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ADHD Time Management Problems and Solutions

Time can be tricky. Sometimes there’s too much of it. Sometimes there isn’t enough. To make things worse, people with ADHD tend to generally have problems planning ahead, and planning out how to use time is no exception.

Still, some well-aimed coping strategies can bring a little order to the ADHDer’s schedule. Here are some common problems people with ADHD have trying to manage time and some potential fixes to try.

Time ManagementProblem: Putting so much work into time management that it detracts from actually being productive.

Solution: Using routines to cut down on time management overhead.

Planning ahead and doing organizational work takes a lot of effort for people with ADHD, sometimes to the point that all the work you have to do planning to be productive ends up getting in the way of being productive. Routines can cut back on the amount of planning you have to do. For example, if you know you have a certain day of the week you do laundry or a certain time of day you always devote to work, you don’t have to plan out when you’re going to do laundry, do work, etc.

Problem: Not knowing how long things will take.

Solution: Overestimating.

People with ADHD can have a hard time judging how long tasks will take to complete. But if you always err on the side of overestimating how much time you need to do something, the worst that’ll happen is you’ll end up with a little extra time. Underestimating, on the other hand, can create a chain reaction of problems because it makes you late to the next thing you have to do, and so on. Add to that the fact that certain tasks often do take longer for people with ADHD to finish anyway, and you can see why it’s a good idea to always put aside more time for things than you think you need.

Problem: Doing things at the “wrong times.”

Solution: Figuring out what times of day you’re most productive.

Just because you plan to do something at a certain time doesn’t mean that’s the best time to do that thing. We all have different times when we’re more focused and alert than others. Some people are most productive first thing in the morning while others like to burn the midnight oil. People with ADHD sometimes have atypical circadian rhythms, making them most productive at times of day (or night) other than the ones they’re “supposed” to be productive at. Do some experimenting and find what times of day work best for you when it comes to planning different activities.

D’you have other problems and/or solutions? Leave them below (if you have time)!

Image: Flickr/John Morgan under CC BY 2.0

ADHD Time Management Problems and Solutions

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2016). ADHD Time Management Problems and Solutions. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2018, from


Last updated: 28 Dec 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Dec 2016
Published on All rights reserved.