Now and Not Now, the Two Time Zones



For many individuals with ADHD and/or Executive Function challenges, rather than having an internal clock which perceives the passing of time, time is experienced from two sorts of “time zones,” Now and Not Now. If something is not happening now then it is happening not now. Things that are not now do not need to be attended to.

Often, people who struggle with time management believe that they “work best under pressure.” This may be true at times. To a coworker, partner, or parent, this can be very upsetting as the task that was assigned a month ago is left to the last minute and then done with added stress and anxiety.

This now and not now orientation ends well sometimes- but not often enough. Often when your internal clock is not synched with reality and therefore you do not know how to estimate how long a task will take, you allow yourself to do, “just one more thing” before you get started on a time sensitive task.

Good time management boils down to effectively using the present moment to bring a better future. The secret to smart time management is learning to externalize time by using tools and motivational strategies to feel the passing of time.

TIPS... By setting timers and alarms, you can externalize this function and operate wonderfully without having to rely on your own internal clock or memory.

When your internal clock is unreliable, you need to lean heavily on external ones. Old-fashioned analog clocks — not digital clocks — are useful. The movement of the hands represent the passage of time; the numbers of a digital clock can be too abstract. The Time Timer, available on Amazon, shows the remaining time as a constantly shrinking red slice on the clock’s face.

Some individuals externalize time by setting up systems that remind them of it constantly. That might mean setting alarms, utilizing phone reminders, or scheduling to-do list items directly into a calendar. Designate specific times for specific regular tasks.

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