On Time Blindness

Every time I read a general article about ADHD I see reference to “time blindness” making people with ADHD notoriously late. I always skim over that section of any article because I am never late and when I am (it is VERY rare) it is usually for a specific reason (recently I missed a Zoom cal because of the time change issues) and I feel MORTIFIED.

But this week as I was skimming past I noticed a phrase…because they don’t know how long things take…and it stopped me in my tracks. WAIT. Is that what time blindness is? BECAUSE THAT IS ME.

Here’s the thing…I’m not punctual, I am chronically early. And…there is a big difference. My husband is punctual and it stresses me out because he’ll leave 17 minutes to get somewhere because it takes…seventeen minutes. But for me, I don’t really know exactly how long it takes to get anywhere so I always round up in 15 minute increments. So I will give us 30 minutes to get somewhere. He’ll say, “We only need 17 minutes,” and I’ll say, “But what if we hit a bunch of red lights?” to which he replies, “Won’t make that much of a time difference.”

WHAT DO YOU MEAN? ONE RED LIGHT COULD RUIN EVERYTHING. IT COULD MAKE US TEN MINUTES LATE!

(Because I have no idea how long a red light lasts.)

But he is always on time. Sometimes early. Never late. He has a very clear vision of how long it takes to get dressed, get to the car, load up the car, and arrive somewhere. Whereas I do not so I round up with everything. I start getting ready 2 hours early because I honestly have no idea how long it takes me to shower or get dressed. I don’t know how long it takes to put things in the car. I just know an amount of time that is always too much and I give myself that much time because being late terrifies me and I want to avoid it at all costs.

So, it’s like my anxiety about being late met up with my time blindness and now I overcompensate on everything.

Here’s a good example of my time blindness that doesn’t relate to punctuality. I hate cleaning my floors because it…takes forever. I have two systems I use, I used the Swifter wet pads and/or I use a (very inexpensive) steam mop. Both are designed to be quick and easy. The Swifter wet pads get it a little cleaner, but it’s wasteful so mostly I use the steam mop but I do try to do the cleaner pads periodically. And do you know when I do either? WHEN PEOPLE ARE COMING OVER. So do you know how long it’s been? SINCE MARCH.

But sometimes Zoomie has an accident or there’s a spill and I’ll have to clean something up and I always notice how dirty the floors are then. Or Zoomie will track mud in the house and I’ll have to do a lot of cleaning of the floors and I’m always looking at the pads like…ugggggggggggg.

So. This weekend I did an experiment. On Friday I decided to Swifter Wet Pad the main living area. That’s basically my kitchen/living room/dining area. It’s all open and probably represents a little less than half of the house. So, like 700 square feet? I decided to time it to see how long it would take.

Do you know how long it took to Swifter Wet Pad all of the main area? And that’s with moving chairs and barstools around and stopping for coffee breaks? 35 minutes. THIRTY FIVE MINUTES. That is all it took. WHY DID I THINK IT TOOK LIKE AN HOUR OR MORE?

So that was Friday, and I decided Saturday morning to do a quick steam mop run on (without moving furniture) and do you know how long that took? FIFTEEN MINUTES. Why do I avoid cleaning my floors so much? FIFTEEN MINUTES? Are you kidding me? I can accidentally spend that much time scrolling TikTok while my coffee brews. THAT IS NOT A LOT OF TIME AT ALL.

Guess what habit I started now? I steam mop my floors with my first cup of coffee in the mornings. I decided I can take the 15 minutes to try to stay ahead of the winter mud that gets tracked in by the dogs and the dribbles by the kids (and their Mom, let’s be honest) and then I won’t ever look around and be disgusted by how dirty my socks get simply walking across the floor.

Also…bonus…if you steam mop the floors while everyone (including the dog) is still asleep they dry without before anyone needs to cross the floors.

I was just blown away. I know it sounds silly, but the fact that it only takes 15 minutes to steam mop my main living space, or 30 minutes to clean it with the Swifter wet pad…it blows my damn mind. So I guess my solution now to some of the complications I now realize is caused by time blindness, is to memorize how long it takes certain tasks. Next up? Showering! Or taking a bath! I have no idea how long it takes for me to do either, I always give myself an hour.

5 thoughts on “On Time Blindness”

  1. This is awesome. My husband has ADHD (and time blindness), but he has the (more typical, I think?) issue where he underestimates time TERRIBLY and thus is always late. Which causes me physical pain.

  2. So I don’t clean my floors often for the same reason and I am constantly thinking, “I need to clean the floors.” Now I an inclined to attempt your experiment and see how long it takes me.

  3. My gosh, this is so relatable it hurts. With my dual diagnosis, I’m never sure if my time blindness is coming from the ASD or ADHD but I’m reading this from my car in the parking lot which I’ve been sitting in because I arrived to a (socially distanced) concert 34 minutes early. I’m able to mask it and compensate so that no-one would guess it was an issue except for my family but it makes jobs which require time management extremely difficult. People tend to confuse intelligence with success in time management and the two are NOT correlated.

  4. I’ve been diagnosed with ADD and I always underestimate how long things take so I’m usually late or don’t get things finished. However, my husband and I have done the timer thing on some stuff and found that it only takes two minutes to empty the dishwasher. I could have sworn it took like twenty. Lol.
    Related- we read an article a long time ago about a family game/activity called “five minute pick up” where you set the timer for five minutes and everyone cleans what they can for five minutes. It works wonders because a) we get a whole lot more done in five minutes than we thought we would and b) we usually keep going after the timer is up.

  5. I can usually do this and aim to be on time. But sometimes I am a bit late. Just never for PT or counseling. My daughter with ADHD has time blindness. I could never figure out why she couldnt do that and I fussed at her a lot for it. Like, why are you not ready, you know it takes 20 minutes to get to Bobbies, why are you not in dance clothes? She is married to a punctual husband, so she has learned to do it.. For you look for 2 apps, Time timer and visual Time Timer. You can set them to when you need to leave to be there no more than 5 or 10 minutes late. They are free

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