Trouble with Time? Mindful Awareness TIp #1

“I am always running late!”

“My husband is never ready on time, no matter where we are going!”

“I get home by 4:30 but I never get my homework done before 11 pm!”

Sound familiar?

Complaints related to time are not unusual for people with ADHD.  For many with ADD, time is not experienced as continuous, as on a clock or on a time-line. Instead, time is experienced as dichotomous: now and not-now.

But, a sense of time can be developed or improved upon with mindful attention. Here are a three approaches to try:

  1. Time your daily experiences repeatedly to look at the pattern or average.
  2. Set a timer for random amounts of time; when it rings, check in with yourself to see if you are on task or distracted. 
  3. Use external aids like a large analog wall clock, a “time timer,” and/or a calendar to increase your awareness of time.

This blog post will address the first strategy: Time your daily experiences repeatedly to look at the pattern or average.

Subsequent posts will address using a timer as well as other external aids.


Paying attention to how long things take can help you develop a sense of time. One way to do this is to make a list of your common daily activities, especially activities impacted by having poor sense of time: the drive to work, getting ready for school in the morning, running a load of laundry or the like.

Then, use a timer or stop-watch to time each experience on several occasions to increase your mindful awareness of how long the task actually takes. Do this several times to make sure you can calculate an average for each experience. (To get the average for each activity, add up the separate times required for that  activity and divide that total by the number of trials you did.)

Your list may look like this:

Example of averaging for drive to work: 27+35+28 = 90, then  90 divided by 3 is 30, the average.

Activities                              time 1             time 2         time 3            average time

drive to work                        27 min            35 min       28 min           30 min

clothes through washer        40 min            40 min                              40

clothes through dryer           35 min            45 min       40 min            40

With this information, you are starting to develop a conscious sense of how much time is involved in various activities that are part of your daily life. You can also use this information when planning out your day.

Watch for subsequent blog posts for additional tips to help increase your awareness of time. 

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