April Jeppson: Are you familiar with time-blindness?

Published 8:45 pm Friday, October 20, 2023

I’ve put in some long hours this week. Partly to catch up from my time away while in LaCrosse, and partly because I came back refreshed and with a clearer vision for what needs to be done. Finishing up this week, and I wish there were more hours in the day. As hard as I try, I’m just not getting through my list as quickly as I’d like.

April Jeppson

The good news is that I’m OK with enjoying my weekend knowing that I didn’t finish everything I wanted to. I’ve recently been told (a few times) that the work will be here waiting for me when I get back. This is 100% true. There are tasks that have to be completed by certain deadlines, and then there are projects that are ongoing and without end.

A few years ago, I’m not sure how I would have handled “never-ending” work. I was accustomed to leaving work when my job was done. As a cosmetologist, I couldn’t just leave for the night if I had a client still in my chair. When I coach gymnastics I would never head home in the middle of practice and say to myself, “I’ll finish it tomorrow.” It’s funny to think about though.

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It has taken me a while to transition into this different mindset. It’s hard for me to walk away from something that isn’t complete. It’s especially difficult if I didn’t make a self-imposed deadline. No one required or even asked me to get these things done by a certain time. Often they say, “no rush” or “get back to me in the next week or two.” However, I tend to think I can accomplish things faster than I can, so I have a tendency to be disappointed in myself.

One of the many quirks of having ADHD is a thing called time blindness. The way I perceive time can cause me to be late, thinking that certain activities are taking way longer than they actually are and misjudging how much time a task will take. I’ll paint you a picture of a common occurrence in my home.

I look at the clock and realize that I have 15 minutes until I need to be somewhere. I start looking for a pair of socks, then I gather some clothes, start a load of laundry, walk through my kitchen and realize I need to put in some new Scentsy, remember that I still don’t have socks so I go back to my bedroom to look again — by the time I actually have my socks and shoes on, 10 minutes have gone by. I’ve known for years that it takes me no less than seven minutes to get to my destination, and yet at no time did I believe that I was going to be late. I honest to goodness thought that I had enough time to still tackle a few things. As I pull out of my driveway, I’m still not convinced I’ll be late.

So it should really be no surprise that I tried to cram a month’s worth of work into five days. I will most likely always default to this. The trick for me is to realize that my perception of time can be skewed. I would never expect anyone else to work this many hours, so I need to extend myself the same courtesy. Wish me luck!

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.