Mastering Time: 12 Tips to help you get places on time with ADHD

Living with ADHD often means navigating a world that operates on a different time wavelength.

For those with ADHD, punctuality can feel like an elusive goal, as time blindness and executive dysfunction frequently disrupt our best-laid plans and I talk about this here.

However, with the right strategies and tools, arriving on time is more often achieved. In this article, we’ll explore 12 practical tips and techniques specifically designed to help those with ADHD manage their time more effectively and reduce the stress associated with getting places on time.

Don’t forget, every person with ADHD is unique and what works for one won’t work for another.  Do what works for you and don’t feel discouraged if you try a strategy, and it doesn’t work for you.   Find a strategy that works for you most often.   We can only do our best!


Timers & Alarms


Use Timers and Alarms to signal when you need to leave but also as reminders for when you need to start getting ready. For instance, set an alarm for 30 minutes before you need to leave, another one at 15 minutes, and a final one at 5 minutes.


Visual Reminders


Place sticky notes or visual reminders in strategic locations (e.g., near your bathroom mirror, on your door) with messages like “Leave for yoga!” Visual cues can help reinforce the sense of urgency and keep you on track.


Time Tracking Apps


Consider using time management apps designed for ADHD, such as Time Timer, Be Focused, or Forest. These apps can help you visualize time and stay on schedule.


Plan Ahead


Prepare for activities the night before. Lay out your clothes, pack your bag, and make sure everything you need is ready to go. This reduces the number of decisions you need to make in the morning and helps prevent last-minute delays.


Create a Buffer


Build extra time into your schedule – remember traffic, parking and walking to the venue as well as driving to the venue! If you need to be somewhere by 10:00am, aim to arrive by 9:45am. This buffer helps account for unexpected delays and reduces stress.  Have to say I can’t ever imagine arriving 15 minutes early but … if it works for you do it!


Simplify Your Routine


Streamline your getting-ready process. Identify any steps that can be simplified or eliminated. For example, if you often get side-tracked checking your phone in the morning, try to avoid this until you’re ready to leave.


Accountability Partner


Enlist the help of a friend or family member who can remind you of your commitments and help keep you on track. Having someone else aware of your schedule can provide an extra layer of accountability.


Time Yourself


Take note of how long common tasks actually take versus how long you think they take. Use a stopwatch to track activities like showering, dressing, and commuting. This can help you develop a more accurate sense of time and better plan your schedule.  It can be a real eye-opener to realise how long each task takes!


Break Tasks into Smaller Steps


Break down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Instead of thinking, “I need to get ready for yoga,” break it down into steps: “First, I’ll change into my yoga clothes,” then “I’ll pack my bag,” and so on. This makes the process less overwhelming and more structured.


Reward Yourself


Create a reward system for arriving on time. Positive reinforcement can be a powerful motivator. Treat yourself to something enjoyable when you successfully arrive on time for several days in a row.  Even keeping a paper habit tracker can be a good motivator to keep up a winning streak!  But watch your negative self-talk.  If you’re late, reflect on if there was something you could have done differently, but don’t let it ruin your day.


Mindfulness and Meditation


Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help improve focus and awareness, which may make it easier to manage time. Even a few minutes of mindfulness practice each day can make a difference (if you can into the yoga class of course!)


Professional Support


Consider working with an ADHD coach or therapist who specializes in ADHD. They can provide personalized strategies and support to help you manage your time more effectively and ensure your self-esteem and confidence isn’t damaged by your time management struggles.

Have compassion for yourself

Mastering time management with ADHD is a journey that requires patience, persistence, and the right strategies. By incorporating strategies into your daily routine, you can significantly improve your punctuality.

But remember, it’s not about perfection but progress. Each small step forward is a victory that brings you closer to managing your time more effectively. Embrace these strategies, seek support when needed, and celebrate your successes.

With determination and the right approach, you can conquer some of the challenges of time blindness and lead a more organized, less stressful life, but you won’t always manage to.  Sometimes you’ll be late and sometimes the strategies just won’t work.

Your self-esteem and mental health are paramount.  While you can work towards better time management, ensure you always accept yourself for who you are, and if you really struggle in this area, have compassion and love for yourself whatever happens.


The author, Vivian Dunstan, is Founder & CEO of ADHD Support Australia, ADDCA trained ADHD Coach, Parent Coach & Facilitator of Parenting Children with ADHD – a 6-week online course, Certified Tech Addiction & Digital Health Educator (NIDHW) and Facilitator of the 12-week online Digital Parenting Program, Certified PEERS Social Skills for Teens & Young Adults coach and program facilitator, non-practicing teacher, parent of a young adult with ADHD and has ADHD herself.