Imagine.yourself sitting in the middle of the railroad tracks making mud pies. A long loud woo-hoo-oo echoes in the air. You look up to see a huge train engine bearing down on you.

Cut !

"What ? Why on earth would I be doing such a silly thing ?"

Well, change the scene a bit. You aren't on railroad tracks but on a project track. You have until Friday to complete a project at work. Thursday night you suddenly see this project looming over you, and you haven't started yet. You're late again. Children with ADHD often do this, but adults do it too.

For many people time advances in front of them and falls away behind in an orderly fashion like the crossties on the railroad tracks. They are able to estimate how much time has elapsed or organize future tasks neatly to fit the time available.

Others, especially people with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, ADHD) experience time as a higgledy-piggledy pile of crossties spread out in all directions. They have no sense of the train arriving until it appears on top of them; they are often late for meetings or forget completely. They say " yes " to too many things without considering how each commitment will fit on the time track.

How can we see time coming ? How can we visualize time the better to manage it?

Instead of sitting playing mud pies waiting for events to happen to us, let's imagine riding in the train. The train is a time-machine which transports us through today. The train track is time extending into the future. Stations activities to be carried out sequentially one after another .

You board the train at 'Getting-Out-of-Bed'. The train starts off at 8:00, rolling smoothly through the countryside, clickety-clack marking the rhythm while you get dressed and ready for the day. The conductor announces "the next station will be 'Breakfast' at 8:15".

As the train slides gently to a stop you slide into your seat to eat breakfast. The train starts off again, clickety-clack. While you are eating the conductor announces "the next stop at 8:45 will be 'Laundry-Day'".

Other stops for today's trip might be "Paying-the-Bills", "Doctor's-Appointment", "Project-Meeting", and so on. The last stop of course will be "In-Bed-Lights-Out".

Good night and sweet dreams.

For people with Attention Deficit Disorder, a fanciful vision can provide the stimulation necessary to stay on track.

Here is a practical program to help you manage time successfully with ADHD (Attention Defcit Disorder).

Materials you will need:

a) An agenda (one only) for future commitments
b) Daily planning sheets


1. Note all future commitments in the agenda These are your "train stations".

2. Determine the how much time you need to do the activity including preparation and finishing time. If you don't know how much time you need, measure it or ask someone who is better at judging time than you are.

For example the time for "Doctor's Appointment" should include the time to get yourself ready, the time to get there including parking time (be sure to allow extra time for traffic holdups), and the expected time in the doctor's office.

3. Note any materials or resources you will need in order to complete this event. If you need to purchase supplies or get information before the event, schedule these activities as new events at an appropriate time.

4. Each night, before you go to bed, review your day. Did you do all you planned? Do not punish yourself. This is a learning process.

If you underestimated the time to do a task, make a note of the time you really need.

If you did things which were not planned, put them on the schedule so the next time you allow time for them.

5. Plan tomorrow. Take the events in you agenda plus whatever else needs doing and make a list of train stations and times verify that you have enough time to complete each activity and get to the next one. If you have a PDA, you could program it to make your train conductors announcements.

6. Note any materials you may need to take with you. Put them in your brief case or car so you don't forget them.

Good night. Sleep tight, and have a great trip!

Author's Bio: 

Sarah Jane Keyser is an ADHD coach with an international practice who helps adults and adolescents find joy and fulfillment with ADHD.
Learn more about coaching for ADHD at Coaching Key to ADD .
For more tips on living with ADHD see Brain Skills for ADHD.