Trouble With Time? Mindful Awareness Tips #3

“I was late for work three times last week.”

“My friends always joke about me being the last to arrive.”

“I get caught in one project and forget to move to the next.”

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. One previous blog post addressed the following helpful strategy:

  • Time your daily experiences repeatedly to look at the pattern or average.

Another post addressed the following tip:

  • Set a timer for random amounts of time; when it rings, check in with yourself to see if you are on task or distracted. 

This post will address the following:

  • Use external aids like a large analog wall clock, a “time timer,” and/or a calendar and/or adhesive strips (“stickies”) in your planner, to increase your mindful awareness of time.


If you are not mindful of the passage of time, procrastination, distraction and other problems related to managing time can become serious problems. Yet, sensing the passage of time is often not innate for individuals with ADHD.

Developing mindful awareness of time can be aided by using external aids to “see” time. 

1) To make the passage of minutes and hours visible for yourself, try these two tips:

  • Dispose of your digital clocks and watches and switching back to analog. Yes, really : )  Digital time devices only display numbers with no way to “see” that ten minutes is twice as long as five minutes or that ten minutes has “passed.”
  • An even more visually dramatic tool to consider is the Time-timer. This unique timer, also available in watch form, is set up like an analogue clock face but has a red disk that moves with the passage of time. Take a look at this you-tube video explaining its use:

The Time-timer is also available as a smart phone app.

2) To visualize the passage of days and weeks, try these tips:

  • Hang calendars prominently around your home and office. Then, make frequent use of the calendars to play with time passing: cross off the days as they pass, post upcoming events, you could even number a ten-day countdown to an anticipated event right on the calendar. 
  • Similarly, use a planner – preferably with a week-at-a-glance feature – every day. Check the planner at least daily, but ideally no less often than morning, mid-day and evening.

3) If you tend to procrastinate until projects and deadlines all converge, overwhelming you, consider this useful tip from ADHD coach Paula Altshul to help you visualize the way you are managing tasksvand/or the steps of each longer project

  •  List various “to-do”s, tasks, and the step of longer projects individually on small adhesive strips (“stickies”) and place these in your planner in a way that will allow you to attend to a reasonable amount each day and still complete projects by their deadlines. 
  • Now, if you don’t attend to one (or ore) of the tasks on a particular day, reschedule it (them) by moving its strip (“stickie”) to another day. As “stickies” begin to pile up on certain days, you will actually SEE the back-up and over-scheduling before you get too close to your due date.


So, tools such as an analogue clock, Time-timer, calendar, and “stickies” in a planner are several ways to help visualize the passage of time.

Now consider:

  • How might any of these strategies be useful to you?
  • Which seem most interesting or potentially useful?
  • What might you try in the coming week?

Put the suggestions from these three time-related blog posts in place, use the strategies consistently, and likely your sense of time will begin to improve sooner rather than later!

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