Many people affected by ADHD struggle with being on time. I used to struggle with this myself. I was late to everything for years. It began to affect my relationships because people couldn’t count on me to be where I said I would be when I said I would be. One day I realized that always being late was showing profound disrespect for the time of others. Disrespect in a relationship can be extremely damaging.
In order to stop being late all the time I committed to a set of guidelines.
- Look at your calendar the night before to figure out how you want the next day to play out. Especially note when your first appointment or task for the day begins.
- Look at your calendar in the morning to sure you know what you have to do that day.
- If you are nervous about missing an appointment, set your phone alarm to remind you when you need to leave for the appointment.
- Keep your bag packed and near the door so you can grab it and go. This means if you remove something from your bag while at home, you must be sure to put it back in the bag as soon as possible. This way you are not running around at the last minute looking for your keys or some other necessity.
- Estimate how long it will take to get somewhere based on the longest time it has ever taken rather than the shortest time it has ever taken. If going to a place you have never been before add extra time just in case you get lost or delayed.
- Always have something with you to do so if you are early you can use that time productively.
- If you end up being late, apologize briefly and move on. Don’t waste someone’s time going through all the in’s and out’s of why you were late. Most don’t care and you are wasting more of their time with long explanations.
People affected by ADHD are often poor time estimators. We are often unrealistic as to how long something will take us to do. Many of us also struggle with prioritizing. How this plays out when trying to be on time is that we often start things we can’t finish before we have to leave and go somewhere. For example, you have 15 minutes before you have to leave to be somewhere. Instead of using that time to make sure you have everything you need to leave and a plan to get where you are going, you start a new task. One that will take you longer than 15 minutes. The result is being late. I try not to start anything new 15 minutes before I have to leave to be somewhere. Instead I finish up the task I was doing or find a good stopping point and prepare to leave. It might mean I get to my appointment early but early is better than late. It shows you are respecting the time of others.
Time is finite. It does not expand to suite our needs. We have to always be thinking ahead as to what is next and what time does it start.