Is Your Impatience Actually Time-Blindness

man experiencing confusion when looking at a clock

“I’m so impatient!” is how the conversation started. She had thought this way about herself for years, and others reinforced this thinking. But the problem wasn’t impatience.

We all experience impatience, not usually to the degree experienced by folks with ADHD or other forms of Neurodivergence (ND). But did you know there are different types of impatience? Yep, it’s not just about being restless or in a hurry! There’s impatience due to problems with delayed gratification, and then there’s impatience due to time-blindness.

Common factors that drive impatience include:

1. Expectations: Believing things should happen quickly or as planned.

   Example:
Getting frustrated when a meeting starts late, disrupting your
   carefully planned schedule.

 

2. Perfectionism: Needing everything to be perfect and efficient.

    Example:
Feeling impatient when a project takes longer because you keep 
    changing things.

3. Urgency: Believing time is being wasted if you aren’t working on something.

    Example:
Feeling restless while waiting in line, thinking it’s a waste of precious time.

4. Control: Needing control over situations.

    Example:
Becoming impatient when a flight is delayed, or when you keep running 
    into red lights.

5. Frustration: Intolerance for frustration (things not going smoothly) or 
    inconvenience.


   Example:
Feeling impatient when internet speeds are slow, disrupting your flow. I SO
   get this!

6. Competitiveness: Needing to be first or at least in the lead.

    Example:
Feeling impatient with a group decision-making process that doesn’t 
    move fast enough for you.

7. Conditioning: Expecting instant responses.

    Example:
Becoming impatient when a website takes more than a few seconds to 
    load, or when you have to wait on hold, or someone doesn’t respond to your text
    immediately.

8. Overcommitment: Associating busyness with success or productivity.

    Example:
Feeling overwhelmed when unexpected tasks arise and being unable to 
    say “No” or delegate.

9. Anxiety and Stress: Feeling incapable and overwhelmed by everyone’s 
    expectations.


    Example:
Becoming impatient with colleagues for not meeting high standards set by
    management, or with classmates for chatting instead of working.

10. Empathy: Believing your time or needs are more important.

      Example:
Feeling impatient in a restaurant when service is slower than you’d like.
      I’ve seen someone act out under these circumstances. It’s wildly uncomfortable.

11. Culture: A cultural emphasis on speed and efficiency.

      Example:
Experiencing impatience in a slower-paced business environment when 
      working with cultures that emphasize speed and efficiency, like Japanese and
      German cultures.

12. Insecurity: Insecurity leading to a need for quick wins with low risk.

      Example:
Feeling impatient when you receive feedback on a task, as you tie it to 
      your sense of worth.


Drum roll, please:
Time-blindness, on the other hand, is a flavor all its own. Time-blindness refers to difficulty perceiving time and experiencing the passing of time, like managing a schedule. This is often found in folks with ADHD (myself included) and other forms of ND.

Unlike the impatience that can stem from the factors listed previously, time-blindness is more about a cognitive difference in how time is understood and experienced.

People with time-blindness may struggle with estimating how long tasks will take, remembering deadlines, or feeling the passage of time accurately. This can lead to impatience, but it’s rooted in a different cause: a neurological or cognitive challenge in processing time-related information.

In many cases, time only feels present. “Later” may as well be “never.” So, if it doesn’t happen now, it may never happen at all.

Helping my clients understand their relationship with time and how to strategize so the problem isn’t so disabling is life-changing.


The bottom line:
The previous examples are driven more by external factors or internal emotional states than anything neurological. For example, impatience due to expectations or perfectionism is about how we want things to be, while time-blindness is about a fundamental difficulty in perceiving and managing time itself.

Self-awareness and strategies to compensate for time-blindness are critical when you want to be included in a world of appointments, meetings, and deadlines. This doesn’t mean you’ll never be late again, but it decreases the likelihood it’ll happen.

How do you manage your time?

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