People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can experience issues with time management. Sticking to routines, planning, and reframing ADHD may help those with this condition manage their time.

ADHD is a condition that causes a wide range of symptoms. The most notable are difficulties maintaining attention or focus and periods of hyperactivity or excitability.

Some people with ADHD also report trouble with time management. This can include difficulty predicting how long tasks might take, remembering when certain events happened or are supposed to happen, and ordering events in time.

This article discusses why individuals with ADHD may have trouble with time management before detailing some time management tips. It also explains how people can support children who have ADHD to manage their time effectively.

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According to a 2019 article, people with ADHD may experience difficulty planning and managing time effectively. This can make it harder to be productive and may cause stress at school, university, or work. It can also make personal time management difficult.

A 2019 review suggests a potential connection between ADHD and the perception of time. However, it notes that further research on ADHD and time management, as well as other executive functions, is necessary.

Some time management difficulties that people with ADHD may experience include:

  • estimating how much time is passing
  • predicting how long various tasks might take
  • recalling time-based information from working memory
  • ordering events in time

The review also highlights that not all individuals with ADHD experience problems with time perception.

A 2019 article details some tips that may help people with ADHD to manage their time. However, it is important to note that this study relies upon the self-reported efficacy of these tips, so these reports may not always be wholly reliable.

Scientists have not yet tested the following ADHD time management techniques in a more rigorous, objective way.

Maintaining habits and routines

Some people with ADHD may find that establishing routines and habits can help with time management and productivity. These routines and habits can include:

  • creating a structured plan for mornings
  • getting more tasks done in the mornings to free up time and mental energy for later in the day
  • using a planning system to set out tasks in advance, such as a calendar or daily planner
  • using digital reminder systems or checklists
  • prioritizing tasks, for instance, by doing the hardest or most urgent ones first

Reframing ADHD

People with ADHD may find it helpful to reframe instances when they have been unable to manage their time. This can guard against negative self-assessments and perceived disappointment.

Such negative thinking can make it harder for those with ADHD to work on their time management difficulties.

Reframing can involve focusing on positives, such as personal accomplishments. It can also mean developing a growth mindset, which focuses on improving time management rather than regretting previous time management strategies.

Children with ADHD may require extra support if they are experiencing difficulties with time management.

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) provides some useful tips for supporting a child with ADHD, such as:

  • set boundaries about expected behavior and time constraints
  • plan the child’s day with them
  • give simple, specific instructions rather than complicated or vague ones
  • praise the child’s positive actions and make the reasons for this very clear
  • create an incentive scheme for completing certain activities or tasks on time
  • intervene early if a child is having difficulty managing time by themselves
  • speak to teachers at school to obtain additional support for the child
  • create a reliable, structured bedtime routine and avoid stimulating activities in the evening

Tips on time management as a carer

Caring for a person or child with ADHD can be challenging and time-consuming. Therefore, parents and carers may also benefit from time management tips and techniques.

Some ways a person can manage their own time when caring for someone with ADHD include:

  • automate tasks when possible, such as paying bills with direct debit
  • set clear boundaries at work or with friends and family
  • stick to a routine where possible
  • plan activities in advance
  • prioritize and maintain self-care
  • use planners and calendars
  • create checklists to avoid forgetting tasks
  • enlist the help of others where possible, such as teachers and healthcare professionals

ADHD is a psychological condition that can affect a person’s ability to manage their time. This may result from ADHD causing problems with time perception.

Some people with ADHD can find it hard to remember the times of past or planned events. They may also have difficulties gauging how much time is passing or how long it takes to perform certain tasks.

Various strategies can help people with ADHD manage their time. These include having a productive and structured morning, using planning and reminder systems, and prioritizing tasks. Cultivating a positive, growth-focused mindset can also help.