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.