My ADHD makes me always late…Help!!


Ask the coach: I’m always late!

Dear coach,

My boss just wrote me up for lateness.  I really want to get to work on time, but I just can’t seem to make it.  How do I make my boss understand I’m trying?
Better Late Than Never

Dear Late,

Yes, being chronically late can be a problem when you have ADHD.  Instead of focusing on getting your boss to understand why you are tardy, it’s more useful to consider ways to get yourself to work (and school) on time.  You can do it!  It just may take a little experimenting to find what works best for you.

There are three main reasons people with ADHD are usually late.

1.  Getting up late.

Yes, getting out of bed on time in the morning can be hard.  Especially if you are cutting your self short by falling asleep later at night than you should.  (For tips on how to get to sleep on time, see ADHD & Sleep.)  Here are a few things to try:

  • put your alarm clock across the room so you have to get up to turn it off.
  • use two alarm clocks, so you won’t be tempted by the snooze alarm.
  • set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than you think you need.  It may be that you are just underestimating how much time you need to get out of the house.

2.  Getting sidetracked

Do you jump out of bed with time to spare and still find that you are late out the door? Pay attention to what you are focusing on.

  • Keep a checklist of everything you need to do before leaving the house.  And don’t turn on the TV, phone or internet until you get these things accomplished.
  • If you take medication, take it first thing out of bed. That way it will start working before you leave the house.
  • Set reminder alarms to keep you on track.  Figure out how much time you need to dress, eat and get organized.  Then set alarms to remind you that you need to have that task completed.  Use your phone or buy one of those reminder watches so your alarms are always nearby.
  • Add in 5 or 10 minutes to your commute time so you have room for the unexpected.

3.  Being disorganized.

Do you walk out of the house only to realize you forgot your lunch or phone?  Do you spend needless minutes hunting around for your keys or shoes?

You need a “launch pad” by your exit door.  Set aside a special place near the door.  Collect all of the things you’ll need in the morning the night before.  If there are things like lunch that you’ll need to make in the morning, leave yourself a note at the launch pad, so you remember it in the morning.  Then at night, put everything there — keys, sunglasses, phone, purse, briefcase etc.  So they’ll be ready for you to grab as you run out the door.

You may have already tried all of these things, but are still late.  That’s where time with a coach can come in handy.  A coach can give you outside perspective about what’s not working and how to fine tune your routine to make it work for you.  ADHD and lateness often go hand-in-hand, but they don’t have to.  With a few simple tweaks to your routine, you can become a punctual person.

Do you have a question for the coach?  Send it to  We’ve love to hear from you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s