back to sleep. 
This actually helped me to have a waking up feeling when I needed it, and I am ready to move and get up when I am supposed to.
Not only that, but because I am already beginning to awaken before I need to start moving, my brain is actually thinking about what I am going to do for the day and immediately after I get up.  It practically feels like motivation!

Its a big change because itseems to be the internal brain wakefulness that drives the functional movement.  It helps me remember what I need to do and actually follow any lists, routines and organization that I’m supposed to be using.

I read on this site of a mom who helped her daughter who struggled with morning sluggishness, by having her take her morning adhd medication 45 minutes or so before she needed to get up.
This allowed her to have a natural wake up time with out stress, yelling or lots of alarms.
For years, I used the multi alarm approach, but this coffee or stimulant method actually helps me wake up naturally and with some enthusiasm for the day, It also helps me not be totally stupid if someone speaks to me early in the day.

Hope this helps!

Posted by hai on Jan 28, 2014 at 7:42pm

One thing you may try is to visualize something that motivates you to get up—for me visualizing taking a sip of a rich, tasty cup of coffee, and a few minutes alone to clear the fog usually works. You may enjoy having a few minutes to yourself before your daughter is awake—what will you do for 15 minutes without any demands on your attention? Make a picture of that to motivate you!
Avoid thinking of all the things you have to “do” once you’re up, that usually leads to going right back under the covers!  Once you’re up in time, you will have all that extra time to think about your day.  Of course, as others have mentioned, if you plan the basics the night before, your morning get-out-the-door routine will be much smoother smile


Posted by Rami on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:38pm

I have clocky!!! He is awesome - and actually frustrating at times.  In addition to running around all over the floor, it also flashes every other second and when it is dark it will flash and i will go to pick it up and when it flashes again it is 2 ft. in the other direction!!! kind of hilarious actually but in that moment a little frustrating - kind of the point…..

also, recently started using google calendar as my primary calendar…i can click an appointment time in my gmail and it will automatically add it to my calendar

Posted by SuzieSubie on Jan 29, 2014 at 7:00pm

What a GREAT & helpful thread! We are an awesome support group wink. Thanks for bringing up such a near-to-our-hearts topic, ashleynicole.

Posted by pnwsuzie on Jan 29, 2014 at 10:19pm

I’ve set myself an alarm for ten minutes and five minutes before I need to walk out the door (the ten-minute alarm also flashes on my phone with a reminder to take my pills). I also check the weather report, pick out my clothes, put my dress shoes in my bag (so I can wear sneakers on the way in), and decide what to eat for breakfast before I go to bed. I bring a week’s worth of lunches to work at once so I don’t have to remember one every morning.

As for managing time during the day, I make sure to use the first 15-30 minutes at work to make a plan. I use a paper planner for this, since my Google calendar is full of way too much stuff and ends up being distracting. If any of my tasks are complex, I use a sticky note with lines to break out the sub-tasks I will need to do—that way I can look at just the sticky instead of my whole planner when I’m working on that task. I throw it away and check the main task off when I’m done. I check in with my plan and make necessary revisions when I come back from lunch and before I leave for the evening.

Posted by MrsPerky on Feb 10, 2014 at 9:43am

In our office we use the cloud based time tracking software from Replicon. The hassle free experience and management some what is pretty impressive in managing the things to go in a better and fashionable manner. Check out the link here -

Posted by rmacklyn on Feb 12, 2014 at 8:51pm

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