Time is a finite resource.  As much as we would like to solve the problem of "not enough time" by adding another hour or two to the day, it is not possible.  We are always limited by this fixed, yet elusive commodity which is why it can be so frustrating when we feel robbed of the time we need.

Time robbers steal valuable time away from us.  Some of these time robbers are imposed upon us by others or by circumstance, and are less in our control. Other time robbers are self-inflicted.  In other words, we allow our valuable time to be stolen.  However, no matter how time is lost to us - an unexpected situation or something we cause ourselves - we still can minimize the damage. 

Let’s begin by looking at these time robbers and what we can do about it:

Interruptions- Life is full of unexpected surprises.  Some are completely unnecessary, some are inconvenient and others are essential to our daily lives. Two of the biggest types of interruptions are personal or mechanical.  Personal interruptions are usually requests from other people. Mechanical time robbers are things like when the car won't start or is running low on gas, when traffic interferes with our typical commute or the ink runs out on the computer printer.

Solution: The solution to minimizing the time lost by these interruptions is to plan for them. 1. Take care of them or reschedule the request and get back to what's important as quickly as possible before it robs you of even more time in the way of stress or priorities, and 2. Plan ahead for mechanical ‘glitches’ by keeping extra supplies, repair numbers, etc. on hand.

Waiting- So much time can be wasted while we wait for someone or something.  This time robber is one of the most frustrating because it feels like we are at the mercy of someone else's schedule, senseless request or disorganization.

Solution: The trick to not wasting time while waiting is to 1. Either directly convey to the other person the need for promptness of their response, or 2. Take advantage of the time by having other tasks you can complete. Again, planning ahead with things to do will help you not waste the time by waiting or worrying about things that are out of your control. 

Time Optimism- Some would say that procrastination is the greatest time robber, however, equal to the time actually lost putting something off, is the time lost when we take on too much.  At the core of time optimism is often the challenge people with ADHD have of underestimating how much time something will actually take to do.  We set aside a half hour for something that take twice that long. It’s important to learn how to gage how long it will take to do something or get somewhere. When we know the time frame and then accurately plan for that time, we will actually accomplish more. 

Solution: If you think you might be a "time optimist," try keeping this time log for even a few days >>>>>>>>>>>> You may be amazed at how different time "feels" than how you use it.

Procrastination-If putting things off is your time robber MO, try addressing "why" you are putting something off.  Initially, putting something off might be due to lack of interest, confusion, perfectionism, or not enough time to complete it.  However, if you continually waste time being unproductive because you put something off, consider this: Procrastination is a learned habit. Over time we come to believe that we actually function better at the "last minute."  Yes, the stress of procrastinating until the ‘last minute’ releases adrenaline and dopamine allowing us to focus and concentrate better. However, the reality is stress causes damaging wear and tear on your body that far outweighs that extra last minute boost.

Difficulty prioritizing- Unbeknownst to many people with ADHD, prioritizing is another key challenge with ADHD which leads to robbing us of an enormous amount of our time.  Often we can "know", have the big picture of what needs to be done, but are challenged by where to start and what to do next.  A key to prioritizing is to remember what is "important" verses what is "interesting".  Important things are meaningful to us.  They include things like being productive, doing a good job, following through, etc.  Interesting things that distract us and steal our time typically do not support these "important" things.  They may include surfing the internet, watching TV for hours, etc.

Solution: Remember that urgent, interesting and fun are typically not important when prioritizing. Keys characteristics of a priority is something that has a deadline.  When asked, your boss, family, friend will tell you it is important to them.  You can write it down.

Overwhelm-When things seem "too big" or "too hard" or "too stressful," our ADHD brains shut off and very little if anything gets done. Being able to stay out of overwhelm is essential to protecting our time. 

Solution: Ways to protect ourselves from overwhelm include: Breaking larger projects up into smaller tasks and setting hard deadlines for those. Minimizing paperwork by handling it as little as possible. If you can do it quickly, do it and get it off of your plate.  If it can be put away, file it.  If it will take longer, write it down on your to do list with a deadline for when you can do it later.

Perfectionism- "100% done is better than 200% perfect".  Perfectionism seems to stop everything on the "get it done" track.  It is also one of the sneakiest and most rationalized ways our time is robbed.  How can doing a "the best job" not be a good thing?  Making something perfect doesn't equate to getting it done and robs us of endless amounts of time.  Perfectionism is also a strong kin to procrastination and difficulty prioritizing. When we are stuck in perfectionism, what we are really doing is putting something off or doing something that is more interesting, but not important.

Solution: If perfectionism is one of the ways you are robbed of time, the first step is to know it.  The next step is to go back and get clear about what is important whether that is checking in with yourself or those around you.

Ineffective planning- We are robbed of so much time when we haven't planned effectively. This is different than when we have no plan.  Typically people with ADHD have considered a plan or thought about a plan.  What makes a plan effective is that we follow it.

Solution: Being able to follow a plan is more likely if it is 1. Created according to our priorities, 2. Realistic in that we have thought through how much time it will take to complete, 3. It is written down, and 4. When we refer to our plan frequently. 

What are some other solutions to the time robbers that keep you from reaching your goals?

Author's Bio: 

Laurie Dupar, Senior Certified ADHD Coach and trained Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, specializes in coaching clients who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Through individual/group coaching, speaking, and writing, she helps clients and loved ones use effective strategies to minimize their ADHD challenges and experience success. She is also the co-author/editor of 365+1 ways to succeed with ADHD, 365 ways to succeed with ADHD and author of Brain Surfing and 31 Other Awesome Qualities of ADHD and Unlock the Secrets to your Entrepreneurial Brain Style. For more information, visit http://www.coachingforadhd.com.