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  • Kathleen R. Bogart Ph.D. and Mollie Greenblum

How ADHD Leads to Time Blindness

5 tips to stop the time warp.

How ADHD Leads to Time Blindness

  • People with ADHD frequently experience a warped perception of the passage of time known as time blindness.

  • People may mistakenly label those with ADHD as unprofessional due to symptoms such as running late.

  • Strategies to cope with time blindness include time logs, planners, and harnessing the tendency to hyperfocus.

Do you have ADHD and feel like you are constantly losing track of time? If so, you might be experiencing time blindness, or a warped perception of the passing of time.

Houston ADHD Leads to Time Blindness Appointment

While time blindness is not listed as an official symptom of ADHD in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), it is a common experience for those with ADHD. Usually, people can sense what time it is and how much time has passed using environmental elements like light and sound. Time blindness occurs when the process of perceiving time is disrupted. People with ADHD often struggle with estimating how much time has passed and how much time there is before an event (perceiving time), recounting the order of when events occurred (time sequencing), and replicating a task that has occurred previously in the same amount of time (time reproduction). In German studies on children with ADHD, researchers found that children with ADHD overestimated or underestimated the amount of time that had passed to a much greater extent than children without ADHD.

While the reasons behind time blindness are not fully understood, ongoing research is being conducted on the potential mechanisms. One study found that when performing tasks in studies that are perceived as uninteresting or repetitive, participants with ADHD tend to perform worse than participants without ADHD. However, participants with ADHD tend to be quicker at detecting emotionally relevant or situational stimuli than participants without ADHD. While intense emotions can disrupt cognitive functions for people without ADHD, these intense emotions might be what people with ADHD need to perform cognitive functions effectively. In a study comparing the perception of time on neutral and emotionally charged tasks, they found that while participants with ADHD performed poorer than those without ADHD on neutral time perception tasks, they outperformed them on emotionally charged time perception tasks. The findings of this study suggest that time blindness could be connected to attention, emotion, and motivation.

Recent research has also linked time blindness with dopamine deficiencies, and dopamine boosters like stimulant medication and monetary rewards can improve time perception in those with ADHD. One study on the influence of medication found that children with ADHD who took medication performed better than those who did not take medication, even when distractions were added to the experiment. Similar results were found when participants were offered monetary rewards for tasks in studies.

Houston ADHD Leads to Time Blindness In Person Appointment

Houston ADHD Leads to Time Blindness Online Appointment

While everyone runs late occasionally or loses an hour scrolling on social media, time blindness impacts the lives of people with ADHD every day. Time blindness can lead people with ADHD to repeatedly miss deadlines, arrive late even for events they are excited for, lose track of time constantly, have difficulty making and/or sticking to a schedule, experience slow reaction times, and have difficulty regulating their speed of movement. Some of these effects, like running late and missing deadlines, can lead people to view those with ADHD as unprofessional or lazy, but really, they just perceive time differently.

How to Cope with Time Blindness

So, how can those with ADHD cope with time blindness? Listed below are multiple methods recommended to those with ADHD to improve their focus and accommodate their time blindness.

1. Time Logs: One recommendation for those with ADHD is to time how long it takes for you to complete the tasks you perform in your daily life or that you need an accurate perception of time for. Even though the exact amount of time it takes to complete these tasks can change on a day-to-day basis, it can help people with ADHD gain a better idea of how long it generally takes them to complete the task.

2. Pomodoro Method: The Pomodoro Method is a technique used for studying and completing work tasks. With this method, you set a timer for 25 minutes and work on one task until the time is up. Once the timer goes off, you can take a 5-minute break before returning to your task for another 25 minutes. This pattern of working for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break is repeated until the task is complete. Every fourth round, you can take a longer break, like for one hour. By committing to brief periods of focus, this technique can help people stay on task and avoid taking longer breaks or procrastinating. Another benefit of this method is that it is easily customizable. If you are working on a task that is more mentally draining or you are struggling to focus, you can set a timer for 15 minutes of work time and take a 2-minute break.

3. Timers: Similar to the use of timers in the Pomodoro Method, it can be beneficial to set timers for any activity where you might get lost in time. Setting a timer in advance can help pull you back, remind you to check the clock, and help you externalize how much time has passed. With tasks like cooking, setting a timer before leaving the kitchen will remind you to check on your food and prevent you from overcooking your meal or having your water boil over. With activities like scrolling through social media, setting a timer for a set amount of time will ensure you don’t spend hours doomscrolling on TikTok. Timers can also be used to help prevent you from losing hours to a single task or remind you to eat lunch.

Sometimes when a timer goes off, you can ignore it and forget. To overcome this, try setting multiple alarms. If you struggle with leaving on time, you can set one for 15 minutes before and another for 5 minutes before, that way you don’t lose track of time between timers.

If you have a difficult time visualizing the passing of time with a timer on your phone, you can use a digital timer that changes color or an hourglass where you can see the sand slip through.

4. Planners: While some with ADHD struggle with planners, they can help others with ADHD visualize what they need to do and how much time they have before a deadline. For a big project, you can use a planner to work backward from a due date, dividing the project into smaller chunks with their due dates. Another way to use planners is to divide a day into chunks and mark out times that you can work on homework or a big project. Using a planner can help you plan things in advance, but it can also help you feel accomplished and more motivated by checking off the tasks listed on paper.

5. Time-Warp Activities: While people with ADHD sometimes have trouble focusing, the opposite can be a problem as well. When a topic or activity particularly interests someone with ADHD, they can hyperfocus, or have long-lasting episodes of highly focused attention. Hyperfocus can be beneficial in some situations but can lead to more time blindness. It can be helpful to schedule a time to engage in these “time-warp activities” so that you don’t miss a deadline or event.

Kathleen Bogart, Ph.D., and Mollie Greenblum - Website -

Mollie Greenblum is an alum of Dr. Bogart’s Psychology of Disability class. She recently graduated from OSU's Honors College with a B.S. in Psychology.


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