Get Where You Need to Go On Time, even with ADHD.
Getting to places on time, is a common scenario that my clients struggle with. Here’s how I helped one client get to her very first job successfully!
Client X was a young woman who had just landed her first job. She was delighted with herself about how she handled the interview and was looking forward to working in this new position. However, she was extremely anxious about how she was going to get to the job on time each day. According to my client she had a track record of being late for everything. Completely focused on her past negative experiences of being late and with her imagination running overtime, in her mind’s eye she was already losing the job by not being there on time. This negative belief about herself was threatening to derail all the hard work she put in to get the job in the first place.
I pointed out to my client that she had in fact got to our coaching session in good time and asked her how she had accomplished this. She was a bit taken aback to grasp that here was evidence of her being somewhere on time. She began to realise that her attention was fixated on the occasions she had been late. She laughed and told me she’d used a reminder alarm on her phone. Because she was in the habit of having a phone with her everywhere she went, this worked well for her. Here was one tactic we could put to good use in order to help her get to work on time.
Next, we took an in-depth look at my client’s time estimation skills. I wanted to find out whether her way of judging how long it would take to accomplish tasks could be contributing to her challenges. Those of us with ADHD commonly have difficulties with estimating time accurately, and this can be one of the factors that leads to consistently being late.
We broke down the time after waking into all the tasks my client would need to accomplish before she left the house, and looked at each of them as separate entities. It turned out she was underestimating the time it would take her to get ready in the morning by a good 30 minutes. No wonder she was so often late. She simply had not been allowing enough time for all she needed to do in order to leave the house in the morning. I also helped her to understand that factoring in some time for whatever might arise unexpectedly was a key part of estimating time successfully.
As a result of this new understanding, my client was able to adjust the time she would set her alarm to wake up and wake up 45 minutes earlier.
At this point my client said she already felt far more confident about getting to her new job on time, but there remained a tiny bit of uncertainty. As there were a few days left before the first day, I explained to my client that practising first with the pressure off can be a valuable way to start creating a new habit. She was very enthusiastic about this idea, and realised that in this way, she could tweak her timings if anything cropped up that she had forgotten about.
One week later when we met again, my client was excited to report that she had practised for the few days leading up to her first day at the job and had indeed discovered a couple of tweaks to her timings which she had addressed. She proudly told me that on the first day of her new job, she had arrived on time! On top of this she said the feeling of being in control of her time had allowed her a calm and confidence which made the whole day go well. This was a new and extremely positive experience for her.
Here’s what you can do to help yourself be on time:
- Find out which negative beliefs about your capabilities may be getting in your way. You can certainly get a coach to help you with this.
- Look at strategies you already use successfully in other parts of your life.
- For issues with time, use timers, alarms, and reminders to help you.
- Examine your time estimation skills for what you are trying to accomplish. Are you over or under-estimating time?
- Chunk things down into their constituent parts so you can see them more clearly.
- Factor in some contingency time for the unexpected.
- To create a new habit, start practising when the pressure is off.
- Make adjustments and tweaks as required before any critical points.
By selecting the right strategies, ADHD doesn’t need to be a barrier to getting where you need to be on time and in control.
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If time management and/or organisation are a challenge for you, please do get in touch to check my availability for one to one coaching.
I’m coach Anna Schlapp, B.A., ACC, coaching people with ADHD and other co-occurring conditions for 8 years in the UK and worldwide. You can get in touch with me here