For AuDHDers and many other neurodivergent people, there is a unique relationship between time and energy. So when someone asks us, “How long do you think you’ll need to finish up X?” Sometimes we stall out in answering because we must factor in the amount of energy it will take to complete a task and that will determine the time it takes.
And we cannot always predict where our energy readings will be on a given day.*
At a time when a person has full energy reserves, they may be able to breeze through the task quickly. At other times when the energy reserve is on or close to empty, that same task can take an excruciating amount of time. When I speak of energy here, it isn’t just physical energy, but social-emotional-mental energy as well factors into the equation.
An example from my lived-experience, determining how long it will take to complete a task can be challenging because at times, that particular task took very little time and effort to complete because I was “in the zone” and yet at other times if I am required to do a particular task and I am not “in the zone,” the same task can take exponentially longer to accomplish.
So there are variables to consider when estimating how long a project will take to complete. And when we are discussing neurobiological differences like AuDHD, it’s vital that people understand that being in the “zone” or not has to do with the neurological structure & functioning of the AuDHD brain and is not a matter of will that someone can override with “mind over matter” thinking.
Because energy and time are linked together, it is not simply a matter of AuDHDers implementing time management tools. Certainly, things like visual timers and clocks, alarms and schedule reminders, and transitional prompts can be helpful and also, this is where having access to accommodations and compassionate understanding from loved-ones, employers, and friends is vital for an AuDHDer to thrive.
A significant component of accommodations and accessibility that is not widely discussed or understood is the reality that AuDHD people are neurobiologically unable to perform at the same level, throughout the day, every single day.
This does not make us unreliable; it means that we need greater flexibility and accommodation around our unique ebbs and flows of work time and energy.
*When a person experiences varying ability due to illness, injury, or disability, that is referred to as a “dynamic disability.” Often mistaken for “faking” it must be recognized and respected that a person’s limits and capacity vary and are contingent upon a vast array of circumstances. In short, when a person shares their capacity or limits, trust them to know their own body and mind.
How do you experience the Time-Energy Paradox?
Could you use some help in strategizing your schedule, tasks, and down-time in order to honor your own Time-Energy Paradox?
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