Tips To Stop Being Late
There are those who wield time like a weapon. Who deliberately make others wait for them because they believe the fact that people will wait is an expression of their elevated status. Usually though people wait because they’re polite and forgiving. Although most will also make a quiet note that this or that person treated them like a serf. Chances are you’re not into making people wait just to pad your ego. But those left tapping their pencils in the conference room waiting for you to arrive don’t know that.
The First Step in Preventing Tardiness Is Knowing Why It Happens
Most of the time chronic tardiness is not the fault of the alarm clock but rather the result of a few bad habits built up over time. Below are 7 time management and general awareness tips that should help get you to the church (or the meeting or Thanksgiving dinner) on time.
1. Learn How To Say No
One reason some people are late all the time is because they simply don’t know how to politely refuse when asked for coffee, even if that pleasant encounter at the cafe potentially conflicts timewise with an important business meeting at one and much-needed sleep at the other. The result is that no one is happy. The friend is left staring into their cold cappuccino at the cafe while you’re still in bed and later, the client is left staring at their watch and wondering why they bothered to do business with you. The solution: tell the friend you’d love to have coffee but it will have to be some other time. This way you’ll get enough sleep and be both sharp and on time for your business meeting.
2. Be Realistic Regarding How Long Things Take
People who are chronically late often share one characteristic above all others: they simply don’t appreciate how long things actually take. They aren’t trying to mess with others when they say they’ll “be there in 20”, they just don’t understand that it’s not possible. One way to purge this troublesome characteristic from your system is to spend a few days timing things. Write down how long it takes to dry your hair. How long it takes to get dressed. How long it takes to get from your apartment to the subway. And from the subway to the office etc. Then practice setting deadlines. “It takes me 15 minutes to dry my hair and get dressed and 20 minutes to get from here to the meeting location. So I have to be out of the shower by X time if I’m going to make the meeting on time.”
3. Be Realistic About Deadlines
Speaking of deadlines… People who are chronically late are often afraid to admit that they’ve promised more than they can deliver. Or they fear that if they’re honest about how long something is going to take they’ll lose the job. But the fact is that spreading things out a bit will help you do a better job across the board. If you’ve got a dozen things on your plate don’t promise to deliver something new tomorrow. Be honest. If it’s going to take 3 days give yourself 3 days. If it’s an emergency then move something else on your schedule back a few days to make room. Don’t simply try and squeeze something new into an already jammed schedule.
4. Eliminate Drama
If we’re being totally honest here then we have to talk about the fact that being late has a certain romance to it. It can be more than a little dramatic to be the last one to arrive and have all eyes on you as you enter like a whirlwind. People can even become subconsciously attached to that drama. But while it may all seem, upon reflection, like a harmless bit of ego-feeding it’s actually putting you in a bad light with others whose assistance you may need at some point in the future. Even on a personal level family and friends who may be amused by a bit of drama from time to time are going to tire of you constantly crashing through the door an hour late. So can the drama and just be on time.
5. Prepare Ahead Of Time
People who are chronically late often wait until the last possible minute to get ready. They take a quick glance at their watch, realize they have an important meeting in half an hour and start preparing. They then walk into that meeting 15 minutes late looking frazzled and not making a lot of sense. A much better strategy is to prepare the night before. Gather all your materials together, go over your notes, review things you’re not sure about and organize everything in a logical fashion. The next day you can show up a few minutes early and make a positive first impression.
6. Use A Daily Planner Or Diary
We know that building new habits isn’t easy but this is one habit that will likely pay big dividends in the long run. Get yourself a daily planner/diary and practice using it. Don’t commit to a meeting, date or another event until you first consult your planner and make sure you are free at the specified time. If you already have something booked look for a time when you’re free and ask the other person if they can meet you then. If they agree enter the new item in your planner immediately.
7. Use Your Phone
Finally, if you must be late use that big expensive piece of 21st century kit in your pocket and call to say you’re going to be late. Many folks who are chronically tardy don’t do this. The fact is, it is often this lack of consideration – even more than the act of being late – that others take exception to. Also, calling every time to say your late will make you aware just how often you are late and hopefully create a bit of guilt you can use to motivate yourself to rectify the situation.