Cameron Gott, PCC
ADHD Coaching for Leaders & Professionals


The Global Creative Blog

ADHD and Time: A Blindness or 'Magical Mystery Tour'?


Entrepreneurs need vision and an ability to articulate that vision.  Yet Entrepreneurs with ADHD can really struggle with maintaining and articulating vision.  Several factors contribute to disrupting this, but one in particular is time. Especially, seizing the opportunity in the present moment.  The present is where we make the key decisions to move our agenda forward.  The present holds a different kind of power where vision is developed, relationships are kindled and big actions are completed.  Global Creatives can often have an adversarial relationship with time and really struggle with making the most of the current moment.

Time Blindness

From an outside perspective our relationship with time can leave others scratching their heads.  It can look like ambivalence, procrastination, lack of vision, lack of caring or worse.  Researchers like Russell Barkley speak often of  time blindness.  Time blindness is real, but more of a phenomenon observed by a third party practitioner.  From the perspective of the time-challenged individual it is something more insidious, wonderful, entertaining and intriguing.  Something I call time compression.

It's hard to stay present when your imagination serves up something akin to a 'Magical Mystery Tour' moment.  Experiencing the time compression effect, someone with ADHD can zoom in a blink of an eye from a past memory to a future possibility blasting right through the all important present.  We are reminded of something and it triggers a feeling. The feeling triggers a memory and we zoom back to a time feeling regret.  A moment later we zoom into a fantasy future or a future full of darkness.  Faulty working memory and colorful creative imagery collude with temporal regulation (Executive Function) challenges to sweep us into a roller coaster ride through time.  All the while your task you want to do right in this present moment languishes.  When the future or past are so compelling and seemingly real, the present has little chance of getting our attention.  In time compression the present is pressed into a thin space between the past and the future.

Time and Consistent Vision

This 'time travel' commands our attention, yanks our emotions all over the map and, most importantly, keeps us out of the all important present (present opportunity, present moment with someone special, present thought, present action or present vision).  My clients also describe this as an 'Alice in Wonderland' moment when time vanishes and they return hours later with very little to show but a whole lot of lost productivity.  Ultimately, leaders need consistent focus on their vision and also need to articulate the vision in a consistent manner.  You can see how 'time travel' can disrupt this important process - If the 'attention channel' is constantly getting changed it is hard to maintain and articulate consistent vision.

Limiting the Time Travel

Barkley suggests strategies of 'seeing the past' and 'feeling the future'.  Great ideas but before we can do this we have to limit time travel.  Start with putting a GPS on your time travel moments distinguishing the past, present and future.  Global Creatives' concept of the present is often a thin barrier between the two larger entities of past and present.  Like a bead curtain between two rooms housing two different but mesmerizing entertainment centers it is easy to miss the present experience.  Time has no weight, no feel.  It's hard to  manage what one cannot see.  It's not that Global Creatives are blind to time but it can be challenging to represent time's physical qualities.  When we don't fully understand something we can't use it to it's full effect.  Get curious about your relationship with time.

Carve out your Present

Look to create some space for the present.  It often can't compete with the imagery of the future or the emotions of the past.  Get curious about the inherent value of the present.  Once you start to see the value and have success practicing being in the present you will start to see features that will give our two dimensional 'bead curtain' a necessary third dimension that you can step into, pass through and eventually visit at will.   'Time Blocking' or 'Boxing' is really just making the most of a present moment sometime in your near future.  This is were we get things done and feel a sense of accomplishment.  Dreaming about opportunities is important but they will never amount to anything if you don't act on them in the present.  Ultimately the present can become the 'room' you inhabit most of the time with the past and future rooms as essential but secondary additions.