I’ve blogged before that when my children were diagnosed with ADHD, I realized that on the checklist of ADHD symptoms in women I check a lot of boxes. I am not diagnosed, but have found a lot of tips for ADHD are helpful. So, today I’m sharing something small that I have found very helpful for myself: the timer in my phone.
I don’t have a fancy app for this, just the basic timer feature that came pre-installed works fine for me. However, I have heard that there are some really interesting apps out there for those with ADHD that help you manage your time. But step one involves knowing what to put into the app, and these days, I’m not keeping enough schedule in my life to need much more than the basic features.
Making It Work For Me
So, how am I using the timer? As a person with ADHD, you can find that you feel you have dead time in your day while you are waiting on an event. Let’s say it is 8:30 AM and you have to leave the house at 9 AM. You are already ready to go. That extra half hour can actually be a huge stressor. Why? Because you know that if you try to use that time to get something else done, you will lose track of time, not actually leave the house at 9, and be late for your appointment. The other choice is to leave a half hour early, and then deal with extra waiting time when you arrive where you are going. While that might be fine sometimes, not every waiting room is a good use of your time.
Instead of choosing between being early or late, I now set a timer to go off a few minutes before I need to do a task like leave the house. Why not right on time? Because inevitably, I will realize when the timer goes off that I still need to put on my shoes or find my purse or some other small task that takes a few minutes. Or I might need a minute to wrap up what I was working on.
Getting My Time Back
This means that at 8:30 AM when I am ready to go, I set the timer for 25 minutes and pick a task to work on for those 25 minutes. The task could be writing a blog post, loading the dishwasher, or even reading a book. Reading a book is dangerous for those of us who get sucked into them. This means the timer is essential to not being late if I am going to start a task that is hard to stop, like reading. I lose all sense of time both when reading and writing, but the timer doesn’t. It keeps me on track.
I have found this method is helping me get a lot more done. Using that time that I would have lost in “waiting mode” as some ADHD people call it, is a relief. Tasks I was falling behind on, are more likely to get done as I set the timer and can even glance back at it to check how much time I have remaining before I need to leave the house.
Timers, Timers for Everything
I also use this method to get more done before Zoom calls. Just like an out-of-the-house appointment, I can feel like I should just wait for the meeting to start, even though I have 20 minutes or more before it happens. Instead of hanging out online, doom scrolling, I can now use that time on other tasks.
For some tasks, you may find an alarm is better than a timer. If you know you need to start dinner at 5 PM, set an alarm to go off at 4:55 PM, reminding you to stop and get dinner in the oven. This may even be a daily task you need an alarm to remind you of every day if you tend to forget.
This tiny thing has gained me several hours each week. Give it a try and let me know if it works for you!
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.