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Time Blindness and Dyslexia

What is it, how to manage it, and how does it affect you.

Have you ever said, "oh, easy, that will only take me 10 minutes," then you find yourself working on the same assignment your boss gave you two hours later? We have good news, and this is not because you are dumb or can't do something, but it could be because of your time blindness (aka Dyschronometria). Fun fact- having a good sense of time is part of executive function, which most dyslexics struggle with.

What is time blindness:

Time blindness or Dyschronometria (its scientific name, but we will refer to it as time blindness for ease of reading) is when a person can not accurately assess how long a task will take or tell how much time has passed since starting something.

How it affects Dyslexics:

Most neuro-diverse people suffer from time blindness. Research is still really young, but already researchers are seeing links between dyslexia and time blindness. If you are dyscalculic, you are more likely to struggle with time blindness.

Common Time Blindness symptoms:

  • always running late

  • underestimating/overestimating how long a task will take

  • forgetting to factor in travel time or prep time when planning

  • Late on paying bills or returning things

  • feeling like you are always behind and can't get ahead

  • not completing things on time

  • being stressed when asked to plan

How to manage time blindness:

  • Timers- regardless of how long something takes, set a timer for how long you think an activity will take and stop when the timer goes off if you need extra time; set one more alarm for 15 more minutes.

  • Find a baseline- After you have used the timer method for a while, you will get a pretty good baseline for how long tasks take you. Finding a baseline will be helpful with tasks that you do routinely. For example, after years of writing and timing myself, I know it will take me about 1 hour to write and edit 500 words.

  • Alarms- Set alarms for EVERYTHING! No matter how big or small. Struggling to drink water, set an alarm. Forgetting to take the trash out on Tuesday, set an alarm. Have an appointment in a month from now, set three alarms.

  • Over Planning- This one sounds simple. If I plan more, then maybe I can be more on time. While a little true, some over-planning tips can help offset the lateness you will run into. Always round down; if you need to leave at 10:15 to get to a meeting, force yourself to go at 10:00. This way you are more likely to be on time than late.

  • Work Backwards- When planning when to leave or how long something will take, plan backward so you don't rush at the last moment. For example, dinner reservations are at 9 pm. It will take 15 minutes to get there, so I must leave at 8:45 pm. It will take an hour to get showered and ready, so I need to get ready at 7:45 pm. Then round down a little to build in some extra cushion time, so I will start getting ready at 7:30 pm.

We are big fans of radical acceptance at Dyslexia in Adults, and this is one of those areas where we have to accept that we will never be neurotypical. We will be late, lose track of time, and forget to turn things in on time. That is all ok; we are simply going to strive to be a little less late, not always on time.

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