Admittedly, I’m late. Again. Instead of making an excuse, let’s just say that at 40, I’m more aware of my inability to accurately gauge time. It is a symptom of my ADHD, but it is not an excuse. As a kid, I didn’t know that I had ADHD, but now that I am aware, a number of events from childhood forward make a lot of sense. I’ll share an example and what I have learned as well as how I continue to struggle with timeliness.
ADHD’s Inability to Gauge Time Presented Early
One of the neighborhood jokes when I was growing up was for kids to imitate my father’s booming voice calling out my full name, “Annnndrewwww Willllllliammmmmmm Foell, it’s time to eeeeeeeeeat!” I had been told I could play for half an hour or so until it was time for supper.
In my experience working with young students, I’ve learned that most kids aren’t great judges of time. I was even worse, and it really didn’t matter how loudly my dad shouted my name when I was a quarter of a mile away from home. I couldn’t hear him, but the neighborhood kids could and invariably one of them would find me and let me know that I should probably get going home. I dreaded arriving because I knew that I was going to receive another lecture about being on time for supper. On the worst occasions, I had completely missed the meal.
Do Watches Help to People with ADHD to Gauge Time?
Anyone who struggles with the ability to adequately gauge time knows the answer to the above question. It is yes, and it is also no. A watch has no magical powers that suddenly enable a person who struggles with timeliness to become more timely. If I am not looking at the clock or at the watch, I still have no idea regarding the amount of time that has passed. It’s that simple.
If I am lost in a hyperfocused daze, I will be just as surprised when I finally do look at my watch as I was as a child when I noticed the sun setting. So, while a watch is a tool, it is not a magical cure-all. Certain watches and clocks work well for some ADHD adults, but I have yet to find one that works consistently for me.
Gauging Time Is Still a Chore as an Adult with ADHD
While accurately measuring time continues to be a concern for me, at least I am aware that my inability to gauge time is a symptom of my ADHD. That awareness provides a starting point. I know that I must plan ahead in order to meet a deadline or to arrive at a venue on time. While wearing a wristwatch has failed to be a panacea or cure-all, I feel lost without one because the position of the sun in the sky has never served me well in the past.
If ever there was a “good” time to be an adult living with ADHD, perhaps the present is it. There are visual countdown timers available that can help a person gauge time because you literally “see time moving” as the colored section on the timer disappears while time passes.
My watch sets itself via radio signal and operates via a rechargeable solar battery. I’ve worn the watch daily for more than seven years running and have never needed to replace a battery, nor must I remember to wind the watch or reset the time or date.
My android phone may be the coolest tool of all: I can set dozens of timers and alarms to go off throughout the day. The loud alarm and my intense need to silence it will jar me from even the deepest daze.
Now I have the awareness and the tools to better manage my time and stay on schedule, but even the best tools do not alleviate the symptoms because yes, here I am, late once again.