Time Blindness and Executive Functions

Time Blindness and Executive Functions

What You Need to Know About Time Blindness and Executive Functions

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Have you ever gone to spend five minutes on a task only to realize it’s been an hour since you sat down? Have you ever put off sending an email because you didn’t realize it had been two weeks since you replied? Have you ever gone out for a few minutes and returned hours later than expected? If these scenarios are common in your day to day life, it’s possible that you have time blindness. But what is time blindness?

Time blindness refers to one’s inability to judge the passage of time. A person with time blindness has an impaired judgment when it comes to predicting how long a task would take. It also results in an overall inability to perceive time, which results in missed appointments, mealtimes, and events, to name a few. Time blindness is also one of the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

 

What are the main signs of time blindness, and how can you tell whether you have it?

 

People with time blindness often have trouble remembering the timeframe of past events. They will often struggle to answer questions like, “When was the last time you went to the cinema?” or “How long ago was this photo taken?” The brain knows that an event transpired, but it can’t tell whether it was a week or a month ago.

In the present, time blindness poses problems since it makes it impossible to predict how long something will take. If you give someone with time blindness a deadline, they will likely struggle to understand it and may not be able to meet it without outside assistance.

Likewise, persons suffering from time blindness may have difficulty making plans for the future. They struggle with establishing plans and determining when they may need to take time off. It all comes down to your assessment of the influence of time passing on yourself, and if you are “time blind,” you may have difficulty comprehending or dealing with this.

Likewise, persons suffering from time blindness may have difficulty making plans for the future. They struggle with establishing plans and determining when they may need to take time off. It all comes down to your assessment of the influence of time passing on yourself, and if you are “time blind,” you may have difficulty comprehending or dealing with this.

 

Does ADHD Cause Time Blindness and Executive Functions Difficulties?

 

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Many of the symptoms of ADHD, a neurological disorder that disrupts the brain’s executive functions and its ability to self-regulate, are connected to time and time management. Individuals with ADHD often struggle with managing their day to day activities, planning for the future, accomplishing tasks, meeting deadlines, and following a schedule because of challenges concerning time blindness and executive functions. This is because someone with ADHD typically has a shorter time horizon. Time horizon refers to how far you can look into the future and make plans ahead of time. 

 

 

Is time blindness just associated with those who have ADHD?

 

While time blindness is typically associated with ADHD, studies have shown that the condition is also connected to sleep deprivation, melancholy, anxiety, depression, and alcoholism. These conditions can all have a significant impact on our mental health and how we see the world, and thus, on our brain’s executive functions. Executive functioning refers to the brain-based processes that include flexible thinking, self-control, and working memory.

Ari Tuckman, PsyD, of Westchester, PA, states that time blindness of individuals with ADHD contributes to frequent hyperfocus. “Good attention regulation is doing the correct thing at the appropriate time,” explains Dr. Tuckman. He defines distraction as shifting when you should have stayed put, but “hyperfocus is the inverse of this—you stick when you should be shifting. Hyperfocus appears to be amazing attention, but it isn’t because what it is, is losing sight of time.”

 

5 Ways to Deal with Time Blindness and Executive Functions

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Okay, so problems with time blindness and executive functions are not simply because of laziness, but how does one deal with it? Do you simply have to put up with being late and missing things all the time? The answer is no. In fact, there are simple steps you can take to help you better manage and track time. These are:

  1. Include some timepieces in your life.

When you have reminders, it is much easier to notice that time is passing. One of the easiest ways you can combat time blindness and executive functions difficulties is to install numerous clocks in rooms where you spend a lot of time. Wear a watch, hang wall clocks, or plug-in digital clocks — whatever works — just make sure they’re at eye level, simple to see, and visible from most areas in the room.

  1. Begin tracking how long chores take.

When you have difficulties with time blindness and executive functions, you typically have a lack of knowledge of how long various tasks can take to accomplish. To solve this, try writing down how long you believe something will take before you begin, and then writing down how long it took when you’re finished. Allow yourself at least as much time the next time you go to undertake that activity.

  1. Divide long-term deadlines into smaller ones.

When an important deadline looms over your head, it can be crippling to a point. You end up procrastinating and struggling to start your task. Allow yourself many mini-deadlines leading up to the main deadline so that you can complete bits and pieces of the project rather than having to do it all at once the night before.

  1. Use visual timers to help you stay focused.

Even if you’re surrounded by clocks, they don’t do a good job of visually displaying how much time has passed. So the minute hand has moved slightly… or significantly. For someone with time blindness and executive functions difficulties, this may look all the same and can make combating time blindness difficult. Instead, use a visual timer, which allows you to see exactly how much time has passed.

  1. Keep a journal to record the events of the past.

It may not interfere with your day-to-day functioning, but some people are bothered by how their memories appear to blend as a result of time blindness and executive functions difficulties. Journaling may be a good method to keep track of your memories. And if you ever feel like you can’t remember what you’ve done in your life, you can look back at your diaries for some assistance. Aside from being a written record of your thoughts and life events, journaling also promotes relaxation.

 

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What You Need to Know About Time Blindness and Executive Functions?

 

 

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Craig Selinger

Owner at Themba Tutors
Craig Selinger, CEO of Themba Tutors (serving Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx, Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut), is a NY State licensed speech-language pathologist, executive functioning coach, and learning specialist with over 18 years of experience working professionally with over a thousand families. His expertise includes language-based learning issues, e.g. reading, writing, speaking, and listening, executive functioning, ADHD/ADD, and learning disabilities. Check out his interviews with top-notch professionals in the field on Spotify.
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