ADHD Being Late

ADHD Being Late

Are you having a hard time staying on schedule? You're not alone. For many people with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or ADHD, time flies at an inexplicable pace, leaving them distracted and scrambling to complete just "one more thing" before leaving the house. This article aims to shed light on the intricate relationship between ADHD and chronic lateness, offering actionable strategies to improve your time management skills.

Published on
Updated on
estimated reading time

Written by

Alice Gendron

Founder of The Mini ADHD Coach

Reviewed by

Alice Gendron

Founder of The Mini ADHD Coach
In this Article

Reviewed by

Alice Gendron

Founder of The Mini ADHD Coach
A word form our expert

ADHD & Chronic Lateness

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects millions of adults worldwide. One of the most challenging ADHD symptoms many adults grapple with is time management.

Frequently being late is a significant aspect of this struggle. In fact, many adults with ADHD frequently report running late, forgetting events, or losing track of time entirely. This isn't just an occasional inconvenience; it's a recurring issue that can significantly impact work, relationships, and overall quality of life. 🥴

But why do adults with ADHD struggle with time management? Some researchers point to "time blindness," a term that describes the difficulty many individuals with ADHD have in understanding and managing time. 

Others focus on impulse control issues that lead to distractions, making it difficult to focus on the task. 🧐As we delve deeper into this subject, we will explore various symptoms, their underlying causes, and effective time management strategies that can make a difference.

Whether it's the fear of losing your job, the stress of waiting on a chronically late friend, or the simple desire to improve your schedule and planning, mastering time management can provide tangible benefits in most cases. Let's explore how to turn the tables on chronic lateness and take control of your time once and for all. 💪

for many people with ADHD, being on time is not easy

ADHD Traits That Can Mean We Lose Track of Time

To understand why people with an ADHD diagnosis might have issues with lateness, it’s essential to understand the ADHD traits that can have a significant impact on the perception and management of time. When we can unpack why we might have a habit of leaving things to the last minute, we have a good chance of finding ways to manage it.

Time Blindness

One of the critical aspects of the difficulty with time management in ADHD is "time blindness." This term explains the trouble some adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have with perceiving time accurately. Unlike most people, who can roughly gauge how long a task will take, adults with ADHD often lose track of time. This time perception challenge makes it hard for them to manage daily tasks like household chores or even arriving early for appointments. 

Time blindness is not just about being chronically late or missing deadlines. It also has an impact on long-term planning. This could be why many young adults with ADHD find it difficult to envision their future clearly, affecting decisions about education, careers, and relationships. 😵‍

Understanding that this is one of the many ADHD symptoms can significantly affect how it's managed. Researchers often link this time perception issue to deficits in executive functions, although the exact mechanism is still under investigation.

when you're late because of your lack of time awareness

Impulse Control & Distractions

Another factor that contributes to issues with being on time in adults with ADHD is impulse control. Imagine this: You've allocated time to complete a task but suddenly get a text message on your cell phone. 📲While waiting to complete the task, the temptation to check the message becomes overpowering. Before you know it, you're off track. For most adults, the occasional distraction is manageable. However, for adults with ADHD, distractions can quickly become a significant hurdle to getting things done on time.

This struggle extends beyond simple distractions. Many people with ADHD have difficulty prioritizing tasks and sticking to a schedule. The tendency to jump from one task to another without completing any can disrupt planning and lead to chronic tardiness. 🏃 This, in turn, can have detrimental effects on relationships and even career progress. It's not uncommon for adults with ADHD to notice their friends waiting frustratedly for them or to miss important work deadlines.

when you're late because you answered impusively


Forgetfulness is another symptom frequently associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and it plays a significant role in making those with ADHD late or even causing them to miss appointments entirely. 📅 For example, you may set a first alarm to wake up early and make it to an important event but then forget to turn it on. Or, you might make a mental note to leave by a specific time but forget when the moment comes. 😬

The impact of forgetfulness isn't just limited to lateness; it can stretch into tasks like failing to remember household chores or even forgetting to return phone calls. These lapses can have a considerable impact on both personal and professional relationships. Let's face it; no one likes to wait. In a society that values punctuality, forgetfulness can add a layer of difficulty to the lives of people with ADHD. 🥺

Visualize your ADHD traits!

Take our fun online quiz to visualize your ADHD traits and learn more about your brain!


Masking: How We Compensate for Chronic Lateness 

In adult ADHD, masking has a unique meaning. It refers to the techniques and habits people with ADHD adopt to cover up or mask their difficulties with tasks like punctuality. 🎭

These methods can vary from person to person. Still, the end goal is usually the same - avoiding the stigma and challenges of chronic lateness.

Ways People with ADHD Mask Their Challenges 

Creative Excuses

One standard method is to come up with imaginative reasons for being late, or twisting the truth to soften the blow of being late. For example, sending a message that you're "just around the corner" when, in fact, you still have some distance to cover. 😬

Internal Rationalizations

This often includes thoughts like "It's fine, they won't start without me" or "I'll make up for it later."

Task Shuffling

Some people with ADHD may distract themselves by doing additional tasks while getting ready, thinking that multi-tasking will make up for lost time.

when you're late because you got distracted

Pros and Cons of Masking 


✅Temporary Relief

Masking offers a short-term solution that makes you feel better. This can be especially important if you're also dealing with depression or anxiety.

✅ Maintains Friendships

Your friends might be more forgiving if they think your lateness was due to unforeseen circumstances.


❌Not a Permanent Fix

Masking is a habit that offers temporary relief but doesn't fix the root of the problem. In the long run, it can be counterproductive.

❌Friendship Strain

Even if masking tactics keep your friends from getting angry in the short term, chronic lateness can eventually strain or even end friendships.

So, what can be done to break this habit? One starting point is to employ specific tips designed to tackle the root causes of lateness in ADHD. 

By using some handy ADHD hacks instead of relying on masking techniques, people with ADHD can slowly but surely improve their punctuality without fabrications or excuses. 👍

when you're early because you were afraid to be late...

Practical Tips for Time Management

Improving time management skills is crucial for anyone, but it becomes especially vital for adults with ADHD. ⬇️

Plan It Out

One simple but effective strategy is to start with the end goal. For instance, don't just consider the travel time if you have an appointment. Start with the time you need to be there and work backward. Factor in extra time for things that might slow you down, like traffic, and you're more likely to leave early and arrive on time. 

Utilizing tools like Google Maps 📍can provide a more realistic time frame for travel, helping to keep you on schedule. You could also try 'time blocking' to help you leave on schedule; for example, deciding when you need to start getting ready and 'buffering' in extra time so that you're not rushing to leave the house.

Use a Visual Cue

Visual cues, like using a sticky note or analog clocks, can also be helpful. An analog clock ⏰provides a more tangible sense of time passing than a digital one, which could make it easier to track time effectively. 

Set Reminders

Other practical techniques include setting a second alarm to remind you when you need to leave the house or even using phone apps to assist with time management for people with ADHD diagnoses. 🔊

By incorporating these tips and understanding the underlying symptoms and challenges, you can take meaningful steps to manage your time better, improve your relationships, and, ultimately, enhance your quality of life.

when you're late because you forgot your appointment


For those of us with adult ADHD, chronic lateness can be a significant but often overlooked issue. From time blindness to practical management strategies like habit formation and setting alarms, we've covered a lot of ground. We've also delved into the emotional aspects like masking, which many use as a band-aid solution to manage the symptoms of ADHD.

Improving our punctuality and time management requires consistent effort, but it's entirely possible. It takes self-awareness and the commitment to changing these deeply ingrained traits. Still, many people with ADHD can find ways to incorporate small changes into their lives that can make a huge difference. It may feel uncomfortable at first, especially when we have spent most of our lives being behind schedule and leaving things to the last minute - but over time, you will see its positive benefits and, hopefully, make it a long-lasting habit.

Start your ADHD diagnosis journey!

Visualize and assess 25 ADHD traits and understand how they affect your life.

Learn more

ADHD and Being Late: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is being late a symptom of ADHD?

Yes, chronic lateness can often be a symptom of ADHD. People with ADHD can struggle with time management, which makes it challenging to be punctual. It's not an issue of not caring about time or other people's time but more about how the ADHD brain perceives and manages time.

Are people with ADHD late a lot?

While it's not universally true for everyone with ADHD, many find that they often run late. The executive functions in the brain responsible for planning and time management are usually less effective in people with ADHD, which can result in frequent lateness and a phenomenon called time blindness.

How do you fix ADHD lateness?

Addressing lateness when you have ADHD needs a multi-faceted approach. Utilizing electronic reminders, setting multiple alarms, and even using specialized ADHD coaching or cognitive behavioral therapy can help. Medication may also assist in improving focus and time management skills. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all solution; it often takes a combination of strategies to improve punctuality.

Share this article on Social Media

Help us raise awareness around ADHD, let's spread ADHD love and support to all that need it.

If you liked this article you are going to like these ones:

Check out more content about similar topics: