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The Tyranny of Now and Not Now

(Photo: Spinning, spinning, getting nowhere. Me and the Mad Tea Party, Disneyland.)

I’m willing to bet money the Mad Hatter had Attention Deficit Disorder. Anyone who’s eternally “late for a very important date” definitely has issues with time management, one of the major symptoms of ADD.

It’s very often said that ADDers have only two concepts of time: Now; and Not Now. Everything pressing needs done now. Anything unimportant gets filed under not now–which, for a person with ADD, often means never.

When your neurological wiring makes you obsessed with the present moment, it’s awfully hard to conceive of the flow of time, from past to present to future. And if you can’t conceive of time, you can’t mange it either.

Boy, can that make life a pain in the ass.

But it’s a good explanation for why I always want to do everything, well, now. Not in a few minutes. Not tomorrow. Not next week (God forbid, how will I ever remember anything that far in advance?) But this very, certain, absolute, right now, can’t come soon enough second.

For example, at this very moment, I want to:

–See my boyfriend;
–Go to the Botanic Garden;
–Draft my consulting collaterals;
–Go shopping at the Brown Elephant;
–Visit the Oriental Institute; and
–Eat another cookie or three.

Oh, where to start. Meanwhile, whatever I do start runs the persistent risk of falling out of the present moment and into the nether realm of not now, that far-away land that lives at the periphery of my attention span populated by broken plans and governed by Emperor Procrastination.

I send visitors there so frequently, I should get a travel agent commission, or at least a nice basket of fruit that I can misplace.

I mean, it’s hard enough for me to pin myself down to make plans with others and follow through, or stay on task. But God forbid I see something shiny on my way out the door or remember some other unfinished task that triggers my distractibility (another of the annoying hallmarks of ADD). Then, like magic, my new momentary obsession takes up residence in my right now and sends my formerly pressing plans on a one-way trip to later if ever.

Probably never. Unless I remember. Could be a strong maybe if I actually wrote it down before I forgot.

Terrible time management certainly makes life interesting with an ADDer. Honestly, sometimes you never know whether we’re coming or going. (Mind you, nor do we, sometimes). But it can also drive our loved ones absolutely. Up. A. Wall.

The best advice for friends and family of time-challenged ADDers that I’ve found so far comes from the blog of a spouse of a fellow ADDer: do what you want, don’t worry about your ADD loved one–you’ll cross paths when it really matters.

In other words, I’m eating those cookies, blogging pushed out my collaterals again, I wonder when the Brown Elephant closes on a Sunday, the Oriental Institute is gonna close if I don’t leave now, maybe I won’t, wait do I still have time to run to Hyde Park anyway since I also want to go to Powell’s, what am I making for dinner, God it’s gonna take forever to run up to Trader Joe’s, wait maybe it won’t. I don’t know. (Notice how the list morphed?)

I’m exhausted.

Chris will still be there when I’m done. As you might imagine, he’s resting right now.

Categories: ADHD

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Mike Doyle

I’m an #OpenlyAutistic gay, Hispanic, urbanist, Disney World fan, New York native, politically independent, Jewish blogger in Chicago. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I write words and raise money for nonprofits. I’ve written this blog since 2005. And counting...

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4 replies

  1. Ode to Sopa à Alentejana

    (Photo: Can I have some soup with my garlic, please? Credit: Glória Fácil.) As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on nowness, indeed, I did go shopping for dinner, after all. If there’s anything I regret about my move to…

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