Problem: You are constantly late for everything.
Solution: Include a time buffer in everything, which I call “The Explosive Diarrhea Buffer.”
Let’s say you have to drive from Charlotte, NC to Raleigh, NC. You are due to where ever you are going at 6pm. You know that it takes about 3.5 – 4 hours to make the drive, assuming you don’t speed and construction is minimal. What time should you leave? Would 2pm sound like a reasonable answer given all the info? It’s probably a safe bet for an ADHD person to answer around 2pm.
Now…let’s say all the other information is the same, however, you woke up with crippling, explosive diarrhea. You must find a bathroom every 15 minutes, and you start to wonder how many stops this road trip will now require. If you have to find a rest stop every 15 minutes, now how long will that drive take? Now what time would you leave? 12pm? 11am? Either of those should give you plenty of pit-stop time, depending on the severity of your stomach distress and bathroom spacing along your route. For extra credit, imagine instead you are traveling with your recently toilet-trained 3 year old nephew. How many pit-stops do you need now?
Consider it “Time Insurance.” You have car insurance (assuming you own a car). You probably have health insurance of some sort. You might even (and should, if you don’t) have life insurance. Yet those are all to cover hopefully rare events. While crippling, explosive diarrhea is (also hopefully) a rare event, it’s actually way more probable than dying outright or getting in a car wreck. Not purchasing Time Insurance for something more probable than death seems silly.
“But that’s a waste of time,” you might respond. “I’ll not have to stop 18 times, and I’ll end up in Raleigh 2 hours earlier than necessary.” That’s OK. Raleigh isn’t closed. You can find a Starbucks, or even a parking lot somewhere to plant yourself with your smart phone, the Kindle App, or Audible, or bring a real book, Duolingo, Sudoku, puzzles, whatever. That’s not wasted time if you always keep book or some other opportunity for learning with you. Or God-Forbid, talk to your friends or family that came along with you. Building relationships isn’t wasted time, either. Further, you don’t consider the car insurance premiums you pay out all year long to be wasted, yet you haven’t gotten into a wreck in 20 years. Time and money are both resources. You can’t eagerly exchange money for protection, but not be willing to see the value of exchanging time for protection.
So, apply this to anything that is time bound. Essay due in three weeks? What if you get the stomach flu at the beginning of the third week? Plan accordingly and put a buffer in your schedule, starting now. When you are scheduled to study, and you think, “Man, I don’t feel like studying. This paper isn’t due for another three weeks, anyway! Netflix sounds really good right now…” Recognize you are in the midst of a micro-choice. At that VERY moment, picture a week of explosive diarrhea keeping you away from the keyboard (cause please don’t be the guy that brings his laptop into the bathroom…). Picture having to tell the professor, “I had a week of explosive diarrhea, can I have an extension?” Then do the hard thing, not the easy thing. Work on the paper.
Now, could I have substituted “Flat tire” for explosive diarrhea as an example of an unexpected disaster setting you back on your schedule? Sure. There are two reasons I didn’t. The first is that a flat time is a big, single-time setback. It might delay your road trip 2 hours, but it’s all at once. It doesn’t progressively eat away at your schedule like a thousand potty breaks. That’s real life. Real life eats away at your goals in tiny little increments. Second, explosive diarrhea is memorable. It is vivid, both hilarious and cringe-worthy, and it affects everything from driving, to essays, to cleaning the garage, to you-name-it. A flat tire interferes only with anything relating to driving. It sticks out in your memory, it’s relatable, and it applies to many more real-life scenarios. Now that explosive diarrhea is seared into your memory, you will allocated time insurance for all your tasks, and when facing the micro-choice to do or not do the task, you will be able to easily recall this to motivate you to do the thing you are avoiding. You’re welcome, AND I’m sorry.