Do you find yourself arriving late for appointments, meetings and social events more often than you’re on time? Do your friends and family members tell you an event is going to start a half hour earlier than it actually starts just so you have a chance of being “on time”? Here are some possible reasons for your tardiness and how you might be able to turn around your reputation for always being late:
You don’t know how long it takes to get ready. Have you ever timed how long it takes for you to go through your out-the-door routine? If you pay attention, and even write down how long each step takes, you might be surprised. One of my favorite episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond is when Raymond, in an effort to teach Debra the importance of being ready to leave the house on time, invokes the A.I.S. technique his dad used with Raymond and his brother. I’ll let you determine what A.I.S. stands for by watching this clip, but I can assure you it’s been an effective technique in our household.
You don’t allow for travel time. I’ve written on this topic previously. The key thing to remember is that you have to consider how long it will take you to get from point A to point B when you’re strategizing about how to get somewhere on time. I always add a cushion to my time estimates to allow for what has almost become the norm: traffic jams. I can drive the same route at the same time on two different days of the same week and experience wildly different travel times. For the happy occasions when I arrive early, I keep reading material in my car.
You need to “just finish one more thing” before you leave. We’ve all been there: you’re in the middle of typing an email, paying a bill online, folding the laundry (you do fold it right when you take it out of the dryer, right?), or writing a blog post, and you need “just a minute” to finish it up. More often than not that minute will turn into several minutes, and may even lead to you starting something else, totally derailing any hope you had of being on time. Set a timer to go off at least five minutes before that out-the-door time. If you’re in the middle of something, jot a reminder on a sticky note or in your planner to remind you of where to resume whatever task you were on when you get home. By all means, don’t attempt to finish the task before you leave. Remember, that’s how you got the “always late” reputation.
You can apologize for being late and that makes everything ok. Your friends or colleagues may say “that’s ok” when you apologize, but trust me, behind your back, they’re talking about your constant tardiness and how it wastes their time. Your hairdresser may smile when you rush in late for your appointment, but inside, he or she is seething that you’ve messed up their schedule. I almost can’t blame you for being late for doctors’ appointments – I’d love to hear a reason why they tend to make their patients wait ridiculous amounts of time for appointments. It reminds me of a scene from the TV show Seinfeld where the doctors seem to view appointments like car reservations. I have actually switched doctors several times simply due to their lack of consideration for the value of my time.
So how will the new, on-time you, overcome your reputation for being late?
Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom,