My “for you page” on TikTok is a mix of videos about puppy training, interior decorating, and now ADHD hacks. The rabbit hole that got me to ADHD TikTok started with general anxiety and mental health TikTok videos. I both work in the mental health space and live with my own mental health realities, so I’m not surprised I got there.
I was surprised though at how helpful the tips have been. I live with anxiety and bouts of depression, a history of disordered eating, and a penchant for perfectionism, but never diagnosed with ADHD. I have yet to approach my therapist for an official diagnosis because I feel like the conversation starting with, “So, I think TikTok just taught me that I have ADHD…” may lead to more questions than answers. She’ll laugh. I’ll laugh. Then the seriousness of how to dissect another layer of my mental health will settle in.
Finding myself on ADHD TikTok has allowed me to work in reverse for once. I don’t care as much about the label for now, I’m more aligned with testing out the tips and seeing if they help me manage my high functioning anxiety, scattered brain, and easily overstimulated being.
This is why I ended up buying a visual timer at 1am on a Tuesday night.
The writer on the other end of the video explained that “seeing” time helped her stay on task better and more importantly helped her hold onto the concept of time as a whole. The visual timer’s website cited research on how effective the product has been in teaching both kids and adults about the passage of time.
To Manage Time, You Have To Understand Its Value
I was sold. I have always been a productive and on task person, but I can linger and time slips away easily for me. I can admit this. I know that getting through my to-do list is a given for me, but it’d be nice to find a way to not have it take triple the time.
If a timer could help me learn to really see time pass then $20 bucks felt like a worthy investment.
I also found this article published by the Indiana Institute of Disability and Community that elaborated more on the power of a visual timer:
“Presenting information related to time visually can assist in making the concepts more meaningful. Research indicated that the use of a visual timer…helped a student with autism transition successfully from computer time to work time at several points throughout the day (Dettmer, Simpson, Myles, & Ganz, 2000).”
While the context was speaking specifically about students with autism, I could also see how beneficial it could be for me because transitioning from one task to another proves difficult.
Creative Work Requires Dexterity
I’ve been working for myself for 7 years now. Having multiple revenue streams means needing to have a dexterity for switching between tasks. During my hardest bouts with my mental health, I often feel at a disadvantage because of how my mind overflows and it becomes harder for me to settle down.
Using the visual timer for a month has helped me improve exponentially. In writing this piece, I gave myself a 30-minute countdown. I will have to reset and add another 30-minutes in order to finish writing, editing, and publishing, but I could legitimately do a happy dance knowing that this entire piece only took me 1-hour.
Time has always felt so ephemeral and like I’m not using it effectively. The timer has given me a better grasp on how many hours in the day I have and the ways in which I use them.
Anxiety Calmer or Visual Timer?
I believe wholeheartedly that nothing good comes from running off your anxiety. I have a history of feeling like I can only create when I’m at my most anxious and it’s a habit I’ve been working to break. The goal was made easier thanks to the TikTok video about this timer.
Suddenly, here is a visual cue that helps me combat all the bad self talk in my head.
“You’re lingering and slow and stupid.”
“Actually, I’m not. I just got so much done in a 30-minute sprint,” is something I can now scream back to the hard voices in my head. I have a visual timer to prove it.
When I first opened the package with the blue timer, I was drawn to its aesthetic. I said to myself that at the very least even if I didn’t use it often, it would look pretty on my desk.
I’m glad it’s more than just an aesthetic item. I’ve been the most creative and most productive over the last month and I credit my ability to time manage to having a sidekick that shows me the passage of time.