Ep 45: the one about time awareness

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 How do we struggle with time? Let’s count the ways. Today we are talking about not knowing where it goes, being surprised by the time and some small steps to increase our time awareness.   This includes sharing Moira’s struggle to see and accept limitations such as 24 hours in a day, and things we can do to make time awareness easier by continuing our series on ADHD & Time, following ep. 44, the one about time blindness. 
 
Welcome to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle Podcast, for those of us with ADHD, who have had enough of trying harder and want to live a more comfortable, healthy, and happy life with less frustration and overwhelm. It’s time to get rid of guilt and shame–around having ADHD, our needs, and challenges through stories, knowledge, and humor to speak up about the experience of women, moms, and being late diagnosed with ADHD. 
 
We can build acceptance and growing our self-compassion over time, to help us take care of ourselves, ask for help when we need it, and be comfortable with who we are. Join me, Moira Maybin, as I share knowledge about ADHD to make your life easier, and what choices you have to make your tomorrow a more ADHD Friendly day.
 
Thank you for being part of the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle, hosted by Moira Maybin. Subscribe to the show on the podcast player of your choice and leave a rating and review. Join the conversation today!
 
Have a question suggestion or want to reach out? Email Ask@adhdfriendlylifestyle.com

Show Notes:

Topics discussed in today's episode:

01:19 Moira: How do I struggle with time, let’s count the ways.  

3:40 Moira: How do I know if I use magical thinking or am a time optimist? 

5:26 Moira: Start to build time awareness by noticing our relationship with time 

7:40 Moira: What is the gold standard for ADHD treatment? 

9:30 Moira: How often are you surprised with time? How do you measure time? 

11:56 Moira: A few things we can do to make time awareness easier 

14:14 Moira: Time Management Tools—how, what and when?  

16:34 Moira: Thank you for listening! If you liked this episode, please share it! 

Resources

Clinical Implications of the Perception of Time in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Review 

Meta-Analysis Finds ADHD Drugs Not Linked to Risk of Cardiovascular Disease 

Primary Source  JAMA Network Open 

Source Reference: opens in a new tab or window Zhang L, et al “Risk of cardiovascular diseases associated with medications used in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis” JAMA Netw Open 2022; DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.43597. 

Secondary Source  JAMA Network Open 

Source Reference: opens in a new tab or window Ziegelstein RC “Paying attention to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medications and cardiovascular risk” JAMA Netw Open 2022; DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.43606. 

Transcript:

Moira Maybin  00:00 I acknowledge that I live, work, and play on the shared, unceded territories of the Semiahmoo First Nation. The Semiahmoo People have been stewards of this land since time immemorial.  

Welcome to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle. I’m your host, Moira Maybin, a woman, Mom, and educator, and I have late diagnosed ADHD. The more I know about my ADHD; the easier life is to make different decisions, ones that are more ADHD friendly. We can use this time to practice getting rid of guilt or shame and spending more time with our strengths and passions. I want to share all of this with you. For show notes, including next steps, resources, and articles on this topic, visit adhdfriendlylifestyle.com.  

Moira Maybin  01:19 What motivated me to do this series on time now was realizing that my most significant lessons from 2022 were all connected to magical thinking about time. That is not true, not even a little bit. I have always struggled to estimate time before I do something while I’m in the middle of it, and even after, my sense of how much time has passed is not great. Another frustration is feeling like time is passing by without being able to complete the thing accurately or well enough. All of this, is well, common to ADHD. Even knowing this, I forget sometimes and want to believe there will be enough time to do everything I want. If this could happen, problem solved, right? I just need more time. So deep breath and Moira, practice acceptance and remind yourself, “I have ADHD, and I get distracted by shiny things. And that will make things harder”. In this case, the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow is more time. y questionable grasp on the realities of time, and being a human with ADHD impacts my time management and energy management in many ways.  

Moira Maybin  02:45 In my teens and 20s, my reality was very different from now. When my energy was high, I would pack in as much as possible. I spent the time from when I was a teenager until I was almost 30 going to school and working, volunteering, exercising, socializing, and, you know, just staying up late doing things. When I was exhausted and had no desire to move or do anything, I would crash on the couch and watch TV. I powered down, recharged, and then get going again. I now refer to these crashes as hangovers. Essentially, we’re using our very good days to borrow against tomorrow. Over time, overdoing it leads to exhaustion which leads to burnout and health complications. If you want to hear more about how time and energy are connected in ADHD, check out episode 29.  

Moira Maybin  03:40 Wanting to pack more in comes from a feeling of never having enough. Never have enough time for all I want or need to do, and always feel like I could do more or better. If I had more time or could figure out a way to get more done. It’s not a great way to live. And it’s easy to get sucked back in. How do I know when I’m using magical thinking or existing in my own space-time continuum? These days, the quickest reality check is asking a trusted person if my timeline is feasible. Others call it being a time optimist. Unfortunately, it can also be a recipe for disaster, leading to anxiety, frustration, tears, anger, overwhelm paralysis or unhealthy behaviours we use to numb or avoid.  

Moira Maybin  04:25 As my life went on, I tried to break the cycle. It didn’t matter what I tried or learned until I got my ADHD diagnosis and began to learn more about ADHD. We will always live in a world where time doesn’t quite make sense. But by using another part of our ADHD, we can crush this problem. We are phenomenal at taking basic ideas and transforming them from simple to exceptional, but most of all, working for ourselves. It only needs to work for you. What I’m saying isn’t easily done.  

There’s no rush in this process because it turns out we have time. No, really well, I was so busy trying to cram more in, I missed that I’m a better person when I’ve stopped trying to get it all done. Life is like laundry, there’s always more to do. So, I decided that instead of slamming my head against the wall, I would use my brain to accept some realities and stop fighting them. No one gets everything done. No one.  

Moira Maybin  05:26 In the last episode, the one about time blindness. We touched on our neurological differences and how we experience time combined with misconceptions that can lead to a false narrative. And that turns into procrastination, avoidance, perfectionism, and anxiety, among other things; I shared that an initial step to building time awareness was to notice our relationship with time.  Another piece in this is accepting that time and energy awareness are challenging. However, we think of it my barometers off, and I live in a different space-time continuum. Having a way to acknowledge this to ourselves, and then maybe some trusted people can be a game changer. It was such a relief when I was able to start asking people, well, what do you think? How long do you think that might take? It’s okay; we don’t have to have this all figured out. As good as we manage in some areas, everyone will struggle. The shame begins to disappear when we accept that this is one of our struggles.  

Moira Maybin  06:28 Okay, so continually accepting that time and energy awareness have been, are and, will be a challenge means I can begin to think about what to do about it. We are intelligent people. This won’t be the first time we’ve thought about becoming more aware of time or how we use it. One thing we can be curious about is what we have already tried. And how did that go? We forget some gems; we can pick up dust off and use them again. I started wearing a watch again once I was diagnosed. And that is something I will always do now.  

Moira Maybin  07:01 What if the challenge is more along these lines? Recently, an ADHD brain said that they see the big issue is that they keep telling themselves they will change. And they don’t. I’m sure we can all relate to that feeling on some level. There could be an entire season on that topic. But here’s what I’m thinking about it today. 

It is vital to acknowledge and address the struggle in our heads. As I mentioned in the previous episode, we don’t have to heal all the wounds, but we do need to acknowledge them. There are many ways to do this, including ideas shared in this in the last episode. ADHD remains the most highly treatable neurological condition, and we all deserve treatment. The gold standard for ADHD includes medication, education, lifestyle adaptations, and support. When people with ADHD are treated medically, specifically with stimulants, our perception of time tends to normalize. I know I wouldn’t have been able to make the changes I have, without every piece of a treatment plan. I need all the support. Hills don’t teach skills. But research shows that it’s tough to build, maintain, and expand our skills without medication. Medication is no longer considered a last resort, but a primary part of treatment. I am not a doctor, and it’s your right to oversee your health. I want to help us all have the knowledge and means necessary to access ADHD treatment. Related to that, recently, a new meta-analysis reviewed stimulants and non-stimulants over a span of 15 years and included over 3.9 million people. And it showed no elevated risk for hypertension, heart failure, or other cardiovascular diseases and patients at any age. That’s important for all of us to know. That debate is now over. There will be links provided in the show notes if that information will help you. For all of us, change can be very hard. And sometimes, we need a helping hand.  

Moira Maybin  09:20 There are three ways to suss out our strengths and weaknesses with time awareness. I have struggled with all of these different times. And when I’m honest, more often when my medication has worn off. How often are you surprised with time? Let me explain. The first way is being surprised at how much time has gone by. For example, this morning, I sat down at the computer. I counted on an undisturbed hour to work. I began telling myself that I will take a break when my family appears. Now, I’m sure it’s been more than an hour, but how much? I don’t know. Okay, reality check, I’m going to look at the clock. It’s been almost three hours. I am a bit surprised it’s been that long. My guess would have been about 90 minutes because it feels like “a while,” not “a long time.”  So I’m thinking that these are my measurement terms for time. And I definitely know that they can vary in length as well.  

The second type of time awareness that we can have problems with is repeatedly miscalculating time for regular things or occurrences. Who else has had many a cup of a nice warm beverage in full view, but let enough time pass until it is good and cold? Another way that happened was again today. My dog got left outside for too long and poor weather. Over be right back. How about getting out the door? What about how long it takes to get dinner ready? Are you surprised at the time you eat?  

Number three, are you surprised at how long something takes? How many things in your life feel like they will take five minutes? This is where my magical thinking shines. How about I plan 20 minutes to make dinner, even though it requires preparation, including an oven to heat and a baking time longer than 20 minutes? An impossible feat that I would have realized if I had read and noted the time needed for each stage. Why do I do this so often? Because that’s how long I want it to take. It can almost be comical to see how often we do this. Once I started recognizing this, it decreased and then eliminated the frustration I used to feel of messed up again, acknowledging that there is a disconnect between the time required. And the time or capacity available makes life so much easier. There are things we can do to build our time awareness and spend less time in the “surprise” that took way longer or “surprise” we don’t have enough time zone.  

Moira Maybin  12:09 The simplest way to build time awareness is to make it as easy as possible to know the time. I rely on the clock in literally every room of my house. Even the garage, shed, and backyard, we put them in our line of sight. So it’s easy to glance over. I also wear a watch that has my calendar and schedule on it. I make use of reminders, alarms, all that stuff. Unfortunately, I am startled easily, and I’m irritated by sounds, lights and alarms. To deal with that I’ve taken the time to find or choose clocks or watches with tone sounds and even ticks that work for me. In some spaces, I like the tick of a clock, and others it’s a no go. The same goes for the type and colour of time display. I am particular.  

Some people swear by putting their clocks ahead. I don’t. Most of the time, I prefer using alarms or reminders for what’s coming up next. We have many alarms at our disposal. On devices, digital schedules, smart speakers watches, even an actual alarm clock. On the phone, we can personalize the name of the alarm to be a message like, “stop now brush teeth and go to bed.” Or have your smart speaker announced every morning 10 minutes until the car needs to leave time to pack your bag and go. These things help for a while. And then I will hit snooze on them repeatedly or decide to delete them. That’s the nature of our being. When things start working, or no longer appeal, it helps to have various options. I’ve started using notifications from my calendar more than from my alarm app for reminders I needed to change. It comes up differently. When things stopped working, it doesn’t mean it’s a failure or something is wrong with us. It’s either time to put something we use before back into the rotation or experiment with something new. 

Moira Maybin  14:03 So we’ve accepted that we’re not ‘natural timekeepers’ and we’ll need to try some things to reduce our surprises. Reminders and alarms are great in theory. But how do we know what and when to use them? This comes from having a clearer picture of what we do in the 24 hours of a day and how long it takes to do the things we regularly do. There’s a lot to those two pieces. So, we will get into those in the next episode.  

In the last episode, we talked about how to notice our thinking about time. Today, we focused on accepting the struggles we have with managing time. And that can be challenging for an ADHD brain. When we start to try out tools or strategies, it can leave us even more uncertain. But here’s the thing when we understand our ADHD brain and our everyday experiences, this makes sense. If you want some certainty, know this, things take longer than expected when we have ADHD. We need to give ourselves self-compassion, the time, grace and space to consider these ideas, along with what is working and what isn’t.  

I always want to accomplish more and faster in these episodes. And I always have to practice acceptance that it won’t happen that way. It takes time, and I have to actively manage my time, or else time blindness takes over; I can say for sure there will be at least one more episode in this series on strategies and support to practice time management. 

Moira Maybin  15:48  Okay, you’ve done the hard work by staying to the end; your reward?  Here are the main takeaways from today’s episode:  

1. Some of the challenges with time awareness include accepting that we struggle with time and being surprised at : 

  • how much time has gone by,  
  • the same problems with time happened repeatedly and  
  • how long something is taking.  

2. We can improve our time awareness: 

  •  with stimulant medication  
  • by making it as easy as possible to know the time with clocks, watches and timers. 

And this last one we can take to the bank.  

3. Know and plan on things taking longer than expected.  

Moira Maybin  16:34 Thank you for joining me today. If you liked this episode, tune in again. And if you know someone who will be inspired or encouraged by listening to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle, please share this. You can find the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle on your favourite podcast player. So go ahead and take a moment to subscribe right now. To make sure you’ll never miss an episode. Follow the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle on Facebook and Instagram for light-hearted expressions of life with ADHD, alongside ideas and resources. To support me or the podcast check out Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/adhdfriendlylifestyle for exclusive content, early access to episodes and a one hour live question and answer Ask Me Anything each month for every Patreon supporter. At the 25 and $50 levels you’ll be invited to monthly group coaching sessions and more. Looking for other great ADHD podcasts to have on your playlist?  ADHD Essentials, hosted by Brendon Mahan and Hacking your ADHD with Will Curb. Brendan covers many topics related to parenting and family life with ADHD. Will focuses on tools, tips and insight that always inspire. Happy listening! I’ll be back again with you on the next one. 

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THANKS FOR LISTENING!

Picture of Moira Maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)

Moira Maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)

I help people with ADHD who are tired of trying harder and are ready to give up the struggle. This is the place for the late-diagnosed, women, moms, professionals, those who want to understand ADHD, be heard, and know they are not alone. An ADHD Friendly Lifestyle builds our ability to take care of ourselves and use our unique strengths and talents to create a life that works for us.

Picture of Moira Maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)
Moira Maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)

I help people with ADHD who are tired of trying harder and are ready to give up the struggle. This is the place for the late-diagnosed, women, moms, professionals, those who want to understand ADHD, be heard, and know they are not alone. An ADHD Friendly Lifestyle builds our ability to take care of ourselves and use our unique strengths and talents to create a life that works for us.

I help people with ADHD who are tired of trying harder and are ready to give up the struggle. This is the place for the late-diagnosed, women, moms, professionals, those who want to understand ADHD, be heard, and know they are not alone. An ADHD Friendly Lifestyle builds our ability to take care of ourselves and use our unique strengths and talents to create a life that works for us.

Moira maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)