ADD/ADHD and TIME: will ANYthing work?

Time Management Tips and Tricks

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART ONE of two: In support of The Challenges Inventory™ Series

Like I said in an older article, “Listening for Time Troubles – struggles with time and follow through,” a great many ADDers have trouble with T-I-M-E.

• We run out of it
• We are continually surprised by it, and
• More than a few times we seem to be completely unaware of it.

All ADD Coaches worthy of the term must remain aware that Listening For and Languaging to your clients’ awareness of time, and their relationship to time (oh yes, my friends, they most certainly DO have one) almost always involves some serious sleuthing on the part of the coach!

However . . .

Lest I be accused of keeping all the good stuff for the carriage trade (remaining mindful of the need to avoid joining the “Ten Time Tips that will Pay your Mortgage and put hair on your grandfather’s chest” crowd), I’m going to share five underlying principles that I listen for and try to language to my clients and students.

I’ll even tell YOU what I tell them 5 System Basics – but few clients ever really hear me the first couple dozen times, so don’t be too surprised when some of these basics float right past you too.

Let ’em simmer in your brain’s slow-cooker — as long as you don’t actively resist, fighting the ideas or ruminating over the thoughts that yet ANOTHER person simply doesn’t get it, you will be one step closer to getting a handle on this time thing.

Even when you’re desperate, change is just flat-out HARD!


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.


If you read more than a few articles here on, you will begin suspect that I’m not particularly fond of tips and tricks — and you’ll be absolutely right about that.

Why not?

For the most part, they don’t work.

The neurotypical advice almost always scratches where it doesn’t itch. The reasons they don’t do things are seldom the reasons we don’t.

And then they fire the “resistance” salvo our way — and we fight the urge to do something that will send us to prison for life as they sing another rousing chorus of the “you’re-not-really-trying” hymn of the republic.

Even most of the ADD/EFD-flavored tips and tricks miss as many flavors of ADD/EFD as they catch. It is simply impossible for anybody to write a book that handles all situations for all people – at least not a book anyone could lift. I know. I’ve tried. (Why do you think my articles are so darned long, linked to so many others to cover each individual point in yet another long post?)

So, for the most part, most of the tips and tricks books don’t really work for a great many of us.

WHEN they don’t work, it shuts us down.

We self-flagellate (then ruminate endlessly)

  • Didn’t I do this right, or am I missing a key point — AGAIN?
  • Everybody thinks I just don’t want to succeed, and that’s just not true!
  • Will I ever get a clue?
  • What’s wrong with me?
  • NOW what am I going to do?

We get defensive (then go on the offensive)

  • This book got great reviews, how was I supposed to know it was crap?
  • I work a full-time job and have primary responsibility for 3 kids: meals, laundry, school activities, sick days — how am I supposed to squeeze all these lists and things into my day? Who is this written for – ladies who lunch?
  • Yada, yada, yada, YADA!

Ultimately, we come back to where we started, concluding that “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” management is the most we can ever hope for – until the next time, that is, that things get SO unmanageable that we fall prey to yet another tips and tricks ploy.

Can you tell I’ve been there?

I finally figured out WHY all those tips and tricks didn’t work for me: they weren’t written for ME,
they were a
compilation of items that worked for the author (who was, very likely, NOTHING like me!).  [See Why Tips and Tricks Fail for more]

Once I learned that the root of my chronic disorganization had a NAME, and began to look at everything through The ADD Lens things began, ever so slowly, to come under my control. Simply having a diagnosis shifted my shifted my expectations.

As I said in an earlier article: until we believe we can, we can’t!! 

“How many times can we keep trying until we decide it’s impossible?

It’s a coach’s job to avoid sending their ADD/EFDers off to tilt at windmills. That means, you absolutely must DETERMINE THE CAUSE before you begin to work on solutions.

How much sense does THAT make!!”

But what do you do if you don’t HAVE a coach?

Do whatever you can to remedy that sad situation.  You simply must.

Dr. Edward Hallowell has been quoted many times saying that, “[ADD] Coaching is the single most effective tool for ADD self-management” FOR A REASON!

Coaching may well be “optional” for many, but those of us with “alphabet disorders” (ADD, EFT, TBI, PTSD, OCD, etc.) need the externalization of our prefrontal cortex activities as much as a sailboat needs ballast to keep it from tipping over in the first substantial gust of wind.

And not just any coach – a comprehensively trained, brain-based ADD coach — a coach who has been trained to listen for EFD issues, and understands how to coach them!

Don’t “cheap out” on yourSelf
(and don’t let money be a stopper)

  • If you can’t afford the fees that professional coaches charge, ask about the possibility of a reduced rate. Many of us maintain a few sliding-scale slots, simply because we KNOW how important that external PFC support can be.
  • If you can’t afford even the low rates that many of us slide to, apply for coaching with a student, mentored through an coaching intern program — or go for Group Coaching.
  • If even that is beyond your budget, check out, sign up or get on the waiting list for my next really-low-fee PEER Coaching Basic Training. (click here for information)  Start looking around for a buddy who’s in the same situation — the two of you can trade accountability coaching forevermore. (You don’t even need to take the class, by the way, but it does help increase the effectiveness of what you do together quite a bit).


Coming up are some essential concepts that need to be in place before you stand a prayer of a chance — really!  

Don’t beat yourself up about that reality, use it as a lever to adjust your expectations appropriately, and to help you to figure out where you need to concentrate your
time and effort ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible).

Trying to systematize a life without the basics is like trying to
to start a car that’s out of gas.

  • Agonizing isn’t going to make a bit of difference.
  • Neither will “voting” – you may not like the idea, they may not like the idea. Sorry Charlie, it is simply what’s so
  • Hearing what a doofus you’ve been for not focusing on that little gas detail (especially hearing it internally) will shut you down and delay you further.
  • Go for the gas.

Like a mantra: essential concepts need to be accepted – with systems and work-arounds in place – before you stand a prayer of a chance.

Working effectively within the boundaries of time is an exercise in systematizing.

  • There are a lot of pieces to that systematizing concept.
  • “Pieces” require juggling, cognitively.
  • Cognitive juggling is highly PFC intensive [prefrontal cortex]
  • Guess where the ADD/EFD/TBI/PTSD
  • brain is most impaired?  YOU GOT IT – the PFC.
  • Don’t make it harder than it is already – make friends with the upcoming concepts.


The upcoming five concepts that will begin to put some gas in your car are simply that: FUEL.

Until you make sure your “car” has fuel, you can’t do much about checking to see if the starter needs fixing.  You may also learn you need to adjust the steering mechanism.  Oh yeah, and you certainly won’t get very far on lousy tires.

  • You don’t expect your car to magically transform with a little gas, do you?
  • How about a whole tank full of gas?
  • How about gas and four new tires?

Yeah, right!

Try to remember that the next time the beatings begin, as well as when you feel defensive and become offensive.

You can’t eat an elephant in a day — EVEN if you take tiny bites.

In Part Two of this article, we’ll talk details about those Five Systems Basics.  Scroll down for other related articles here and elsewhere.

Graphics gratitude:  Stopwatch Guy & Gas Pump from
 ADD Coach Success Systems: Marty Crouch: Webvalance Internet Partners
Convertable/bad exhaust from webweaver

As always, if you want notification of new articles – in a particular series or category, or any new posts on this blog – give your name and email to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right.  (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too) STRICT No Spam Policy

If you’d like some one-on-one (or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this article (either for your own life, that of a loved one, or as coaching skills development), click the E-me link  <—here (or on the menubar at the top of every page) and I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Related Content on

You might also be interested in some of the following Coaching Skills and Practical Application articles

For links to still more: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links (subtle, so they don’t distract you) will turn dark red; AND check out the links to Related Content in each of the articles below

Related articles around the ‘net

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

18 Responses to ADD/ADHD and TIME: will ANYthing work?

  1. Pingback: 5 Tips for better Executive Functioning – Part 1 | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. Pingback: Executive Functions & YOU | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  3. Pingback: Almost here: Group Coaching | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  4. Pingback: Whose Daylight were they Saving? | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  5. Pingback: Attentional struggles? Not ME! | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  6. Pingback: Attentional struggles? Not ME! | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  7. Pingback: Productivity: Paying Attention on Purpose | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  8. Pingback: Why Accountability Leads to Follow-through | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  9. Pingback: Executive Functioning Disorders – not just kid stuff | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  10. Pingback: Frames and reframes on Pinterest | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  11. William Derek Updegraff, Sr. says:


    Your target audience — like me — has “ADD”/ADHD. And yet, your well-intentioned and otherwise valuable website uses every font size possible. The text within 3 inches above and below where I’ve typed this is in 6 different fonts. Plus you’ve disabled the “signal feature” of the web — the blue, underlined Uniform Resource Locator (or URL) highlighting convention for web links — by making them effectively i n v i s i b l e. How do you like it when someone changes the basic rules you’ve functioned under just so they can be clever? I was a web guru for a Congressional agency for 15 years, and I learned that “ATTENTION MANAGEMENT” is the single most powerful feature of the web — itself the most important cognitive and cultural advance since the printing press. “Use the Force, Luke!”

    “The oldest pathway for which the brain is hard-wired is the narrative.” John Seely Brown, quoted in the “Idees Fortes” section of “Wired” (3/1996) Here, my advice is to re-enable the standard web links and then use the “mouseover” to box-in a clear and focused narrative of why each link is worthy of your readers’ attention. You’ve already made the decision that the links are so valuable that you’ve given them scarce space on your website — TELL THE READER SO THEY CAN MAKE A CHOICE.

    Finally, since the web (not the ‘net) is all about attention management and since you aspire to “coach” the sufferers of a serious disease that shatters their ability to focus, your website should — at the least — “do no harm.” Simplify your “look and feel” and use the inherent power of the web to help us focus on the valuable knowledge you provide.

    Best regards,
    William Derek Updegraff, Sr.


    • William Derek Updegraff, Sr. says:

      . . . Regardless of my “look-and-feel” critique, your site does a great service. Keep up the great work!

      WDU, Sr.


    • Dear William,

      I hear your frustration! I get the “attention management” concept more than you know.

      Some of my choices are intentional, based on my experience with thousands of ADDers who struggle with reading, with original and ongoing feedback. (Still, nothing works for everyone, especially in ADD-land).

      However, I am thinking that what you object to so vehemently may possibly be part of an ongoing problem the WordPress team and I can’t seem to solve, despite many, many hours of [unbillable] time wasted on the endeavor. It would be helpful to know if what you object to is personal preference or yet another example of an ongoing problem.

      What I type does not remain “stable,” meaning that items, including graphics, “resize” on their own, paragraph spacing changes, headers change formatting, spaces between words disappear and words run together – regardless of what I attempt.

      Like a bubble under plastic, I can move it, but I can’t get rid of it. Eventually I run out of time and must choose to post or abandon the article. Confined to, the effects seem random and unpredictable — extremely difficult to reproduce at will to allow us to find and fix the problem(s).

      Would you be willing to send me a screen snap of what you are seeing? Also, please include your computer, operating system, browser and version. (For example: Mac OSX 10.6.8 – Safari 5.1.7) I will send you a message from my private email so that you are ABLE to send a snap, etc.

      (Sorry, ALL – spambots have made it impossible to post my contacts on the site – although the “e-Me” form — far right choice on the top, darker menubar — allows anyone to send me enough information that I can get in touch with YOU. It is my understanding that former problems with the form have now been resolved).

      I have been working with WordPress for some time now on this bizarre “formatting problem” – almost an entire working day this weekend alone *following* an entire working day handling other accountabilities — attempting to post two articles, already in draft.

      In the wee hours of the AM, it seemed that I was finally able to work around the problems, albeit only with Part 2 of “Time.” I crawled into bed as the sun was rising, returned on awakening — on a Sunday, following a 76-hour work-week, MOST unbillable — to put in more time still. The first thing I see is your comment. Bummer!

      Not only am I exhausted, discouraged and demoralized, I cannot afford to continue to dedicate the number of hours I now must spend, attempting to share 25 years of content and experience – for free – with others who are struggling.

      If I can’t solve the problem VERY soon, I may well take it as a sign to abandon this endeavor and spend the remaining minutes of my life on items designed to directly benefit MY life.

      Although I DO understand your frustration, the tone of your comment was hurtful and undeserved (Distinction: request vs. complaint). Still, I DO appreciate the feedback.



  12. Great article! So thankful that I have found your site, be prepared for several ping backs.


    • Welcome! I’m glad you found me too! I’m into sharing the wealth, so if you write anything that relates to anything I post, leave a quick comment with a link to your article in the comments section.

      Akismet may well spam your link – I will approve it EVENTUALLY if I see it 😀 – I do try to make time to go through all the spam before deleting, but sometimes the spam trash gets too full and deletes itself. A quicker way is to put the article title in the comment with a “non-clicking” link – then I can put it “live” INTO the article itself or to type the ENTIRE link into the space for your URL above the comment box itself.

      Pleased to meet’cha!


  13. Excellent posting Madelyn! So amazing that the two most important considerations of ADHD – Time and Context – which directly relate to efficient prefrontal cortical function, are so often completely ignored whilst fretting about diagnostic appearances. And then. from a treatment point of view, appearances for the most part don’t change intervention strategies. Interesting!


    • AND, as you continue to imply on CorePsych, if the body’s not metabolizing right, the brain’s not working right! (your new site design is GREAT, btw)

      I encourage anyone reading this blog who is not already reading Dr. Charles Parker to check him out and go get on his list. (He’s one of the most knowledgeable ADD Docs around, and VERY generous with his time and knowledge. You’ll find stuff there you won’t see *anywhere* else on the web.)


And what do YOU think? I'm interested.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: