For years, employees have scrambled to think of excuses to explain why they’ve turned up late for work.
But now there might be a legitimate reason you can use to get your boss off your back if you’ve slept in — ‘time blindness’.
In a now viral TikTok video, a young user emotionally claimed she was yelled at for asking a potential employer whether they make ‘accommodations for people who struggle with time blindness’.
Chaotic Philosopher, who claims to be neurodivergent, moaned about the ‘culture where workers are cut off because they struggle being on time’ in her teary TikTok post, watched almost 5million times.
Social media immediately accused her of faking it, with commenters urging her to ‘just use an alarm’. Others questioned if time blindness would become ‘a new Gen Z trend’.
Yet, despite accusations that it’s made-up, psychologists insist it is real. They claim it’s especially common among people with ADHD.
Smriti Joshi, lead psychologist at AI mental health chatbot Wysa, told MailOnline: ‘Many of the factors associated with ADHD, such as difficulties in working memory and attention regulation, can contribute to a distorted sense of time.’
The user, Chaotic Philosopher, posted the video on TikTok and said she thought businesses that ‘cut off’ employees who ‘struggle with being on time’ need to be dismantled
But other experts say people don’t have to have ADHD to experience time blindness.
The NHS doesn’t recognise the term itself, but acknowledges that sufferers of ADHD can ‘have problems with organisation and time management’.
Sue Smith, psychotherapist and spokesperson for the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), claims early childhood trauma can also result in time blindness and feelings of dissociation as a child or later in life.
Time blindness is used to refer to the inability to recognise when time has passed or estimate how long a task may take, according to Robert Common, a psychologist and mental health expert based in Cambodia.
As a result, sufferers may frequently find themselves running for the bus, failing to meet deadlines or wrongly thinking a task will take ten minutes to complete, he said.
The phenomenon is not defined as a medical condition, but some doctors use it as a way of talking about the concept of losing track of time.
According to Mr Common, the common symptoms of time blindness include:
- Regularly losing track of time
- An inability to meet appointments or keep to schedules
- Repeatedly missing deadlines
- Feeling engrossed in a task or like nothing else matters
- Being unable to attend to do anything other than the task you are doing
- Overpromising on what you can reasonably deliver
- Feeling stuck in the present
- Putting things off
Ms Smith added: ‘Symptoms can range from a total absorption in an activity, to the polar opposite, of utter distraction, for example starting five jobs at once and becoming overwhelmed with the chaos.’
Mr Common warned that time blindness could be mistaken for laziness or stupidity.
He said: ‘Employers may believe that you are not invested in the job or not taking it seriously.’
Relationships might also suffer if you struggle to keep task with the priorities of friends and family because this can be mistaken for being selfish or self-absorbed, he warned.
Mr Common added that children who suffer from time blindness could be confused with having intellectual or learning difficulties.
However, there is advice for anyone who finds themselves with similar symptoms.
Ms Joshi suggested mapping out your daily life and using visual aids, such as timers and alarms, to remind yourself of upcoming tasks.
Friends of family who are aware of your condition can help you keep track of time and even prompt you before an important meeting, such as a hospital appointment or a job interview, the psychologists said.
And, if someone you care about is suffering from the condition, Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of the Chelsea Psychology Clinic in London, suggested being compassionate to their struggle.
She said: ‘While it can be frustrating, remind yourself that time blindness can be a real challenge and avoid being overly critical.’
However, she added if they are struggling then you should guide them towards expert help and perhaps suggest they seek out support from a therapist who specialises in ADHD.
If you are unaware that you have time blindness, these symptoms could pose difficulties to your daily life, for example your employers may not think you are taking your job seriously
Mr Common also said that the best way to support someone with time blindness is to be compassionate and promote self-compassion.
He added: ‘For children with ADHD, consider co-creating a schedule.
‘Being there to help them get ready and stick to a schedule, promoting their interests but not allowing them to overtake everything else, and using visible and clear reminders can also be helpful.’
However, social media users have poured scorn on those who claim to have the condition after a TikToker claimed she suffers from time blindness and slammed businesses for criticizing tardy employees who struggle to be punctual.
The user, Chaotic Philosopher, posted the video on TikTok and said she thought businesses that ‘cut off’ employees who ‘struggle with being on time’ need to be dismantled.
In the clip, she spoke about asking a potential employer if they made accommodations for her ‘time blindness’.
She said: ‘I just wanted to know if there are accommodations for people who struggle with time blindness and being on time, you know.
‘They all started yelling at me and saying that accommodations for time blindness did not exist and if you struggle with being on time you will never be able to get a job.’
Following her claims over ‘time blindness’, she said she was told: ‘Your stupid generation wants to destroy the workplace.’
Looking distressed, she added: ‘I think that a culture where workers are just cut off because they struggle being on time when there are other solutions we can look to, yeah, that culture needs to be dismantled.’
Chaotic Philosopher did not find too much sympathy after uploading the video to TikTok, before it was reposted to Twitter, with commenters urging her to ‘just use an alarm’.
One user commented on the video and said: I’ll accept time blindness if you agree to accept payroll blindness. It only seems fair.’
Another added: ‘Someone clearly stepped foot in the real world for the first time that day and realized she wasn’t cut out for it.’
One woman, who said she has worked as a manager and employer, said she understood being late happened from time to time.
But she added: ‘Life happens man — but when it’s a consistent issue, it doesn’t just effect you — if effects the entire team. Have some consideration for your coworkers.’
Others were even less sympathetic, with one user noting that she could resolve her issue by ‘setting alarms’.
‘This kind of thing I must make my OWN accommodations for. I lay out my fits every night, alarms for everything, meal prep,’ another explained.
In another video, another user, Morgan Foley, claimed time blindness is ‘very real’ and said it leaves her struggling to keep track of time and complete basic tasks.
Another account, called ADHD Love, posted a video that says time blindness comes in ‘two modes’.
‘Either I’m going to be late, no matter what I do. I can plan my morning, I can say five minutes for shower, eight minute walk to the station. It will just magically expand and end up taking way more time. Therefore, I’m late.
‘Second mode is when the anxiety takes over, that’s actually going to help me be on time. I’m going to sit there staring at my watch, until it’s time to leave early but I won’t be able to do anything before.’
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