Blog Post | “Butts in Car” Time


“Butts in Car” Time


On my Google Calendar, you’ll find two times: the time of the event and the BUTTS IN CAR time (all caps are absolutely necessary).


Time can often be a magical concept for folks with ADHD. This addition to my calendar came about because I was noticing how the clock by the back door always seemed to be behind the time on my car’s dashboard. 

I’d see the time on the wall as I was getting ready to go, note it, walk to my car, and see that my car time was 10-15 minutes faster every time. What was happening? Did I walk extra slow? Had I secretly fallen into a black hole in our driveway? This was frustrating me to no end. 

Time to get curious. 

What I realized is that when I said “Okay, I’m heading out!” to myself or out loud to my partner I did not, in fact, “head out.” My corporeal form had not crossed our threshold and my tuchus was not in the driver’s seat. 

“Heading out” to me meant “Okay, I really *really* have to buckle down and finish this last email. Then I need to pee. Then I’ll head downstairs … to put on my boots (it’s always Winter in Minnesota), coat, look for my gloves, remember I want my water bottle, find my water bottle but realize it’s empty and now fill it back up, remember my mask, grab food for the host or reusable bags … leave the house only to go back in for one more thing.”

All of a sudden, the list of things I did between “I’m heading out!” and getting my rear end behind the steering wheel was enormous! Here’s where all my time went. I had never stopped to think that lacing up my boots actually takes a nonzero amount of time. 

So now my partner and I have a BUTTS IN CAR time clearly in our calendar. That means my “I’m heading out!” time is 15 minutes before that, and I need to set an alarm. I even set a second alarm that says, “10 minutes before you need to STOP and HEAD OUT” (I apparently really like yelling at myself in writing 🙂 ).

Now just knowing this information isn’t enough. Even when I’ve planned out all my time, my brain still says “Nahhhh, you’ve got time, it’s just one little thing.” No! No brain, it’s never one little thing. Past Riley was nice enough to plan this out for the future Riley just for this very reason!

I’m not saying I’m perfectly on time (cue my partner laughing in the background). But I’m *more* on time or a little less late now that I’ve acknowledged I’m not magically stopping time while I get ready. Sometimes I still give in to that impulsive voice, but at least I no longer worry about having a black hole in my driveway. 


Riley Karbon, PCAC
ADHD Coach | Center For Living Well with ADHD, LLC

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