School is out! [Insert victory dance here!] Fun and relaxing summer days lie ahead. They’re brimming with possibilities like the water bubbling behind a jet ski, propelling you toward leisure! Long days where the seconds seem to slowly saunter by as you lazily lie on your couch or on the beach likely sound wonderful to you right now, after a school year’s worth of hard work!
While certain summer days seem to last forever, at the end of every summer, it often feels like the season went by in the blink of an eye. Summer is a strange paradox that seems perpetual, yet fleeting. Time seems to work differently for us in this season, during which we go on vacation, get a reprieve from college coursework or jobs, and take a pause from our typical routine.
Remember the year 2020…well, maybe you’d rather NOT remember it, but think back to it for a quick moment. We’ve all experienced a distorted view of time similar to the above over the course of the last fifteen months. Whether we’ve felt time has gone by extremely slowly, quite quickly, or a bizarre blending of the two, one thing’s for sure: The passage of time has sure felt different this past year.
There’s an expression for this distortion of time that we have experienced during COVID and that we experience during the summer: Time blindness.
Time Blindness, Defined
When it comes to time, we humans typically have a built-in recognition system. We’re able to sense time marching forward and determine how many steps it has taken (or how many minutes have passed) since a certain point (Read, 2020).
Yet, there are barriers to us being able to see time accurately. This struggle to correctly assess the progression of time is known as time blindness. Dr. Ari Tuckman, a Pennsylvania-based psychologist who focuses on ADHD, notes that any kind of force that influences how we make sense of the world plays a role in time blindness. Examples include having ADHD, experiencing mental health challenges, not getting enough sleep, or being under the influence of alcohol, but they can also include a lack of time signals (Read, 2020).
During the past year in lockdown, many of us have worked remotely and completed our coursework virtually. Consequently, we have also had more limited contact with our social circles. We haven’t had to get in the car at our usual time to commute to work. We haven’t been able to attend our regular in-person study sessions with our group of friends. Furthermore, we haven’t had the ability to gather with family for birthdays, holidays, and other occasions. As a result, we’ve experienced fewer signals telling us that time has been going by—leading us to feel a warped sense of time. “It’s like driving through a haze where they’re [sic] just not as many distinct landmarks,” Dr. Ari Tuckman says (Read, 2020).
And the season of summer is similar. With no (or fewer) classes to attend (whether they be on Zoom or in-person), and a lack of coursework to complete, you as a student don’t have your usual time signals to keep you in a regular rhythm. While your time signals have already been marred since March 2020 due to COVID, summer and its even less-structured nature has the potential to make you even more time blind.
Additionally, time blindness involves the struggle to look beyond the current moment into the future and the struggle to retrospectively examine events (Harris, 2015). In his presentation “30 Essential Ideas You Should Know About ADHD,” Dr. Russell Barkley, author of the term “time blindness,” notes the following:
“ADHD creates a blindness to time, or technically, to be more accurate, a nearsightedness to the future. Just as people who are nearsighted can only read things close at hand, people with ADHD can only deal with things near in time. The further out the event lies, the less they are capable of dealing with it.”
-Dr. Russell Barkley(ADHD Videos, 2014)
While this “nearsightedness to the future” is commonly experienced by neurodiverse individuals, such as those with ADHD, many of us have experienced this phenomenon during the pandemic. With such uncertainty about what lies ahead with COVID and all of us simply trying to make it through each moment, we’ve struggled more with thoughtful preparation and planning for upcoming days.
How Owaves Can Help with Time Blindness
But there’s hope! Imagine looking back on your summer 2021 and feeling like you truly made the most of it. Imagine reflecting upon it and being satisfied that you had a great balance of activities in it, from leisure, exercise, and socialization to working on your professional and personal goals!
Owaves can be your ally in achieving this balanced summer! The app can help you reduce the time blindness that typically accompanies the season in the following ways.
1. Owaves Empowers You to Give Direction to Your Days
It’s easy to let summer days slip by like sand in an hourglass and let time escape your grasp, so that you’re not even sure what you did by summer’s end. In the quote below, Yogi Berra, the late legendary baseball player, suggests how essential it is to make a plan in order to reach a destination that brings you satisfaction.
With Owaves, you can carefully craft plans for your days using color-coded activity categories, icons or emojis, and customizable activity titles. Owaves empowers you to thoughtfully and creatively give direction to your days, so that you make each day count. Having a game plan for your day is one of the mechanisms for managing time blindness that pediatric occupational therapist Zara Harris suggests for adults with ADHD (2015). All of us who experience time blindness in the summer can apply this suggestion to our own lives.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
– Yogi Berra
2. Owaves Enables You to Precisely Plan Your Activities
During warm summer days, we may naturally feel less inclined to do activities that require a lot of effort. That’s understandable! It’s good to set aside ample time for rest in the summer after a school year’s worth of diligent work. Yet, if we sit around and do nothing all summer, chances are, we’ll feel mentally unwell as summer progresses.
Not only does the Owaves app empower you to make each of your summer days count by giving you the ability to map them out, but it also gives you the ability to get really precise with the activities you plan. If we dissect larger activities or goals into smaller, more manageable action steps, we’ll likely be able to maintain a better sense of motivation and accomplishment over the summer. Dr. Ari Tuckman notes that “break[ing] [your] final goal into small chunks, and start[ing] with the tiniest, easiest one” is a powerful tactic for managing time blindness and making tasks less intimidating (n.d.). Owaves allows you to plan activities that are as short as fifteen minutes, so that you can do just that.
3. Owaves Helps Make Time Visual
As mentioned above, Owaves allows you to use color-coded activity categories, icons or emojis, and customizable activity titles to plan your days. Also, it presents your day plan in the shape of a 24-hour clock and points to the current time block by way of an arrow. As a result, you can immediately see what activity you’re currently supposed to be doing. In short, it presents time signals to you in a visual way, like a traffic light presents traffic signals, thereby helping you visualize time and reduce time blindness. Making time visual is the key to becoming more conscious of its passage, according to Abby Chau, a marriage and family therapist who hails from Seattle, Washington and who has ADHD (2019).
By opening the app, or by adding the My Clock Widget to your phone and simply looking at this widget on your home screen, you can see your full day plan at-a-glance. This includes your past activities for the day, current activity, and upcoming activities. As the arrow pointing to your current activity makes its way around your “O” or day plan, you’ll be able to recognize time passing right before your eyes. Thus, you’ll be more compelled to truly make the most of it.
As an alternative, you can add an Owaves Focus Widget to your phone’s home screen instead. This widget shows your current activity, how much time remains of that activity, and your next activity. It allows you to still visualize time and your tasks, albeit in a simpler way that may be less overwhelming.
4. Owaves Notifications Further Help Keep You on Track
Moreover, Owaves lets you set alerts for individual activities. You can get notified 1 hour before an activity is supposed to start, 10 minutes before an activity is about to start, or right at the activity’s start time. These alerts help you remember when it’s time to switch tasks. This way, you do not spend excessive time on any one activity. And as a result, you can live in a balanced way during the summer (and beyond). In the words of Dr. Tuckman, “Alarms are a simple, effective tool to make you more aware of time. They break into your consciousness and jolt you out of whatever you’re doing” (n.d.).
Alarms also help ingrain into your brain the principle that certain time blocks in your day are for certain activities. Thus, with them, you can maintain more of a consistent routine during the summer.
5. Owaves Allows for Flexibility in Planning
We at Team Owaves get it—life doesn’t always go according to plan, and summer is for relaxation and spontaneity! In the My Clock section of the Owaves app, where you plan your day, you can move activities around. You can also delete activities and add new ones to easily adapt your day’s schedule to your circumstances.
Reduce Your Time Blindness with Owaves!
Time blindness, the struggle to accurately assess the progression of time and look beyond the present moment, is commonly experienced by those with ADHD, mental conditions, sleep deprivation, and more. Yet, it is something we have all experienced during the pandemic, as our time signals have been more sparse while we have lived socially distanced lives (Adhd Videos, 2014; Harris, 2015; Read, 2020). And it is something we experience like clockwork (pardon the pun!) every summer, when our typical school or work schedule is on hiatus.
The great news is that Owaves is here to help you see time more clearly. Gear up for a wonderful summer and make the most of it by planning your days in the Owaves app! Have a fantastic summer break, and happy planning!
Adhd Videos. (2014, August 21). 30 essential ideas you should know about ADHD, 5A ADHD is time blindness. [Video file]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmV8HQUuPEk&t=453s
Chau, A. (2019, October 29). Time blindness. The ADHD Manual. https://theadhdmanual.com/2019/10/29/time-blindness/
Harris, Z. (2015, October). Beating time blindness. CHADD’s Attention Magazine. https://chadd.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ATTN_10_15_BeatingTimeBlindness.pdf
Read, B. (2020, April 10). What is ‘time blindness’ and do you have it? The Cut. https://www.thecut.com/2020/04/coronavirus-self-isolation-time-blindness.html
Tuckman, A. (n.d.). Are you time blind? 12 ways to use every hour effectively. ADDitude Mag. https://www.additudemag.com/slideshows/stop-wasting-time/
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