Time management is a most discussed topic these days. Whether related to the workplace, school, homemaking, child-rearing, or our personal lives, we are so overloaded that there are self-help books, as well as experts and entire companies dedicated to this subject. When did it all get so complicated? And if you have obsessive-compulsive disorder, there’s a good chance you’ll have even more challenges to deal with.
One of the most challenging aspects of our clients with OCD was how much time they appeared to spend doing absolutely nothing. They have some schoolwork and other responsibilities to attend to, yet he’d just sit in a “safe” chair for hours and hours on end. I now know that he spent this time focusing on his obsessions and compulsions, which were in his mind and not obvious to us. As these clients improve, the chair sitting stopped, but they still often took longer than others to complete their school/work assignments. This seemed to be attributed to their difficulty balancing details within the big picture as well as over-thinking.
While some clients’ problem of apparently wasting time is common for those with OCD, the opposite end of the spectrum can also be an issue. Some OCD sufferers might feel the constant need to be busy and productive, as well as having every event and task of the day carefully reviewed and planned.
Something else OCD sufferers might deal with in regard to time management is lack of punctuality. This might be because they feel the need to finish whatever task they are working on before they can move on to something else (even if most people wouldn’t consider it important), or perhaps due to trouble with transitions. Of course, time spent attending to obsessions and compulsions can always account for any struggles with time management.
From what I’ve written, it is easy to conclude that those with OCD do not manage their time well, and might even be perceived as lazy. I believe the opposite is true. OCD sufferers work harder than ever just to get through the day, and they are also excellent time managers. Look at everything they have to manage!
We help our clients to revisit their priorities. We teach them how to sort out and work regularly on important but not urgent works on daily basis. This helps them to meet deadlines and manage the time and load of work. They work on the principle of first things first. We help them to accept that perfection is not required and they should accept gracefully that sometimes they will commit mistakes and they should face and accept this reality. By learning and following these basic skills clients with OCD gets better in managing their lives productively.