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Understanding Time Blindness: Symptoms, Causes, Tips

Written by:

Wafaa Amjad Dar

Pharm-D
Reviewer:

Dr. Bradley Noon

MD

Content

Have you ever been too distracted by insignificant things when working on something? It is a common effect if you are bored with the task, stressed, or anxious. Once the cause of your negative feelings is eliminated, you get back to focusing well. However, this is not the case for people struggling with time blindness.

When we are engaged in exciting activities and intensely concentrated, we usually feel as though time is passing quickly. Such changes in time perception are more frequently observed in people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and severe manifestations are called time blindness. It makes timekeeping a daily challenge and feels like time is compressing or stretching.

Fortunately, various methods exist to help people with time blindness control it. But before exploring them, let’s learn more about the specifics, causes, and types of this issue.

Do you have symptoms of ADHD? Contact us to get assessed by a medical professional and receive personalized treatment.

What Is Time Blindness?

Time blindness is the struggle to recognize the passage of time. Sometimes, an hour seems to fly by for a time-blind person, while other times, it seems to last for an eternity. Some people may feel so overwhelmed and confused when dealing with time pressures that they have problems in their careers and relationships.

Individuals with time blindness may frequently underestimate or overestimate the duration of tasks, which makes them more likely to be late for appointments and miss deadlines. To sum up, it can both harm a person’s mental and emotional health and decrease the overall quality of life.

Symptoms

Time blindness can take different forms, so a person may:

  • Appear careless or incapable of managing time and require help with that.
  • Postpone tasks because of the inability to estimate time.
  • Miss deadlines because of losing track of time.
  • Get late because it takes them too long to get ready or to commute.
  • Find it challenging to determine when exactly something happened.
Common symptoms of times blindness

Causes

Time perception is largely regulated by the prefrontal cortex region and dopamine levels in the brain. Clinical research shows that ADHD, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are associated with decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex, leading to disruptions in dopamine levels and ultimately resulting in time distortion. ADHD stands out among these conditions due to its common challenges in grasping the concept of time, making time blindness a focal symptom.

Our healthcare professionals are here to help you understand your symptoms and ways to cope with them.

ADHD and Time-related Difficulties

Experimental and clinical research [1*] indicates the ADHD brain is wired differently. This condition may affect brain regions controlling executive function, which includes organizing, planning, problem-solving, working memory capacity, time management, and various other cognitive functions. The five types of time-related difficulties in ADHD are explained below.

Challenges With Time Perception

According to a research article [2*] published in the Medical Science Monitor, adult ADHD disrupts executive functioning, and as a result, people with ADHD tend to struggle to perceive time. They may underestimate the amount of time required for a task or overestimate their ability to complete it within a given timeframe. Time perception difficulties are more frequently observed in inattentive ADHD compared to other types of this disorder.

Hyperfocus

ADHD is commonly associated with difficulties in maintaining focus. Nevertheless, individuals with ADHD may also sometimes experience hyperfocus. It means being intensely concentrated on a single task and losing track of time and surroundings. Hyperfocus can be advantageous, for example, it helps with problem-solving and boosts both motivation and productivity. However, it can also be harmful when it happens frequently or significantly affects regular day-to-day life.

Shorter Time Horizon

Time horizon refers to the capacity for future planning. Adults with ADHD often exhibit a shorter time horizon, focusing on short-term rewards, and finding it challenging to plan long-term. This can lead to impulsive decision-making and a preference for immediate gratification rather than future goals.

Problems With Time Sequencing and Time Reproduction

Time sequencing refers to arranging tasks in a logical and timely order. Time reproduction is the ability to accurately estimate the time frame needed to complete a task. People with ADHD frequently have difficulties with both skills. They may struggle with time management, task prioritization, and following through a step-by-step approach, affecting their ability to complete tasks efficiently and in a well-organized manner.

Don’t let ADHD-related time difficulties hold you back. Consult our healthcare professionals to overcome them.

Manifestations of Time Blindness

Time blindness manifests in various ways, resulting in challenges like poor time management, missed deadlines, and unrealistic planning. All these can significantly affect daily life and overall well-being:

  • Impact on relationships and work. Time blindness causes detrimental effects on both personal relationships and work performance. Those struggling with being time blind often experience chronic lateness, missed deadlines, forgotten appointments, and poor time management because of losing track of time.
  • Emotional consequences. Frequent time blindness and a tendency to miss deadlines can create a sense of failure, leading to persistent self-critical thoughts. It may intensify emotional distress, causing heightened levels of anxiety, stress, or other negative emotions, which can further strain overall mental health.

To improve mental health and overall well-being, it is essential to tackle the emotional and cognitive consequences of time blindness in everyday life. This involves comprehending its clinical implications, as outlined in a recent international medical journal.

12 Methods for Managing Time Blindness

1. Recognize time-consuming tasks. Some tasks are more demanding, and when you identify and recognize them, your schedule will not get derailed. You can take steps to minimize their impact on your time management and schedule, find ways to handle them efficiently, and therefore have more time for higher-priority tasks.

2. Plan ahead. Individuals experiencing time blindness often rush to complete tasks at the last minute. To prevent this and maintain a strong sense of time perspective, plan ahead with achievable milestones. With a proper plan in place, you can efficiently manage your tasks within set timelines and meet deadlines consistently.

3. Break down intimidating tasks. Individuals with ADHD often “freeze” when faced with big or complicated tasks. They are aware of time passing, yet the task appears overwhelming, making it challenging to initiate. A practical strategy is dividing it into smaller, manageable steps, commencing with the simplest one, and then estimating the required duration for each step.

4. Leverage technology. Various tools like smartwatches and fitness trackers can help improve time perception and management. These devices keep you on track by delivering timely reminders and notifications, keeping you alert. You can also set alarms for meetings, departures, and other events on different apps. Some options that might come in handy are:

  • Focus@will: Listen to 20-minute audio sessions approved by neuroscientists to not get distracted by the outside noise and keep a focused and productive mood.
  • Simple mind: Utilize mind mapping to organize thoughts and ideas.
  • Rescue time: Improve productivity and focus and monitor time with this app. 
  • Evernote: Take notes to better prioritize tasks and sideline distractions. 
  • Pomodoro: Set timers for breaks during tasks to better focus and have regular breaks.

5. Keep a time journal. Take a day or several days to write down how long your activities really take to complete. Such awareness about the amount of time you need to do your job, go to the store, do the dishes, etc. will help you deal with time blindness better. In general, maintaining a time log can greatly aid in understanding where the time goes.

6. Minimize distractions. Get rid of distracting factors and establish a productive environment that promotes continuous focus. Before beginning work, eat a substantial meal and always have a glass of water on the work table to not be distracted by hunger. Also, turn off unnecessary notifications and organize your workplace in a way that keeps you focused.

7. Keep a clock in each room. Despite how simple it may appear, having a clock in each area makes it much easier to keep track of time. Knowing the current time or how long a planned activity has taken might help you manage tasks better. You can keep on track by using other devices, such as an analog clock, to supplement this lost sense of internal time.

8. Add buffer time. If you are bad at estimating how long a task will take or often require more time than you think, you can add buffer time. For example, you can give yourself two hours to edit an article if you estimate it will take an hour. This helps you avoid over-committing to your day’s agenda and offers you some breathing room in case you get sidetracked at any time (which, let’s face it, is very likely to happen).

9. Take breaks. People with ADHD are more prone to hyperfocus and concentration so intense that it increases cortisol levels. A person may even forget to eat for a while. Moreover, prolonged tension and stress may result in burnout. Small breaks and refreshments will help you unwind and stay motivated, so schedule a few leisure activities in advance. 

10. Reward yourself. Give yourself a dopamine hit with bonuses for little accomplishments (dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward). These rewards can be small, like enjoying a short break, a treat, or personal time for a hobby. You can call a friend or go for a walk. This positivity fuels a sense of motivation, so you feel empowered and gain a better understanding of time management. Also, remember to schedule time for meals.

11. Prevent hyperfocus. We hyperfocus on interesting activities so naturally that we may be unable to control it. If you have ADHD, try to avoid the types of tasks you easily hyperfocus on or divide them into subtasks and schedule breaks to not lose track of time.

12. Practice early bedtime. Getting to bed earlier is one strategy for coping with time blindness. A restful night’s sleep can aid with concentration and focus, making it simpler to get through the day. Additionally, obtaining adequate sleep might improve mood, making it simpler to handle unavoidable daily setbacks.

Tips for managing time blindness

Professional help

If self-help techniques seem to be ineffective, consider consulting a healthcare provider. A professional will help you identify the root cause of time blindness and help you manage it through different approaches. You can try online ADHD management to access support conveniently from home.

Some options for time blindness treatment include medication, psychotherapy, and coaching. Cognitive-behavioral therapy [3*] is commonly used to address negative thought patterns contributing to time blindness and enhance problem-solving and time-management skills. Coaching may provide insight into lifestyle changes that assist in developing structured routines and effective task prioritization. For ADHD-related time blindness, ADHD medications such as methylphenidate [4*] can help manage symptoms too, but it’s important to consult a healthcare provider to get them prescribed and follow the instructions strictly.

Final Thoughts

Although every person’s experience of time blindness is different, due to the underlying reason, the symptoms are quite common. Time blindness is a complex issue that can significantly impact daily life, particularly for individuals with ADHD. The good news is that it can be managed with lifestyle tips and professional help, enabling you to regain control over your time and work toward a well-organized and fulfilling life. Contact us today to have your symptoms checked and know what approach can help you reduce ADHD symptoms.

FAQ

Time blindness is not a recognized medical condition. It refers to a set of symptoms and experiences in which individuals struggle with time management, punctuality, and organization. These symptoms may be associated with various medical conditions, such as ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.

No, time blindness is not a disability. It is a symptom of several conditions and can be managed with medication, psychotherapy, and some practical tips, including mindfulness techniques.

Some signs that might indicate you have time blindness include:

  • struggling to estimate the duration of tasks;
  • difficulty managing your time;
  • frequently running late for commitments;
  • struggling to schedule tasks throughout the day;
  • excessive procrastination.

Most importantly, pay attention to these symptoms if they interfere significantly with your daily life. If you suspect you have time blindness, it’s advisable to contact a healthcare provider for assistance.

Trauma can lead to time-related difficulties [5*] , especially for those who have PTSD. It can affect how people perceive and manage time by disrupting their cognitive and emotional functioning.

Gen Z is known for their fast-paced digital lifestyle, including excessive screen time and constant connectivity through digital devices. These factors may negatively affect their time management and overall perception of time. However, note that these issues are not exclusive to Gen Z, and not every individual within this generation will necessarily experience time-related problems.

Sources

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5 sources
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5884954/
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  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6556068/
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  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17712167/
    Source link
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14769100/
    Source link
  5. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2013-42332-006
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Written by:

Wafaa Amjad Dar

Pharm-D
Reviewer:

Dr. Bradley Noon

MD
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This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.