Last updated:

November 4, 2022


 min read

ADHD symptoms in adults: What is time blindness?

Time blindness is one of the major symptoms for people living with ADHD. Read on to find out exactly what time blindness is and how you can manage it.

Reviewed by
Written by
Paridhi Gupta

What is Time Blindness?

When informed that we are to be present at a specific event at a certain time, most individuals are able to estimate, with reasonable accuracy, how long they’ll take to get ready and arrive on time. That is because even without checking a clock, most people can usually estimate how much time has passed. Time blindness is the inability to do so. It is a pervasive tendency to inaccurately estimate how long certain tasks will take or how much time is left before a deadline. People with time blindness find it hard to make a realistic schedule and stick to it, and they might constantly feel like time is slipping out of their hands.

Imagine a task on your schedule that you kept putting off because it seemed to require too much of your time, but when you finally got around to it, it barely took a few minutes. Or the assignment you thought you could finish in an hour ended up taking two because you didn’t factor in the time it’ll take you to compile all the relevant information. Sounds familiar? If you've ever wondered “is time blindness real”, now you know!

Time blindness can lead to a chronic cycle of setting and agreeing to unrealistic deadlines and being unable to meet them. This, in turn, fuels feelings of shame, guilt, low self-esteem, and a generally poor perception of one’s time management skills.

What is Time Blindness A Symptom Of?

Despite being pervasive, a symptom of ADHD, time blindness is often overlooked. In reality, the internal clocks of people with ADHD function are very different from that of neurotypical people. Another interesting concept related to time blindness in ADHD is the 'time horizon', which is our ability to plan ahead. The time horizon for people with ADHD is relatively shorter than that of neurotypical individuals. This can explain the difficulty in meeting deadlines and knowing when to start a task to finish it on time.

How To Deal With Time Blindness

Take Out The Time To Plan

For effective time management, it is essential to plan in advance. People with ADHD often overlook the time that goes into planning and setting up a task even before it begins, and this ultimately leads to things taking more time than we expected them to and a delay in meeting deadlines. Therefore, plan your schedule ahead of time so that you have a basic guideline to stick to.  

Be Wary Of Engrossing Tasks

If you know there’s something important coming up in the next couple of hours, avoid getting started on things that tend to suck your time. For instance, starting a new show a few hours before an important meeting is probably not a good idea if you have a habit of binge-watching.

Keep Track Of Time Spent

One of the most logical ways to overcome time blindness is to minimise blindness. You can do this by actively keeping track of time. Since it can be difficult to estimate time on one’s own, it can be helpful to note down the time taken for each task or to set timers to help you move from one task to the next at the right time. 

Set Different Alarms For Different Things

Transitioning from one task to another can be difficult for neurodivergent folks, especially those with ADHD. Setting multiple alarms is an effective way to motivate yourself to do this. By setting multiple alarms at time gaps of 5-10 minutes before the exact moment you have to transition, you can give yourself the time to mentally prepare for it.

Instead of setting the same alarm for everything, you can set different alarms for different tasks, such as getting ready in the morning, taking your medicines, etc. A task-appropriate playlist or song is also a great way to motivate yourself!

Break Things Down

It can feel daunting to start a seemingly complex task, which is why it’s a good idea to break it down into parts. This makes it easier to get started on the task as well as to estimate how much time it would take in total since you’d be aware of all the sub-tasks.

For instance, getting ready for work in the morning involves several subtasks - waking up, brushing, taking a bath, having breakfast, and putting on clothes. Rather than attempting to take on everything at once, break it down and focus on just one task at a time.

Allow Yourself Some Breathing Space

Finally, allow yourself the space to rest and relax before transitioning between tasks. Further, it’s a good idea to keep some extra time allotted for each task to make up for any unexpected delays. If you have an event to attend at 6 pm, it’s wise to start getting ready at least two hours in advance just in case there’s any unexpected distraction or traffic.

Need Help?

We hope these tips are useful for you! If you think you have ADHD and are struggling with time blindness or any other symptom that is impacting your daily life, Rocket Health’s online therapy services are just a click away!