imagine we have time to do one more
thing, when, if we thought for a second,
we’d know we don’t?
What Time Is It?
Years ago, I made an observation that
many people have picked up on, namely,
that in the world of ADHD, there are
basically only two times. There is now, and
there is not now. Not until “not now” butts
up against “now” do we even notice it.
That lies at the root of our procrastina-
Defuse the Time Bomb
tion—the lack of an inner clock, which
most people have. We feel a sense of
timelessness. We enter the workplace or
mall governed by curiosity, desire,
While the teacher or boss says, “Time’s almost
up, deadline is near,” we don’t hear the words, let
alone react to them. Contrary to popular belief,
this is not defiance, or a feeling of being entitled
and above the rules, or not caring. This is because
we do not have that sense of time that others
have, that sense of a due date.
So what are we to do? Flunk out of school, get
fired from job after job, lose one relationship
after another—all because of our different sense
of time? Sometimes that’s exactly what happens.
But there is a better way.
> First, recognize your differences.
> Second, recognize that you have to change
your ways in order to survive and thrive.
> Make friends with structure. Don’t fight it.
> Get someone—a coach, friend, tutor, or
spouse—to help you set up common-sense
techniques to manage time, using a clock, a
timer, an appointment book, a reminder system.
This is not rocket science, but they work.
All you have to do is snap out of the twilight
zone long enough to set up structures, hire that
coach, and work with that tutor to learn the
habits that will propel you out of la-la land and
into real life.
BACK IN THE 1980S, A PATIENT I WAS SEEING for ADD (that’s what we called it then; out of habit, I still do, even though I know
it’s not correct), said something I’ve never
forgotten. “Time,” he said, “is the thing that stops
everything from happening all at once.”
Yet for people who have the fascinating
condition so misleadingly called ADHD, everything
does seem to happen all at once, despite the way
time separates second from second.
Those of us who have been diagnosed with
ADHD live in a different world. We rarely know
what time it is, we often arrive late, we don’t stay
long, and we put off doing things until the last
minute, if we do them at all. Most people live in a
world governed by time—sectioned off by time,
regulated by time. They live by the clock.
Baseball is one of the few sports that is not
driven by the clock. The game ends when it ends.
Theoretically, a baseball game could go on
forever. It is one of baseball’s many charms: It
insists on finishing the game at its own pace.
Most people who have ADHD don’t like baseball,
because it is too slow and lacks sustained action.
What ADHDers do like, however, is the game’s
refusal to live by the clock.
Unfortunately, we live in a clock-driven
world. So what do we do? How do we overcome our
tendency to ignore time, to procrastinate, to S I R
Dr. Ned Hallowell
has ADHD himself, and
is a practicing psychiatrist and founder of
the Hallowell Center
for Cognitive and
outside Boston, and
in New York City. He is
the author of 19 books,
including Driven to
Distraction at Work.
Your ADD Life
Time-tested solutions for making it in a