January 2008- Volume V - Issue I

ADHD - Time as a potential BLACK HOLE

Statement: My intent in this newsletter is to express as quickly as possible my own beliefs and opinions on matters. I have no problems with people who disagree with my opinion and have even been swayed to rethink my position from time to time. We are still taking book orders for my book "ADHD and The Criminal Justice System" and you can get my author's discount from the www.addcorridorcoaching.com/book.asp

Patrick Hurley was recently appointed to the Professional Advisory Board of the Attention Deficit Disorder Association. For more information you can go to www.add.org

First of all I want to thank one of my clients for bringing up the phrase of time as a Black Hole for those of us with ADHD. The dictionary defines black hole other than the celestial/universe definition as something that consumes a resource continually.

Unstructured time seems to be the biggest culprit. It seems like any extra time we might have is squandered away doing unproductive things like watching t.v., playing video games, taking a nap or daydreaming. My client mentioned to me that he has to always be aware of new potential BLACK HOLES that seem to suck up his time.

He explained that he recently got a handle on his problem of playing video games only to be surfing the net and finding a discussion page on Wikepedia on a subject of interest. There were about six people heavily involved in this discussion and even though he did not get involved himself he was amazed at the time he had spent monitoring this matter. This seems like a very common problem for those of us with ADHD. We often get a grasp on one problem only to replace it with another and don't realize it for some time.

Many of you will no doubt relate to the unexpected arrival of some unforeseen free time. We are surprised by this and think of something we could do to fill this void. But then we struggle with actually using this time to do the project. We usually waste it away by doing something unproductive. We might try and convince ourselves that we actually used the time wisely but in retrospect we come to the realization that it was another lost opportunity. This usually results in us beating ourselves up about wasting this block of time.

What causes these black holes? I believe it is our tendency to misjudge the amount of time it takes to complete a task coupled with our lack of realization of the passing of time. Most of us have had experience in both overestimating the amount of time a project will actually take. Mine is cleaning my garage. I always think it will take about 3 days or so. In reality it would probably take about six to eight hours of time. Or on the other hand we underestimate the time it will take to do a project. A big one for a lot of my clients is doing their income taxes. They think if they put their minds to it they could probably do their taxes in a couple of days. This might actually be possible if they had put their records where they were all together as the year goes along. Most of us do not put things together and the result is that our taxes take a week or two to get everything ready to start. Then we procrastinate till the last minute on actually filing.

Many people I know with ADHD are a year or more behind on filing their taxes and most of them are actually due a refund for all the years they are behind.

If we could somehow come up with a way to use these potential black holes of time by taking baby steps to complete major tasks we would be much more productive. As usual though talking about doing these things and actually doing them are two different things.

So our time wasting black holes continue. I think the first step is the realization that we have been sucked into a black hole in the first place. Recognizing it while we are in one can spur us to some type of action. More often than not the black hole has consumed us and we have exited the black hole before we realize that we were in it. So be on the lookout for these time wasters, try to increase our awareness of what we are doing. If we are notified of a canceled appointment, or a free moment, try and condition ourselves to have the first thought in our mind be what will I do with this time?

Some people with ADHD go to the extreme of over scheduling their lives so that they have no free time. This could be good but also could be exhausting and lead to other problems in our personal and professional lives.

It is only in recognition that we can defeat these black holes. Maybe you just have never realized this is what was occurring. Recognition is not easy and we can expect failures. But by at least trying we might be more productive and have less ammunition with which we can use to beat ourselves up with.

Thanks and talk to you next month.

Patrick Hurley

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Author's Bio: 

17 Years Deputy Sheriff (Lieutenant), 5 years Adult Probation/Parole Officer, 11 years Adult ADHD Support Group facilitator, 4 years ADHD Life Skills Coach, Co-Author of book