Dyslexics have Difficulties with Time Management

Time management is very difficult, if not impossible for many Dyslexics.   This is not due to them being lazy, thoughtless or uncaring. Dyslexics are right-brain dominant thinkers and live in the present. The past and future belong to the left-brainers.

A Dyslexic tends not to look at their life in any kind of a systematic way. They are often called “free spirits”, “flighty” , “unfocused” or “easily distracted” .

Dyslexics however are solidly planted in the moment and if they are spending time with you, that is where they are mentally – 100% with you. They may seem distracted as their minds may drift or catapult to a stimulating tangent or many tangents as you chat due to the conversation sparking new and exciting thoughts for them, but they are with you. They can even have difficulty pulling themselves away to another obligation or are willing to cancel everything to spend time with you.

Dyslexics are also intuitive, very empathetic and enjoy counseling others.  They have a passionate desire to problem solve along with an often overwhelming need to help others feel balanced and happy.  They tend to “feel” another person’s emotions and they can and will drop everything to help if they think it is important.

As a Dyslexic in a large family of right-brainers I often find myself in wonderful conversations filled with a wide variety of ideas and laughter with the “righties” in my life and we hate to move on or go somewhere else. Our dinner conversations can easily turn into stimulating all nighters. Dyslexics love to ponder a subject and sometimes have to be metaphorically “dragged away, kicking and screaming”.

Dyslexics will become immersed in problem-solving an issue and have difficulty stopping. I always know I am talking to a right-brained person when they go way overboard helping me when I am at a store, organization, government office, etc. They will keep coming up with other ideas and want to be sure I know all aspects of the “big picture” – people to contact, companies to check out, phone numbers, information that they don’t necessarily need to tell me but can make a huge difference, other options – they can’t stop! – even if they need to get on with their own work .

Dyslexics tend to be perfectionists and will get stuck on some part of their work or project.  They can’t move on till their project is what they imagined and will usually continue to improve it as they go.  The time and schedule will get away from them and they are not finished for their deadline.  This Dyslexic individual is then viewed as a time waster,  not organized,  can’t prioritize or able to stay focused.  One of the problems with getting their work done is they are extremely focused. It is also very hard to stop when a Dyslexic’s imagination and creative juices are flowing. The result of their work however, will generally be well thought out, innovative and more than what was expected of them.

If they are working on a task or project they are totally engaged, being creative, problem solving, excited and having a terrible time pulling themselves away, let alone being aware of “the clock”.  Many of the Dyslexics I have come to know will despair over people not understanding they are getting their job done, they just need more time. Dyslexics live in the “now” and not aware of their schedule or anyone else which often makes them seem as if they are in their “own world”.  My sister gave me a t-shirt once that said “People say I live in my own little world but that’s okay because they all know me there!

I should finish by saying we do tell the people we work with who have a typical Dyslexic’s issue with time management that it is important to try to improve it.  There are a couple of techniques that I have found can work can work quite well:

Using a timer to stay on track with the amount of time spent on a task or a reminder to wrap it up and get ready to leave or move onto another task. This can really help – it’s made a big difference to my personal and work life. But I struggle with the part about stopping what I’m doing.

Dyslexics tend to think of the time for their next obligation or appointment only when that time comes so they will usually be late. My friends used to tell me to show up at 5:00pm for dinner knowing that I would show up at 6:00pm.  I wouldn’t start to think about leaving until the time I was supposed to be somewhere.  I finally figured this one out. If I have to be there at 5:00 I subtract the amount of time I need to get ready and drive or walk there. Then I set my timer and agree with myself that I will stop. I am usually able to stop with in 5 to 10 minutes of the timer going off.

Here are a couple of links for time management info for Dyslexics that you might find useful:



So be patient with the Dyslexics and right-brainers in your life, give them a hug and tell them it’s okay because you know they are trying really hard with their lists, schedules, deadlines and keeping track of their “stuff”.  Also noticing and remarking on all the wonderful things that can occur from how they spend their time would also be very supportive.

Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

36 thoughts on “Dyslexics have Difficulties with Time Management

  1. Time issues have been an issue since childhood (I’m 67 now) they have continued to be a huge and devastating issue in most of my relationships, it is the reason that several were ended by the other person. I’ve been called rude, uncaring, that I’m doing it intentionally. that “It’s such a simple thing, how hard can it be?” “Just get over it!’. Why the hell would I do this intentionally if it causes me so much pain, anxiety, and heartache???? This ends up being my biggest ‘flaw’, with often all my other positive traits dismissed because of it. I have a few friends that ‘Get it” and occasionally run into some people that it’s their story too. It’s so refreshing! I have tried many different techniques, with some short-term good results, but end up slipping back into my default mode. For me, time is not linear, it happens all at once. I barely made it through high school but, out on my own, I’ve been successful in my work, passions, and adventures. I’ve owned my own businesses most of my life, thus alleviated getting fired.
    Also, where is the line between dyslexia and ADD/ADHD? This issue is often spoken of in the ADD/ADHD literature and support groups. I was diagnosed with both, (finally, in my late 40’s)
    but have found that dyslexia carries much less stigma then the ADD/ADHD does.

    • Hello Nancy;
      Thank you for your thoughtful email. I completely understand your suffering. It is so hard to explain to people it isn’t about not caring. As a Dyslexic I have experienced living in the present most of the time and am aware of being on time for commitments is very difficult. You have listed many of the common issues we righties experience. I am happy to hear you have been successful despite your issues. I believe strongly the positives of a right brain dominant personality can sometimes make it bearable.

      I can’t give you any other suggestions than the ones in my blog I listed. These suggestions work for me most of the time. I too have had to deal with remembering my obligations and pray people will forgive me when I lose sight of my list of to do’s. I even forget to check my daily agenda book and miss appointments.Aarrgghh!

      For fun and a bit more understanding of your thinking style, you might want to check out a TED talk by Jane Bolte Taylor.

      She is a brain researcher who had a severe stroke on the left side of her brain. As a scientist she experienced first hand what it was like having the left hemisphere offline and the right hemisphere managing her thoughts. She found it a revelation becoming aware of what the right side focused on. It’s a fun talk and she is an engaging speaker. Her book was interesting too.

      As far as ADD/ADHD and Dyslexia, many experts believe they are related. My experience has taught me through research reading and the people I’ve met who have one or both of these issues, Dyslexia doesn’t necessarily mean a person will have ADD/ADHD. And those with ADD/ADHD won’t necessarily have Dyslexia. Hope that helps!

      Again, thank you for sharing. I wish I had a magic bullet to make it go away.
      Take care and all the best!

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