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ADHD and Time Blindness with Dr. Ari Tuckman

Today kicks off our three-part series on ADHD and Time Blindness, bringing Dr. Ari Tuckman – one of the leading voices on the topic – into the conversation.

In today’s episode, you’ll learn what time blindness is, the impact it can have on not only the self-esteem of a person with ADHD but their relationships, health and careers, plus a look at how neurotypicals view time blindness and the damage that criticism can have when an ADHDer lets their actions and emotions get wrapped up in it. 

Learn more about Dr. Ari Tuckman and learn more about his work with the ADHD community through his website here

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Lindsay Guentzel (00:05):

Hello and welcome back to Refocused, a podcast all about ADHD. I’m your host, Lindsay Guentzel, and we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming. Refocused Together is officially over, and now we’re getting back to the basics, diving into the incredibly complex world of ADHD, breaking it down topic by topic, episode by episode, getting into the nitty gritty, if you will. Today’s episode, ADHD and Time Blindness with Dr. Ari Tuckman, kicks off the start of a three episode series on Time Blindness, which will follow up with a three episode series on cognitive behavior therapy and its use for people with ADHD. That will take us to the end of February, and then in March we’re going to be talking about masking. As always, you can connect with the show on Instagram at RefocusedPod and through email [email protected]. And if you haven’t had the opportunity to leave us a review, maybe this lovely one from Myota will finally be the encouragement you need to take a minute and leave us a little love.

(01:09):

“Lindsay is an amazing interviewer. Seriously, this is my favorite ADHD podcast because of her style, her voice is easy to listen to, and she’s so real and relatable. Her guests are so interesting. Aren’t all adults with ADHD though? But the chemistry between each person and Lindsay makes every episode enjoyable and informative. Thank you, and please stick around the podcast scene as long as you can. Clapping hands emoji, prayer hands emoji.”

(01:37):

Well, Myota, first off, you’re amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful review. Second, you’re right, every adult with ADHD is incredibly interesting. And third, we plan on sticking around as long as you’ll have us. Smiling face with hearts emoji, heart hands emoji, microphone emoji. If you feel similarly to my Myota, we would love it if you’d leave us a review. Right now is the perfect time to press pause, head over to our show page and share your thoughts. I promise we’ll still be here waiting for you when you get done.

(02:16):

We spent a good portion of last year talking all about ADHD quirks, those interesting little symptoms we’ve likely dealt with our entire lives and didn’t realize the connection maybe until after we are diagnosed or, and I feel this way all the time, until we’ve heard it explained in a way we can understand to see how it plays out in our own lives. Today’s quirk is one I’m guessing a lot of you can connect with because I know it’s a big one for this ADHD brain right here. Today we’re kicking off our conversation on time blindness, which is the difficulty to estimate or sense the passing of time. The concept was first introduced by ADHD researcher Russell Barkley in 1997 in a paper where he looked at how self-regulation and time perception plays out for people with ADHD. He’s also referred to time blindness as temporal myopia, temporal meaning time, and myopia meaning nearsightedness, which roughly translates to not being able to perceive time in the future.

(03:17):

So how does time blindness affect a person with ADHD? The human body uses a handful of resources to help sense time, just like it does to sense light or sound or taste. Our brain is constantly keeping tabs on what’s happening around us to figure out the time and when everything is working the way it’s supposed to, it can do a pretty good job of not only establishing an accurate sense of the time, but also interpreting how much time has passed, and even how much time is left before our next task. But for people with ADHD, time perception isn’t clear cut. There’s something going on that throws off the observations our body is making to try and figure out how much time we’ve spent doing something or we’ll spend doing something.

(04:04):

Dr. Ari Tuckman is a psychologist with over 25 years of experience in helping people with ADHD better understand time blindness. He has a private practice in Westchester, Pennsylvania, and is the author of four books including ADHD After Dark and More Attention, Less Deficit, which is also the name of his podcast. Ari is the former vice president of ADA, a member of the Attitude ADHD Medical Review Panel, as well as the co-chair for the chat conference committee. We’re so excited to have him on the podcast to share his expertise with us as we dive into understanding ADHD and time blindness. One of the reasons why I was so excited to find you and get you on the podcast is you work with patients every day, and I’m curious, before we dive into time blindness, I’m wondering how quickly it comes up in a conversation with your patients that you’re working with who have ADHD.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (05:06):

Often pretty quick. It’s one of those things that the person is certainly aware of it, but it has a big social impact. There are lots of things that we do that are more internal in the sense of, I might know what I’m doing, but you don’t necessarily know what I’m doing. But time blindness, it’s a pretty visible thing. If someone is chronically late or has just lost track of time or missing deadlines, that’s a very noticeable thing, and it’s not simply that people notice and observe it, they begin to have opinions and theories about it as well. So this is one of those ways that what’s really an internal neurological information processing disorder begins to have social implications, and from there begins to have psychological implications in terms of how you see yourself and how you relate to other people.

Lindsay Guentzel (05:59):

So it’s out there, how do you explain it and where does it show up? And I guess what’s the science behind it?

Dr. Ari Tuckman (06:07):

It’s one of those things that we all have this internal clock, right? It’s this sense of, “What time is it now? How long have I been doing this thing I’m doing? How long is it until I’m supposed to do that next thing I’m supposed to be doing?” And for some people, that internal clock ticks pretty loud and it’s pretty consistent. They have a pretty clear sense of, “Oh, look at that. I should probably get going now.” For folks with ADHD and for other people, for other reasons, that internal clock is just, it’s much softer, it’s much more variable and inconsistent, and it just, I don’t know, the analogy I use is it’s like trying to measure length with a warped ruler.

(06:48):

If your base unit is a bit variable and off, how do you judge time? So for a lot of folks with ADHD time, just feels really slippery. It’s very inconsistent and it’s easy to lose track of it, which creates a lot of crises of the moment, that like, “Oh my God,” sort of scramble when suddenly it clicks in. They look at the clock and they realize, “Oh no, it is so much later than I thought it was.”

Lindsay Guentzel (07:18):

Do we know anything about specifically where in the brain for a person who is neurodiverse, this, I don’t want to say issue with time, but this gray area confusion comes up?

Dr. Ari Tuckman (07:30):

I’m sure there are people who… There’re neuroscientists, I’m sure, who know the answer to that. I’m not one of those people, so I’ll just take it on faith that there’s something going on there and it’s definitely in the brain. So it’s like every human ability occurs on a bell curve in the sense that most people are average at it, some people are super awesome and some people are super terrible, and generally you fall between the extremes somewhere. So just generally, this is a key part of ADHD, right? It’s not a difference in kind, it’s a difference in degree that folks with ADHD just in general, they really struggle a lot more with time in terms of feeling time, noticing time, and also we can talk about this later, feeling the future, which is related but a bit of a different topic.

Lindsay Guentzel (08:17):

One thing that I have found in helping me overcome some of the things I’ve noticed with my ADHD that are a detriment to life and my understanding of time, and the passing of time is definitely one of those, one of the things I found that is helpful is a great support system. And so I’m curious, when you’re working with patients who bring in a support system and maybe those people don’t have ADHD, do you explain time blindness in a different way for someone who hasn’t experienced it?

Dr. Ari Tuckman (08:45):

I mean, absolutely. A big value in getting a diagnosis of ADHD, whether it’s for yourself as an adult or for your spouse or your kid or whoever, is it helps you understand things in a different way. Now, it doesn’t change one lick of what is in your past, is no different once you have this diagnosis. But what is different is how you understand it. So the hope then is that it helps people take stuff less personally, and that could be the person with ADHD, but it could also be these other people in their life. So to recognize, “Okay, they’re not just selfish, they’re just really bad at tracking time. They don’t do that just to piss me off. They don’t do that because they don’t really care about the fact that I’m freaking out that we’re late. It’s that they’re terrible at time. And by the way, they shoot themselves in the foot at least as often as they shoot me in the foot. So I’m not saying I got to love this, but at least I need to recognize being judgy and guilting and mad isn’t helping it.”

(09:54):

I’m not saying they don’t have reasons to be mad, but let’s use some better strategies that are more likely to actually get the job done.

Lindsay Guentzel (10:04):

For all the years that you’ve been doing this, I’m wondering if you can paint a picture for the impact time blindness can have on the life of a person with ADHD.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (10:15):

It’s like that death by a thousand cuts. It’s not that one major crisis moment. It’s not like some massive trauma of being assaulted or getting into a car accident or whatever. It’s just that slow wearing away that million and one times, and it’s not just the ones that are witnessed by others, so to speak, where it’s, “Here we go again, everyone sees I’m late coming to work.” But it’s all those times that even when you do get to work on time, let’s say there’s this sense of, “God, man, if they only knew. Sure, it’s 8:59 and I’m walking in, or 9:01, but man, if they knew what the last 20 minutes looked like.”

(11:01):

Or things like, I mean, if you’re showing up late to work, are you paying for the expensive parking and not parking on the street where it’s free, that kind of ADHD tax as they say? Or, you don’t have time to make lunch so you wind up buying lunch, which let’s be honest, is more delicious than what you would’ve made at home, but definitely more expensive and almost definitely less healthy. So it’s these related fallout of not managing time well.

Lindsay Guentzel (11:35):

I laughed at the parking on the street or parking closer to the office because you’re running late and it’s more expensive. And I’m wondering how all of those things then affect a person with ADHD’s because it starts to pile on and snowball, and it’s again, all of the things that we’re supposed to be doing, but we just can’t figure out how to get out of our own way, or at least that’s the story we’re telling ourselves.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (12:03):

That’s the thing of it is it’s not like people with ADHD or sociopaths who don’t care. It’s not like they’re clueless idiots who don’t understand how the world works. So you know it. As Barclay’s famous quote goes, ADHD is not a disorder of knowing what to do. It’s a disorder of doing what you know.” Duh, get places on time. Duh, don’t wait for the last minute to, I don’t know, order airfare or something. But knowing it and doing it are two very different things. And I’ve got to add on to Barclay’s famous quote, which is that in fact, people with ADHD know far better what to do because they’ve been told far more often what they should do.

(12:47):

And I’m not just talking about kids, I’m talking about adults. You get a lot more feedback from your partner, maybe from your boss and coworkers, from your friends. So how many million times can you be told something and have it not affect you in the sense of maybe I’m not as smart as some people say I am, or maybe I’m not actually as good of a friend as I would like to think I am, or maybe I do have weird self-destructive tendencies or I don’t know, whatever explanations you come up with. Again, this is all the psychology then that comes out of it. These million experiences over the course of your life. How does it not affect you?

Lindsay Guentzel (13:27):

You mentioned that 20 minutes of getting out the door and the chaos that can bring, and you’ve added in a little bit about how it can affect relationships. I’m wondering if we know anything about how time blindness can affect a person’s health because those 20 minutes, once a weekend, getting your family out the door, getting yourself out the door for work, that’s stress. And we know what stress does to the body. What do we know about how time blindness affects a person’s health?

Dr. Ari Tuckman (13:56):

What we know about, and this is scary research, but what we know is ADHD has a significant negative effect on many parts of life, but one of them is health maintenance and even lifespan, seriously lifespan. Literally the number of years that you will live. And the reason is a healthy lifestyle basically requires being pretty consistent about a bunch of boring things that generally have vague and far off consequences, which is, let’s be honest, not a setup for ADHD success. I mean, not a setup for success for anybody, but a lot of stuff about living a healthy lifestyle requires doing the harder thing in this moment and not doing the easier thing. So stuff like eat more vegetables. I mean, I eat a lot of vegetables, but let’s be honest, this bacon, egg and cheese bagel I had for breakfast this morning was much more delicious than any other vegetable.

(14:59):

So fortunately I don’t eat them all the time, but eating healthier, getting to the gym, remembering, “Oh wait, I have to schedule a mammogram.” Getting to the doctor’s office for refills. Let’s not even talk about if you have something like diabetes where you really need to be careful about what you’re eating and monitoring and measuring, there’s a lot of important yet quiet and boring details to be paying attention to when it comes to managing your health well. And when you’re always scrambling, that’s the first stuff that goes, not to mention stuff like sleep and getting to the gym and all the rest of it. So it is serious stuff. It really does have an impact on things that really, really matter and not simply like an annoying personality quirk.

Lindsay Guentzel (15:47):

I’m wondering what you’ve seen as far as how time blindness can affect a person’s career and the opportunities that come. A big thing for me after I was diagnosed is I can look back at life and see lots of little areas where I’m like, “Oh, that was undiagnosed ADHD.” But a big part of it for me is the time blindness and really not being able to look past what I was focusing on in that moment, which is why a career in journalism worked so well for me is because my deadlines were always the same day.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (16:20):

Yeah, exactly. And not at all negotiable.

Lindsay Guentzel (16:23):

Yes. Right.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (16:25):

Yeah. So they’re like little havens of hyper focus, but it does, because I mean, when it comes to opportunity, obviously part of it is do you have the skills. Can you do the things required for this job or project or whatever? But there’s also those soft skills as they say, that personality stuff. Some of that involves the ability to get stuff done in a way that other people can count on. And if you are sliding deadlines, if you’re getting stuff done at the last minute, I mean, depending on what you do, that might be fine if nobody’s the wiser, but if you’re working with other people, it can be stressful for them and it makes it harder to collaborate. And it becomes one of those things where we’re like, “Yeah, I mean, she’s good, but I don’t know, man. There’s always this thing at the last minute, so let’s go with this other person. They’re not as good, but at least we know we’re going to get it.” And it may not ever be stated that that’s the reason. It’s just this thing of like, “Ah, I thought I would get that.”

Lindsay Guentzel (17:32):

I want to talk family life for just a second and focus in on this traditional nuclear family, which would have the mother, whether she’s working or not, predominantly taking on a lot of the family housework. How does time blindness affect that? And then how does it trickle down into other members of the family?

Dr. Ari Tuckman (17:51):

Even in 2023, we’re a whole lot better than we used to be, and yet still, let’s all be honest, in a heterosexual couple, it’s still the wife who does much more of the, I don’t know, the caretaking and coordinating, who’s making appointments for the kids’ dentist, who’s figuring out summer camps, who’s, I don’t know, realizing like, “Oh, wait a second, we don’t have any more paper towels,” or whatever. So it’s not just doing the things, but there’s also some of it is, it’s that mentally tracking of all those things, which is more of a mental burden or it’s called the emotional labor of the family, which was coined by a sociologist named Arlie Hochschild, who just coincidentally is the mom of this super cool guy, Dave Hochschild, who lived upstairs from me sophomore year. But it’s still true. I mean, she coined that phrase long ago, but it’s still true.

(18:49):

So it becomes this thing then that if it’s the guy in this straight couple that has ADHD, probably, group averages, individual results differ, probably he’s doing less of what he should be doing, even compared to a non-ADHD guy, he’s doing even less than that. So the probably non-ADHD woman is taking on even more of it. So however tired she would’ve been otherwise, she’s even more tired, she’s even more frustrated, she’s even more resentful. He feels even more like, “It doesn’t matter what I do, you’re always pissed at me anyway, and if I do it the way I would do it, it’s not good enough for you.” So again, why bother, right? And then that’s an awful place to end up, but it’s easy to see how you get there.

(19:36):

Now, by contrast, if it’s a woman in this couple with ADHD and the guy doesn’t have ADHD, I don’t know, maybe the guy steps up on it. But again, let’s all be really honest, not that much. So that woman with ADHD is killing herself to stay on top of it, is probably falling short, and probably feels really guilty and awful because of course, as a mother, you’re supposed to be perfect and all sacrificing. So God forbid any of the other moms find out what a terrible job you’re doing. So it can really lead to this sense of isolation that you can’t be honest with some of your friends because you feel so guilty about it. And the guys are not that awesome at stepping up. I mean, hopefully they do in some ways, but again, they’re not making up the difference the way the female partner is when the guy has ADHD.

Lindsay Guentzel (20:32):

Something I’ve been thinking about is the perception of time is different for every person, but time itself is definable. It’s finite. There’s only so much of it. And when we know that’s the case, it seems that for people with ADHD, for us, it’s a little gray area. How does that play a role in some of the negative stereotypes out there for people with ADHD? Because I envision somebody who would be neurotypical, who can’t fathom how ADHD is a real thing. And then you say to them, “Well, yeah, people with ADHD have this hard time understanding time, and there’s all of these issues with it.” And in their mind, they’re like, “No, time is concrete.”

Dr. Ari Tuckman (21:13):

I mean, time is concrete, but our perception of time isn’t necessarily concrete. I have a friend of mine who’s colorblind, so I mean, obviously that has its implications, but I don’t think anyone’s going to challenge him and say like, “Dude, seriously, this is red and that’s green, you know that, right?” So there are some things that we’re more willing to accept like, “Oh, yeah, well, okay, that is what it is.” But then there’s other stuff, and I think it’s stuff that feels more mental and stuff that feels, if it’s effortless for you, it seems like it should be effortless for others. I don’t know. What do you mean? You just know when it’s time to go, right? I mean, you just look at the clock or something. I don’t know. You just do it. But that’s a very, it’s lacks perspective. It lacks empathy and a recognition that the way I approach tasks and the way I see the world isn’t necessarily how anybody else does.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:14):

One thing I always pay attention to and I walk into a person’s house is whose handwriting is on the family calendar. And predominantly, it’s very nice handwriting, and I’m going with stereotypes that it typically is the woman.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (22:27):

Right. I was going to say, is it ever… I’ll give you $20 when you see some dude’s handwriting on there.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:33):

I did Nanny for a stay-at-home dad back in college.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (22:37):

Nice.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:38):

And you two actually would have lots to talk about because he is in the exact same mindset as you of like, men have got to change the narrative moving forward. I want to ask, so we’ve talked about all of these negative ways that time blindness can affect a person with ADHD in their life, but there are some positives to it, and one that comes to mind is being able to hyperfocus on a task when you can go into time blindness. And the thing that comes to mind is painting. Painting takes so much time and no one really ever wants to do it, but if you can get into that moment and you have the whole day to actually do it, it can be something that benefits a person.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (23:19):

I mean, it’s definitely true. That hyper focus can be incredibly productive. Now, hopefully you got nothing else on the other side of this task, but when it works, it works really well. I also think that the other side of it is, I mean, a lot of my friends with ADHD, they’re a lot of fun. It’s this thing of… I mean, okay, fine, we all have boring adult responsible things that we’re supposed to do, but seriously, it can’t only be responsible things. We’re supposed to have some fun around here, aren’t we? So it can sometimes be this thing that the partner with ADHD is the one who carries the fun or at least campaigns for it. And I think that’s part of the attraction for the non-ADHD partner, recognizing there is a balance here that I think I need, even though also sometimes I don’t want to let it go, but as we all see compliments in our partners.

(24:13):

So I think that that can be a part of it, too, whether it’s just a thing of, “Look, it’s a nice day. The dirty dishes will still be here. Let’s go out and do something with the kids.” Or, “Let’s you and me go out to dinner.” Or, “Let’s fool around,” or whatever. That enjoying the moment and not always being about working towards a better future.

Lindsay Guentzel (24:33):

And that plays into impulsivity. And not every person with ADHD has impulsivity, and I would say lots of people who have impulsivity, it’s varying degrees. There are some people who, my father being one of them, very high on the scale of impulsivity. Me, I ebb and flow between low and high and typically land right there around the middle. And I’m curious how that affects a person with time blindness.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (25:00):

Yeah, I mean, I think impulsivity is all about being lost in the moment. It’s like, “Oh, this is an awesome idea.” And you know what? Probably parts of it are an awesome idea, but it’s not pausing to think about, “Yeah, I wonder what else? What’s the bigger picture on this? What else might be going on? How else might I feel about this later?” So there is definitely that relationship between time blindness and impulsivity. And I’ll sometimes say that if someone with ADHD does something in the spur of the moment and it works out well, then we just say that they’re spontaneous. When they do something that’s spur of the moment, it doesn’t work out well, then we say it’s impulsive. So it’s again, the result that defines whether it was a good idea or not. And of course, opinions may differ on that one.

Lindsay Guentzel (25:45):

How do our emotions play a role in time blindness? And this is the example I have for you. I go to a workout class, I’ve gotten into a routine. I really enjoy it. Every workout class we end with a one-minute plank. Now, I have found that the days that I’m in a good mood, that one minute flies by, and I have found on the days where I’m a little stressed, or maybe I’ve just had a bad day at work, or I’m tired and my emotions are all over the place, that one minute can feel like 16.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (26:20):

Yeah. Now, there’s definitely something to be said for this idea of willpower is a bit of a finite resource, or you could call it resilience. That might be another way of putting it. That’s like the gas in the tank, that mental fortitude to be able to say, “I can do this. This will be worth it. I can hang in there.” And that allows us to push aside those more negative, “I hate this. This sucks. Why are we doing that?” We can in a matrix or jujitsu kind of a way, just let those slide by and not get stuck on them. And the times where we have less of that mental resilience, those things stick. And it is harder to see beyond just this moment, whether it’s planks or traffic or-

Lindsay Guentzel (27:05):

Missing the yellow light. I will say that’s probably a big one.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (27:09):

Right, exactly. You’re like, “Oh God, I was three seconds away and it would’ve saved me an entire minute and a half.”

Lindsay Guentzel (27:16):

And then you spend more time thinking about it than you did actually waiting at the light.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (27:22):

Sure. Yeah. And of course, it’s again, with that running late. If you’re on time minute, you miss your light, you’re like, “Yeah, whatever.” But when you’re late, you’re like, “Oh, come on. I need every millisecond I can get. You’re killing me here.” And when you’re just glaring at the light, boy does time trickle. Those are mostly when you sing along with a song and check the New York Times app or whatever, you’re like, “Oh, crap, I wanted to finish that article. Is it light green already?”

Lindsay Guentzel (27:49):

How impactful can time blindness be on a person’s executive function?

Dr. Ari Tuckman (27:54):

Executive functions and time are really closely intertwined, and you can almost think of it as the executive functions are all about the future. They’re not about how do I maximize this moment? They’re about how do I organize my thoughts and feelings and behavior for something better later? If you think about most of the things that are good to do or important to do, they’re really oriented towards future benefits, whether it’s boring things like flossing your teeth or doing homework or eating vegetables or doing a plank for a minute, or not telling your spouse really, really what you’re feeling at that moment. It’s about doing something that’s better for the future. So I saw this, this was from Russ Ramsey, but he got it from someone else, but something like the executive functions… I should have written this down. The executive functions help us do what is good to do that we probably don’t want to do or something. I messed it up, but that was the gist of it.

Lindsay Guentzel (28:58):

And in that regard, I have to imagine that success plays a role in us continuing to do those things. So looking at the future is great. You use the example flossing your teeth. We don’t get a report card. We don’t get something that comes in the mail that says, “This is how beneficial flossing your teeth has been for this many years.” And so there is that side of it. We need to be reminded of our success and how it’s impacting us.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (29:30):

Yeah. So you’re saying you need to make an app to gamify flossing, is that what you’re saying here?

Lindsay Guentzel (29:34):

I actually think there is one. No joke.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (29:37):

Worst app ever.

Lindsay Guentzel (29:39):

Yes, yes.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (29:41):

Yeah, your dentist totally recommends it. Your kids are going to think it’s awesome.

Lindsay Guentzel (29:45):

Yes.

Dr. Ari Tuckman (29:45):

Yeah, it’s going to be great. They’re going to use it for 30 seconds. But yeah, I mean, that’s exactly right, because stuff like flossing, it’s one of those things that it’s like this is a good thing to do because perhaps at some indeterminate point in the future, a long time from now, maybe I’ll have a better outcome where you’re like, at some dental appointment, maybe I won’t have a cavity, which is an awful sales pitch, as opposed to if you don’t do this right now, you’re going to burn your hand. You’re like, “All right, I’ll get the hotpot fine,” or the whatever things. Yeah. I mean, that’s why for everybody in general, those vague far off future consequences are not motivating, but they’re really, really not motivating for people with ADHD, and this comes into that feeling in the future that folks without ADHD generally, group averages, tend to be better at feeling the future before they get to the future.

(30:50):

So this is why if you don’t have ADHD and it’s Monday and you’ve got a big paper due on Friday, you’re thinking to yourself, “You know what? I’d rather not have a miserable Thursday again, and I think I’m going to start working on that thing. Don’t really want to, totally got better things to do, but I think I’m going to start chipping away at that.” Because they can feel Thursday, they feel that Friday deadline, and they know what’s going to happen. My contrast, my smartass slogan of ADHD time management is by the time you feel it, it’s too late. When you’re freaking out about, “Oh my God, that paper is due.” It’s too late. It’s Thursday night at 10:00 PM, or it’s too late to get out the door and actually get somewhere on time. Although if you drive a hundred miles an hour, maybe you’ll save a few seconds. So that’s the problem, and that’s part of that time blindness is that folks with ADHD, they don’t feel it in that, “Okay, here we go. We’re doing this,” until they’re a whole lot closer to the deadline.

(31:56):

So when it’s last minute on Thursday and you’re like, “Now I’m doing it.” I mean, they get it done. That’s the impressive part. But it comes at a price. Either the quality is less than it could be, or the misery is higher than it would need to be.

Lindsay Guentzel (32:11):

How do you measure success when it comes to the patients you’re working with and time blindness, or I guess a better question would be, how do you encourage your patients to view success when they look at how time blindness is affecting them, if they are actively working to try and ease some of that issue?

Dr. Ari Tuckman (32:31):

Back to my early clinical roots, I come back to the Serenity Prayer, change what you can, accept the rest. So yes, indeed, absolutely. Work hard at strategies, be intentional. Do the stuff you don’t want to do. Push yourself to set yourself up for success. So all this stuff that we’ve been talking about, so that legit, you are changing some things in your life, that some things are actually getting better. But there comes a point where it’s just like, “Look, this is as good as it’s going to get. Within the constraints of reality and other demands on my time and energy, this is as good as it’s going to get. I’m never going to be the person who’s early, but at least I’m not 45 minutes late. I’m like, four minutes late, I’ll take it.” So I think it’s that then, recognizing this is good, or I’m going to steal a line from Jessica McCabe.

(33:22):

This is me trying, this is me being intentional. This is me applying effort, and I feel good about the effort that I am putting in. So first, it’s an inside job, but in terms of relationships, whether it’s romantic partner adults or whether it’s parents and kids, or whatever, I think that it’s a much better sales pitch to your partner to say, “Look, I’m working hard at this, right? You can see all these ways I’m trying. I need you to meet me the rest of the way.” Or with friends to say, “Look, if you need a friend who’s early, I’m not that friend. I bring other awesome tricks to the party, but that’s not me. And if you can’t be okay with it, that’s not a problem with me. That’s a problem with us. This may not be a friendship that is going to work.” And I think that… I don’t know.

(34:16):

I’m going to come back to Russ Ramsey again. I find myself often talking about that guy because he’s got such good stuff. But at the last big ADHD conference, he talked about social capital, this idea of standing in relationships in that, if you are often struggling, if you feel like you’re often the one messing up, or at least if someone’s going to get blamed, it’s probably you, that becomes this thing where you can accept, frankly, bad friend behavior or a bad romantic partner behavior because you feel like you deserve it, right? You don’t feel like you can say, “Wait a second, why do you talk to me like that? I mean, sure, I was late, but seriously, is that okay? Are we doing this?” So that’s part of it, too, is getting to a point of feeling like you have the right to be asked to be treated well.

Lindsay Guentzel (35:13):

Right now, we’re going to practice feeling time. This feels like a good point to take a pause, take a break, and wrap things up next week, versus just plowing through the conversation and overloading everyone, myself included. So join us back here next week for part two of our look at ADHD and time blindness with Dr. Ari Tuckman, talking about the ways time blindness affects executive functioning, how the pandemic and technology changed how people relate to time. Spoiler alert. It’s all about distractions. Plus, more ways for you to feel more successful when it comes to managing time blindness issues in your own life. To find out more about Ari and the work he’s doing, you can head directly to his website, tuckmanpsych.com. That’s Tuckman, T-U-C-K-M-A-N, psych, P-S-Y-C-H.com. I also shared the links to all of his books in our show notes.

(36:09):

We’d love to hear how time blindness affects you. Maybe it’s a story we can all relate to, something lighthearted for a little laugh, or maybe it’s a deep from the heart, feels like someone is reading your diary admission on just how much damage time blindness has caused in your life. We have space for all of it here. You can email the show directly [email protected], and you can also reach out to us on social media @RefocusedPod and @LindseyGuentzel.

(36:40):

Refocused is produced, thanks to the support of ADHD online, visit adhdonline.com to get started on your mental health journey today, and remember to use the promo code Refocused20 at checkout to take $20 off your smart assessment. Thank you so much for listening to Refocused, a podcast all about ADHD. This episode was produced thanks to the support of Sarah Platanitis, Phil Roderman, and John Beortland, as well as our incredible sponsor, ADHD online. To learn more about the podcast, head to ADHDonline.com/refocused. You can also find us on social media @RefocusedPod and @Lindsay Genzel. Our show art was created by Sissy Yee of Berlin Grey, and our music was created by Louis Inglis, a singer-songwriter from Perth, Australia, who was diagnosed with ADHD in 2020 at the age of 39.

(37:36):

Make sure you’re subscribed to Refocused wherever you’re listening now, so you don’t miss out on a single episode. And while you’re at it, we would love it if you’d leave us a rating and a review. That’s the bread and butter of podcast life. Remember, we’ll be back here next week to continue our conversation with Dr. Ari Tuckman, talking all things ADHD and time blindness. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and in an effort to reduce the unbelievable amount of stress we all carry around with us unnecessarily, please be a little kinder to yourself this week.

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