Three ADHD related issues that contribute to chronic lateness
As an ADHD Life Coach I often hear about difficulty with getting places on time. By becoming aware of three basic symptoms of ADHD that contribute to chronic lateness, you can become one of those people who is always on time.
1) Not being realistic about time
ADHD affects executive function: the part of our mind that, among other things, allows us to be aware of time passing. We can grossly underestimate how long it takes to do things or get somewhere. For example, let’s take getting to work on time. If we need to be there by 9 o’clock, we’ll resolve to haul ourselves out of bed by 7. We figure that it’ll take five minutes to shower, 10 minutes to get dressed, forget to factor in eating breakfast, and allow 5 minutes to check our e-mail. By this reckoning, we’ll be on time or possible early. But with our slippery sense of timing, scattered focus and difficulty initiating tasks, we get distracted, dilly dally, stop and look at something, get lost in reading e-mail or worse, social media. If we are not aware of how our ADHD triggered habits affect our sense of time, then when we do suddenly realize how late we are, a mad rush to get out the door ensues. We’ll also have to turn back 2 or 3 times after we’ve left to get our coat, brief case or lunch. It’s important for those of us with ADHD to be aware of our particular behaviours and either increase the time we allow to get out the door or work on setting up some strategies for taking less time.
2) Not getting enough sleep
Late at night is often an ADHDers most interesting and productive time of day so ending it can be a challenge. Once we have managed to tear ourselves away from our late night activities, some won’t be able to fall asleep and others won’t be able stay asleep for a full 8 hours. Our ADHD brains may be at full throttle even as we desperately want to sleep. If we haven’t slept well, getting up when the alarm goes off becomes mission impossible.
To have a chance of getting up on time, we have to get to sleep. Some have to resort to medication to help them sleep however there are a lot of non-medication solutions to try. First, work on your sleep hygiene. This means turning off the screen technology by 9pm, eating early in the evening and avoiding sugar, setting the mood for sleep a half hour before turning in by dimming lights and possibly having a cup of relaxing herbal tea. Some have found listening to sleep inducing apps helpful as well as meditation. We also have to remember to set the alarm clock, possibly two (the back-up one somewhere far from our bed so that we’ll have to get up to turn it off).
We have to make getting to sleep at a good time a top priority. It’s worth spending the time to figure out what works for us and allowing time in the evening for setting ourselves up for good Zzzzzs.
3) Not wanting to go
The single greatest ADHD cure is passion. In order to pump up our executive function so that it’s working at optimum potential—including our ability to get to places on time—we need to be excited about where ever it is we’re going. Is it possible that we’re procrastinating and not getting out the door on time because we don’t want to go? If we hate our work, not sure it’s the right job for us or resent doing something, we need to look at that and take control of our actions. If we are compelled to show up somewhere that’s not that interesting due to commitments we must keep, we have to come up with an angle, strategies or support from others to make it happen responsibly. If you have to go somewhere, then for a short time you can get stoked about being that ADHDer who does what has to be done, and get there on time.