Do you find yourself often apologizing to friends, family, and coworkers for running 10 minutes late? Are you often stressed out, perpetually running from one thing to the next with the feeling that you can’t catch up?
You aren’t alone. Studies show that nearly 20% of Americans are chronically quite late. The reasons for this abound, but one’s relationship to time is said to be formed in the early years of life and perpetuated throughout. Many people can be grouped into one or two categories – always on time or consistently late – due to habits formed in the early stages of life.
And, like any habits, being late is a habit that can be hard to break. So how can you begin to break the habit of tardiness?
First, it’s necessary to admit you have a problem, and that you’d like to fix it (step one: complete… you did keep reading this article, didn’t you?). From there, you need to figure out exactly why you’re often tardy. Do you secretly like the thrill of rushing from one appointment to the other? Do you pack your schedule too tight with activities? Are you constantly underestimating the time it takes for you to get ready, or to travel to particular places? Figuring out your why makes it easier to target solutions.
How do punctual people combat these issues? For one, they’re realistic about timing, and always incorporate a bit of extra time to combat any bumps in the road that might arise. For a few weeks, try writing down how long particular activities take you. How long does it really take you to get ready in the morning? How long does it truly take to get to work, traffic and slow trains included?
Studies show that chronically late people engage in “magical thinking.” Say one day, you hit all the lights just right, and it takes 30 minutes to get to work. A magical thinker will have this time stuck in his or her mind – even if 45 minutes is more accurate on any given day. By timing your activities, and giving a little extra buffer time, lateness easily fades.
Staying organized is another key part of the punctual puzzle. If you find yourself often running around looking for your keys before you leave, or looking through your pile of clothes for something to wear, organization might be your problem. Find a consistent place to keep your necessities – say, your keys and wallet – and you’ll never be late looking for them again. Prep your outfit the night before – mom was right, it really does work! – to save time and energy.
Adapting even just a few of these techniques will get you where you need to go – on time and not stressed.
How do you stay timely?