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Hey there! As someone with ADHD, time management has always been a huge challenge for me. I love checking things off my to-do list and feeling productive, but actually getting things done is really hard. And it’s not just a matter of distraction – there’s a deeper issue at play called temporal discounting.
What is temporal discounting?
Temporal discounting is when we discount the value of something just because it’s in the future and not “now”. For those of us with ADHD, this can be a really big problem. Our brains are so focused on the present moment that it’s hard to imagine or feel the weight of our future selves or experiences. We tend to have a “Now or Not Now” perception of time, which means we don’t think about the future.
How does temporal discounting impact ADHD?
Temporal discounting makes it difficult to prioritize responsibilities and tasks. It’s hard to focus on things that don’t seem important right now, even if they’re crucial to our future success. This can be especially problematic for people with ADHD because we tend to have faulty executive function – our brains are really fast, but have faulty brakes. It’s up to us to be prepared to outsmart our faulty brakes and set up our lives in a way that relies as little as possible on them.
Dealing with temporal discounting
So, how do we begin to address temporal discounting? It all starts with mindfulness. We need to be mindful of what areas of our lives we’re temporally discounting, such as money, health, or relationships. We need to put ourselves in the shoes of our future selves and really think about what that version of ourselves will be forced to deal with if we don’t make changes now.
One of the most important things we can do is to externalize our environment. This means setting up obnoxiously loud reminders that we won’t ignore and tracking how long tasks take. If we don’t know how long something takes, we can’t possibly plan our day accordingly. It’s also important to be mindful of our money decisions and how they may impact us in the future.
We can also use different modalities to connect with our future selves. If we’re verbal processors, we can record a message to ourselves as though it’s our future us. We can also do this visually, like making a future self vision board or a life movie. If writing is our jam, we can journal our hearts out and write ourselves notes from our future self.
Overcoming temporal discounting
The more we can viscerally feel into our future selves, the closer we will be to that person and it will make decisions easier to make today. It’s all about making better decisions that will benefit our future selves, but also our today selves. It’s not about being miserable for the next 20 years so our future selves can enjoy life, or being completely financially irresponsible and YOLO-ing all our money away. It’s about finding a balance that works for us.
Ultimately, dealing with temporal discounting is about accepting that our brains are really fast, but have faulty brakes. We need to be prepared to outsmart our faulty brakes no matter what. And most importantly, we need to be kind to ourselves throughout the process. Change takes time, and we need to celebrate our successes and learn from our mistakes. By practicing self-compassion and self-care, we can improve our ability to manage our time effectively and build a brighter future for ourselves.
How do you struggle temporal discounting?
What do you want to change and why? Put yourself into the shoes of your future self and really think about what that person will be forced to deal with if you don’t make changes now. By developing the same level of care and tenderness for ourselves that we have for those we love, we can set ourselves up for success.