Allow Time to Be on Time

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,

Time Management Through the Ages

There are many basic time management skills that are helpful throughout one’s life: setting goals, prioritizing tasks, and planning your day, just to name a few. While the benefit of using these skills is ageless, our time management challenges change as we age. The college graduate trying to juggle a full-time job while keeping up with an active social life needs a different approach to time management than retirees who may have fewer external demands on their time.

Here are some time management tips, broken down by the age group for which they may be most relevant (although some may be relevant for any age group):

College graduate to age 30

  • Just because you no longer have to track homework assignments doesn’t mean you don’t need a planning tool. Whether it’s your phone, a web-based calendar or a paper planner, use something to keep track of appointments and remind you of things you need to get done.
  • Establish a recurring time to manage your finances (e.g., Sunday evening). Use this time to balance your checkbook, review your credit card statement, and pay your bills.
  • Be on time – your friends may have been willing to wait, but the work world is less forgiving. Calling or texting to say you’ll be late doesn’t absolve you from your obligation to be on time.

 Age 30 to 40

  • You may be juggling work and caring for young children. As exhausting as that may be, make time for friends and family, including a regular date night with your spouse. It will help keep your marriage and relationships strong.
  • Prioritize and schedule tasks so you get important things done while the kids are napping.
  • Don’t underestimate what help your kids are able to provide around the house – choose age- and skill-appropriate chores for them.

Age 40 to 50

  • Be mindful of how many activities you allow your children to participate in. If they’re overscheduled and you spend all your free time chauffeuring them to activities, nobody will be happy.
  • Schedule time for your family to eat together – there are lots of benefits. If you can’t eat dinner together as often as you’d like, try a family breakfast or lunch on the weekend.
  • If you don’t participate in them already, explore hobbies, recreation or volunteer activities that will be of interest once your kids leave home (yes, that day will come!). It will help reduce your anxiety about transitioning into the empty nest phase.

Here’s a  link to my newsletter where you’ll find time management tips for additional age groups.

I’d love to hear about your favorite time management tips – and if you’re willing to share, what age group you fall into.

Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom,