As an ADHD Coach, many of my adult clients with attention deficit disorder struggle with chronic lateness. Difficulty getting to places on time seems to be a common result of distractibility, impulsivity, and other symptoms of ADHD.
Here is a true story: A woman took the bus to work but missed it at least twice a week, making her about 10 minutes late each time. She missed her bus because of a multitude of distractions and a confused sense of how long it took her to get ready in the morning. She often arrived flustered and apologetic, feeling terrible about herself and constantly worried she was going to lose her job.
She decided she had to get this under control so she tried a system of setting multiple alarms to help her stay on track in the morning. The first time she tried this, she was ready to go with her coat and shoes on 10 minutes early! She wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself for those 10 minutes and didn’t want to get to the bus stop early. She hated to waste time, so she decided to feed her rabbit. As she was pouring out his food, some of it spilled on the floor and, since she had some extra minutes, she decided to vacuum it up. Then she noticed dirty areas in her hallway so she plugged the vacuum cleaner in that area of the house and went to work. She thought about her mother coming over for dinner that weekend and how she was getting a head start on cleaning. Oh no!
Reality hit with a bang and she ran out the door only to miss the bus again. She realized that she hated being early for anything because she equated it with wasting time. So she worked on ways to make getting to the bus stop early feel more desirable. The bus stop was a sheltered bench so she could read her emails or the news on her phone. She always wanted to be calmer and meditate, so she could use that time to focus on her breathing or listen to the birds if it felt right. But the most important thing was to get out of the house on time so she could feel better about herself and let go of worrying about losing her job.
She went from missing the bus every few days to once every few weeks. And she is still improving. ADHD coaching helped her:
Figure out what she could do the night before to help her get ready faster in the morning, such as make her lunch and lay out her clothes.
Create a “to go” place in her home where she kept things she needed to grab in the morning but sometimes couldn’t find.
Develop a more accurate sense of how long it took to take a shower, get dressed, put on her make-up, etc.
Come up with a step by step plan for getting ready.
Develop more awareness about behaviors or thoughts that could sabotage her plan to get out the door on time.
Set an external reminder system such as multiple loud alarms on her phone to keep her moving and on-track. And a final reminder of when she had to get out the door.
Document the positive things that happened because of getting to work on time. Not only did her confidence grow, but her supervisor complimented her.
If you find yourself chronically late or coping with other challenges created by ADHD, please contact me for a free consultation. I look forward to hearing from you.