Five Tips to Improve Your Punctuality

Just as some people are color blind many people with ADHD tend to be time blind.They lose track of time, have difficulty estimating how long things will take and struggle with getting to where they need to be on time. They tend to be late for everything including work, school and social engagements. This impacts not only the person with ADHD but family members, friends and employers who tend to get annoyed when they are kept waiting. The person who is always late is often seen as someone who is flaky, inconsiderate and unreliable. Being late to everything is a hard habit to break but there .everyday tools that help people improve their tardiness.

1. Wear a wristwatch everyday.

Find a watch that you like to wear and put it on your wrist when you get dressed in the morning. It will serve as a time reminder and increase your awareness of time passing. Consider using an analog watch with a second-hand as opposed to a digital watch. Analog watches are simpler to read, easier to set and will improve your sense of time by providing a visual map of the passage of time. People use their cell phones to keep track of time but with all the bells and whistles on their cell phones they may start out checking the time but get distracted with all the other features and actually lose track of time.

2. Have a clock in every room of your house.

Set all of them to the right time. If you know that one of your clocks is set ten minutes ahead you will subconsciously think you have extra time because that clock is fast. It’s easy to lose track of time if you don’t have clocks as visual reminders.

3. Get out of bed when the alarm goes off.

If you have a snooze function on your alarm clock consider replacing it. Five or ten more minutes in bed won’t make any difference in your energy level but it will make you five or ten minutes late to work. Try placing your alarm clock across the room so that you have to get up to shut it off. You may find it helpful to have two alarm clocks so that if you sleep through the first alarm you have a back up system. If you can’t get out of bed in the morning you may be going to sleep too late.

4. Listen to music.  

If you tend to lose track of time as you get ready for work try listening to the radio. Most radio shows announce the time frequently and provide an aural cue. If you like to listen to music in the morning you can judge the passage of time by knowing that most songs are about three minutes long.

5. Avoid checking your e-mail in the morning.

You may think that it will only take a minute but nothing really only takes a minute and it’s easy to get distracted.

Save checking your e-mail for later in the day when you have some down time.

You can manage your e-mail more efficiently by un-subscribing to e-mail alerts that you don’t actually read.

If you absolutely need to check your e-mail in the morning, wake up earlier and use a timer to signal when you will shut the computer.

Take small steps to improve your punctuality and track your progress. Remember to reward yourself for being on time. Set a goal to be on time and work toward that goal.

Habits are hard to change but with persistence, determination and support you will get there.

Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach in Brooklyn, NY. She helps teens, college students and adults with ADHD with time management, planning and prioritizing, getting started with and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and improving social skills. She is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in downtown Brooklyn. For more information visit her website: or email Kathy at

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