Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Slay ADHD Tardiness with These 5 Tips

I have to admit. I haven’t been the most punctual of guys. I’ve tried, but I failed a lot. Last Tuesday, I had an appointment to meet a counselor at my daughter’s school. I left on time. I maneuvered through traffic like I was in the Indy 500 (without breaking the law!). I arrived early! Two minutes early! Then I reminded myself to put up the sunshade before getting out. I’ve written before about the effect sun-heated cars have on my noodle. So up went the sunshade. Is this the right way? No, it’s upside down. Wait, I should really put up the side window shades, too. There. Looks great! No overheating for me!
By the time I walked through the door, however, I was two minutes late.
Dang, foiled by ADHD again!
Some of you might be thinking that two minutes is hardly LATE. It’s certainly not the latest I’ve ever been. With my Tourette’s and my super awesome ADHD organization, I’ve been known to push a courtesy fifteen minute grace period into the sixteenth minute and beyond. I’ve broken time and space many a time to race across town just to arrive a hair too late, then be told I’d have to reschedule. It was a way of life. Did This year I’ve been renewing my efforts to be punctual, and lately I’ve been making strides. In fact, I was very early to my appointment the other day. I was one month early. I told a friend online that if somebody were to bet that I’d be late for the true appointment next month, I wouldn’t take that bet because I’d probably lose.
Sometimes being late is a matter of trying to fit four into three when there simply isn’t time for it. Sometimes I’m avoiding boredom by doing as much as I can before the appointed time. Sometimes I get distracted at the last minute. Most of the time, however, it’s just poor planning. Here’s how I’m getting around that these days:
  1. Decide to be on time – I can’t emphasize enough how important this step is. Determination alone cannot prevent ADHD glitches, but it can go a great distance in helping us overcome bad habits. I was a month early because I marked a July appointment for June. Hello, ADHD. But I was “on time” for my supposed appointment because I was determined to change my behavior. Let’s hope I can do that again in July. 🤞🏼
  2. Plan to be 10 minutes early – You’ve heard the tips: Schedule your appointments ten minutes early. Set your clocks forward 10 minutes. The trouble with those tips was that I’d calculate realtime on the fly and be late anyway. My twist on this trick—which was alien to me for so many years—is to want to be 10 minutes early. I’ve turned it into a game. This is how I enforce Tip #1. The reason I was two minutes late for the appointment at my daughter’s school was because I didn’t plan on being ten minutes early, and therefore, I wasn’t. Ten minutes may not be enough, so eventually I’ll push this back to allow for ADHD and traffic congestion.
  3. Verify the appointment – I never remember this step, but I always wish that I did. Many places will send out a reminder call before your appointment. If you haven’t received that reminder call, maybe there’s something wrong with your appointment’s entry on your calendar (app or otherwise). Entering something wrong is an ADHD hazard (Don’t you just love the “careless” mistake?), but sometimes appointments get canceled or changed. If you didn’t hear the call, or it’s sitting in your unlistened-to voice mail, it’s wise to check before you head over. I didn’t get a call for today’s appointment, but I was so hyped up to be on time, I headed over anyway. That was more than a little embarrassing.
  4. Set multiple alarms – I use a mobile app called Fantastical that let’s me set any number of default alarms for every appointment, as opposed to Apple’s default limit of two, to work in tandem with Apple’s Mobile Calendar strengths. I’ve decided I need three alarms for every event. When I schedule a 1pm appointment, I am automatically reminded 30 minutes before the event, one hour before the event, and one day before the event. If I need more alarms, I happily tack them on, but I am leery of alarm fatigue, so I try to keep things reasonable. That 30 minutes alarm cuts things fairly close. It’s intended to wake me up if I’m deep in a distraction. Apple’s Calendar app can calculate travel time, so be sure to add location data for appointments to get those extra reminders on the Notifications screen. Android users can find apps that add similar features like Google Calendar and Tiny Calendar.
  5. Bring plenty to do – One thought process that prevents me from being punctual is ADHD fear of boredom. All that time waiting! What will I do? Make your own Boredom Survival Kit™.
It may seem overly simple, but punctuality starts with the desire to be punctual. Then you build from there. You’ve got this.

If you like punctuality, you should download my book. It will arrive exactly when you expect it.