There’s a new trend popping up in the American workforce, particularly among Gen Z employees, and it’s known as “time blindness.”
People with time blindness miscalculate how long a task will take, said Amy Morin, a psychotherapist in Marathon, Florida, and the author of the book, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.”
“They underestimate how much time something will take and overestimate how quickly they can accomplish a task,” Morin said.
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She added, “They may lose track of time altogether when doing an activity and may be chronically late.”
Also, these individuals, said Morin, may leave late for events or trips and miss their flights.
They don’t realize how much time they should set aside for the drive or the ride to the airport.
Or, she said, they may say they’ve been waiting for an hour — when they’ve really only been waiting for someone for a few minutes.
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Individuals with time blindness struggle to predict how long a future event will take — and they also have a skewed sense of time that’s passed, said Morin.
“People may underestimate how long they’ve been working on a project or how long they’ve been participating in an activity.”
“They may have difficulty figuring out the last time they talked to someone on the phone or trouble recalling how long they worked for a company because they struggle to gauge time,” she said.
It is a real issue, Morin pointed out.
“Time blindness can be a symptom of a mental health issue, such as ADHD,” she said.
She added, “It’s not just someone being inconsiderate — it’s a real thing.”
The condition can stem from people being hyper-focused on an activity to the extent that it causes them to lose track of time, Morin said.
“People may underestimate how long they’ve been working on a project or how long they’ve been participating in an activity,” Morin told FOX Business.
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“Their brain gets confused about how much time has actually gone by — and they have no idea whether they’ve been busy for a few minutes or a few hours.”
How is ‘time blindness’ impacting companies?
As a term, “time blindness” has been circulating recently in discussions about the workplace, according to Christina Morrison, manager of HR Services, Insperity, who is based in Boston, Massachusetts.
“The concept of not being able to keep track of time or having poor time and project management skills is not new,” she pointed out — yet today, “we are becoming more aware that this can be a challenge for the neuro-diverse.”
Some in Generation Z — comprised of people born between 1996 and 2010 — may have latched onto the label of time blindness, but Morrison told FOX Business that “there are people of all ages who easily lose track of time and struggle with deadlines in the workplace.”
She added, “As personal stories of time blindness spread on social media, business leaders are bound to hear more about it from their employees.”
Communication, transparency are key
Employers need to make reasonable accommodations that allow qualified employees to do their jobs, said Morrison.
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“It is important to consult with the HR and legal [departments] to ensure you meet state and federal laws and are compliant surrounding disabilities, which includes the neuro-diverse,” she said.
“It is, however, up to the employee to disclose a disability,” she added.
“Managers should point to company policies surrounding tardiness; however, if the employee shares they are neuro-diverse, reasonable accommodations should be made.”
“Once employers are aware of a disability, they are then obligated to accommodate those disabilities.”
Open communication and transparency are important first steps when someone claims time blindness, said Morrison.
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“Managers should point to company policies surrounding tardiness; however, if the employee shares they are neuro-diverse, reasonable accommodations should be made,” Morrison told FOX Business.
“Reasonable accommodations for the neuro-diverse who may also have issues with time blindness could be flexible scheduling, job coaching, mentorship and time management tools.”
Also, she said, managers need to know how to deal with a wide variety of employee issues.
So employers need to train them on how to approach the situation and work with HR to make the proper accommodations for diverse teams.
“If they’re late for a meeting, they may learn to leave for the meeting 10 minutes earlier.”
Although there may be a new label on an old problem, Morrison explained that time blindness is something that impacts people, not a generation.
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“Working with employees when an issue arrives with clear, concise communication is imperative, coupled with empathy, for the success of the individual, the team and the organization,” she added.
What can workers do to minimize the effects of time blindness?
Psychotherapist Morin said workers may benefit from having conversations with a supervisor about how to manage specific tasks.
“If they’re working on a big project, they might benefit from checking in with someone during specific intervals and having short-term objectives and deadlines. This can help them stay on target along the way,” she said.
And workers can learn from their mistakes.
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“If they’re late for a meeting, they may learn to leave for the meeting 10 minutes earlier and to set a timer that reminds them when it’s time to head to the conference room,” Morin suggested.
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“They may find it helpful to schedule their day in advance and then track how their time is spent so they can stay on task and on time,” she also said.