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  • Episode 15

ADHD and time blindness

In today’s episode, I talk about how folks with ADHD have trouble perceiving time.


Hello, hello, hello. This is the ADHD for the Win podcast. I’m Chris Ferdinandi. Thanks so much for joining me. The other day we talked about the temporal dead zone. Today, I wanted to talk about ADHD. And time blindness, let’s dig in. So time blindness is the inability to accurately perceive the passing of time.

And while everyone experiences this to some degree, it’s that whole time flies when you’re having fun adage. It’s an ever present reality for many people with ADHD where this often affects developers with ADHD is our. inability to estimate how long tasks will take, even if we’ve done those tasks before.

It makes you more likely to miss meetings and to overcommit to projects and requests. You may also forget to take food out of the oven or switch your laundry. It means that boring tasks feel like they’re taking forever. But you can spend 12 hours working on something you love and feel like barely any time has passed at all.

So what can you do about it? I’m a big fan of working with your ADHD rather than fighting it and I’ll drop a link to an article in an episode I did on that down in the show notes But for me, that means that I do my best work on bigger projects that involve solving interesting and challenging Those engage my brain in a way that triggers hyperfocus and lets me do my best work while feeling like no time has gone by at all.

If you’re in a position to do so, figuring out what those tasks are for you and then working with your manager to get assigned to more work like that can go a long way. But, that’s not always an option. Systems and tools can help you out here a bit too. If you need to track hours, use a tracking app. Like toggle, that’s when I used to use all the time, uh, when I was doing hourly related stuff or needed to track hours, setting lots of repeated reminders for important meetings.

So you don’t miss them. Like I literally would set 15 minutes before 10 minutes before five minutes before and two minutes before, because I would end up dismissing instead of snoozing meetings. And then I would miss them entirely. Um, similarly setting annoying timers for things you can’t afford to miss or forget like taking food out of the oven.

ADHD medication, caffeine, exercise, and sunlight all stimulate your brain in a way that can reduce time blindness a bit, promote the production of dopamine, which, uh, reduces time blindness. To an extent where I think we often have the most trouble though is in jobs where we have to do lots of boring, repetitive tasks with lots of interruptions throughout the day.

These are certainly the jobs where I’ve felt the most like I was going to fail. And I hear similar stories from other developers with ADHD all the time. So in a future episode, I’m going to talk about how to have a conversation with your manager about your ADHD. And ask for accommodations, but that’s it for today.

Uh, if you feel like your ADHD is holding you back, I send out a short email each weekday on how to unlock your neurodivergent superpowers, head over to ADHD for the wind. com to sign up. That is it for today and I’ll see you next time. Cheers.