I used to be late all the time. No matter how well I planned things, I would slide into the the room ten or fifteen minutes late. It was really annoying, not only for the people waiting on me, but I even annoyed myself! Whenever I arrived somewhere I would have this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomache like I was going to get into trouble. Sometimes I was called out, and other times the hosts would graciously ignore that I was late and continue with the event.
Things have changed. Now, no matter how many tricks I play on myself with watches or clocks telling me how late I am, I am usually on time or early. I have changed my behaviour through a few simple tricks, which are outlined below.
Though occasionally I break this one and have a luscious ‘few more minutes’, generally, I don’t press the snooze button. You cannot expect yourself to make rational decisions in that half-asleep state. (Ask any university student as they stumble home across campus during sunrise!) Snoozing shaves valuable time off your morning routine, and you will find yourself rushing around at the last minute as you try to beat the clock. Set your alarm for the last possible moment you could be awake without getting late, and then don’t snooze.
You can do a lot of preparation the night before a full day. You can get your clothes ready, pack a lunch, and make sure all the stuff you will have to take with you is ready and waiting at the door. You can send the last-minute emails at night and make sure you have enough gas in your tank before the morning rush. Being prepared not only saves time, it saves the mental stress of unexpected chaos in the morning.
If someone else has to be somewhere at the same time as you, ask them to help you with your lateness problem. This means they can call you to make sure you are on time, or even pick you up so that you have to be ready within a certain window of time. After a week of consecutive “on-time” successes, they may even take you out for ice-cream! Letting someone else in on your problem is a bold step, as it means you are brave enough to ask for help.
I always add 15 minutes to my commute time. That way, if there is some drama on the road (construction, detours, accident, parade) I can still make it to my destination on time and safely. Notice which routes are quickest, and stick to those. The worst thing you can do when you are late is try a new route that you have never tried before. Stick with what you know and with that extra time, you will be sliding in with a few minutes to spare.
Having children adds unexpected time to an outing. It takes extra time to get their shoes and jackets on, convince them you really do need to leave, and get the focused enough to walk out the door. Know what time you need to actually leave the driveway by, in order to be there on time. If you are walking, know how long it will take you to get outside and to the corner of your street. If you don’t do this, the numbers will creep up at you as you rush around at home, already ten minutes late for your appointment.
There are many other ways to keep yourself on time, some of which you may be testing out right now. However, the biggest shift will be your own commitment. When you commit to getting somewhere on time, you send the message that you value the event you are attending or the person you are meeting. When you are chronically late, people begin to see you as unreliable and dis-organized. Using these simple tricks, you will find yourself on time more frequently, and before you know it, lateness will be a thing of the past!