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Finally learn to be on time, most of the time.
If you have ADHD, timeliness is either a significant struggle for you or you hyperfocus on it and can be on time for everything in your life. In fact, you might even be early. I am not the latter of these two.
It took me years to finally consider myself to be on time. Now, my techniques have yet to make me an early bird, or an always-on-time human being. But they do shorten my lateness to a minimal amount or at least allow me to be punctual. I might never arrive at an appointment 15 minutes early, but I can come within two minutes of said appointment time. And considering where I started, that is a win for me!
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First: Keep the Important stuff Organized.
Keys, wallet, purse, planner, phone, etc. Must have a designated spot. Otherwise, you will waste precious minutes searching tirelessly for these small but essential possessions.
Give them a home.
Somewhere you know they will be when you are ready to walk out the door. My phone goes into my purse as soon as I am dressed. My keys go right next to my purse, and anything else that is critical goes underneath my purse (or sitting on top of it). These things are always left in plain view for me (on the counter). So that when I am ready to go, I can quickly grab them all in one fell swoop and walk out the door.
Second: Plan as many things as possible the day/night before.
Meals, snacks, clothing choices, etc. One that always gets me? When I need to get gas and forget. Those mornings, I can almost be on time until I see that my gas gauge is on low. By then I no longer have time to get gas but must.
Plan things the night before.
Even choosing the clothes, you want to wear can save you valuable minutes. If you discover the purple shirt you were hoping to wear is dirty. Finding this the night before instead of the morning of will give you time to wash it. Or decide on something else. These small things add up, and you don’t realize just how long they are taking you, trust me.
Third: Start overestimating your time.
If you think something will take you a half hour to do, add a half hour. If you think you can get somewhere in 30 minutes, add an extra 15. Do this until you find that sweet spot for knowing how long things actually take you.
Also, account for other people.
If you assume a dentist appointment will last precisely 1 hour, add an extra 15 minutes. If you come out of your appointment with a spare 15 minutes, then you know that those appointments only take 1 hour.
It will be better to overestimate than to underestimate. Sometimes we tend to wish something will just take us a short amount of time. When in reality we know it’s likely to take much longer than that. Stop wishing and be realistic. With yourself and others. It will help you be on time and seen as honest in the long run.
Four: Use my 3 Minute Fast rule.
If you have a hard time being on time and think you will fool yourself by setting your clock 5 minutes fast…you’re still fooling yourself. When you set your clock 5 minutes fast, you will know, and you will always do the math. You’ll see it, and instead of feeling you need to hurry you’ll say “Oh, but it’s not really that time. I have 5 extra minutes.” It totally defeats the purpose.
I have found a sweet spot when it comes to setting times ahead. Three minutes. Three minutes you won’t do the math because you will feel like there is no point, what is three minutes? It’s nothing, it’s a blink. By the time you do the math the three minutes are practically gone. You will feel the need to hurry because it’s only a 3-minute difference. But chances are that three minutes is a lot more than you realize. It’s an ATM stop. It’s a credit-card-swiping-10-dollar-gas-stop. It’s enough. Just enough to help you be on time.
Five: Check your GPS drive time ahead of time.
Like I said in organizing your life, set reminders a day out. 24 hours, 1 hour, 30 minutes, and 10-minute reminders in your phone for appointments, etc. But also, if you have to drive somewhere check your GPS ahead of time. Even if you swear it only takes you 15 minutes to get there because you’ve driven there 100 times. Check it! If you’ve been late before, check it! Check for the fastest route, check for traffic. Check.
When your clock runs at ADHD pace, we tend to underestimate all the factors that are required to go from one place to another within a reasonable amount of time. We forget about traffic, construction, that road that is closed for a flood, etc. So check your GPS before you get ready to leave.
I am not saying these tricks will fix your timeliness issues overnight. It takes dedication to create new habits where old ones are still holding on. But with practice, I have made most of these my new routine. As I said, I can be counted on to be somewhere usually within 5-10 minutes of my designated time. This is a far cry from my previous 30-45 minutes late character flaw.