Time blindness is a common experience that neurodivergent individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can have daily. 

What is time blindness? And how does it affect people with ADHD and autism? Let’s dive in and explore. 

Time Blindness and Neurodiversity

“‘Time blindness’ refers to the inability to recognize when time has passed or to estimate how long something will take.” (Cleveland Clinic, 2023) 

Sometimes, all of us can get so focused on a task that we don’t realize how much time has passed. However, individuals with ADHD and ASD can experience time blindness more often than neurotypical individuals.  

Time blindness or moments of intense hyperfocus on specific tasks or projects warp your reality of time. For college students with ADHD or ASD, this time warp can have severe consequences. Missing assignments, putting off projects or chronically arriving late to class are a few examples.

For neurodivergent college students, time blindness can lead to feeling completely overwhelmed or anxious. This can impact students with poor academic performance or failing grades. Also, students with time blindness can experience symptoms of poor self-esteem or mental health challenges like depression.

Does that mean students with poor time management skills can’t be successful in college?

Definitely not – college can be the right place for everyone, given the right tools and systems in place.

Students with time blindness can learn time management techniques and tools to succeed in college that will help them in school and after graduation.

We often witness the significance of providing customized support for neurodivergent college students in our work. Here are four powerful strategies that we’ve found can help combat time blindness in college.

4 College Survival Strategies to Combat Time Blindness

1) Use technology and digital tools to manage time effectively

ADDitude Magazine created a detailed list of time management apps that help individuals with ADHD. If you or a loved one struggles with time management, download an app and try a few out to see which fits your needs best.

Also, it’s important to be aware of digital apps and tools that waste too much of your time. Scrolling on Instagram or discussing fan fiction theories online can easily turn a 20-minute break into 2 hours. If it helps to take a social media break or delete some apps on your phone, try it for a week and see how you feel.

2) Create visual schedules and reminders to stay organized

Digital tools and apps can be great tools for time management. Buying a planner or calendar for your desk or study space can also be effective.

If you take two or four classes in a quarter or semester, color-code your assignments by class. Personalizing your planner or calendar and getting creative with it all can make the process more fun and interesting. If you like sticky notes or whiteboards, use those as time management and reminder tools.

Whatever method you use, remember that time management is a process, and you can decide what works best for you and your learning style.

3) Break tasks into smaller, manageable chunks

If you’re bored out of your mind studying for your world history exam, consider taking a break.

Set a timer for 20 minutes to go for a walk, eat a snack or play your guitar. After the timer goes off, start studying for another 20 minutes.

Getting into a rhythm that works best for you is a great step to better time management. When timing your tasks, you can also get a better idea of how much time a task will take.

Start studying topics that interest you first to make the process easier, and then try switching to a more challenging topic or vice versa.

A popular time management technique is the Pomodoro Technique, which helps break tasks into more manageable tasks.

Deciding how to use your time wisely is an empowering process. When you feel in charge of your schedule, you can feel in charge of your life.

4) Ask for help from a trusted source

If you or a loved one is struggling with the effects that come with ADHD or ASD, reach out for support. Enlisting an academic or executive-functioning coach or a therapist can be life-changing for a college student.

Practice self-awareness around your strengths and weaknesses around time management. Ask someone to help you create schedules, planning tools and organization methods is a great way to combat time blindness.

Everyone – neurodivergent or neurotypical – needs help at one point in their life.

Perfectionism, imposter syndrome or rejection sensitivity dysphoria – all of these play into having ADHD, ASD or other learning challenges. These conditions can cause individuals to feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help.

As human beings, we have a basic need to connect and receive support from others. Finding the right support system for you or your loved one starts with reaching out to ask for help.

We partner with students, their parents, and schools to get them the help they need to thrive in college.

College with neurodiversity can be successful with the right support

By using the right technology, tools, techniques, and support system – college students with time blindness can be wildly successful.

If you or a loved one needs time management skills development or steps to take to overcome time blindness, let’s connect!

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