Kick The “Late” Habit

I posted a few things from my FB page last week regarding time management.  Having the ability to manage your time well is a huge part of being organized.  I think a lot of us go through the day like the clock is chasing us, and we didn’t even have time to put our shoes on before the wild chase began.

I want to briefly touch on a subject of importance that remains “timeless.”  Being on time.  To work.  To meetings.  To dinner dates.  To pick up your kids.  To family functions.  And the list goes on.  Being on time communicates respect to the other parties involved.  It also builds trust. If we want to be viewed as respectable and dependable, and if we want others to respect the boundaries we set, we need to make a habit of being on time to things.

Being late may be the norm for you.  Maybe you’ve lived like this for decades and have accepted it’s just how things are.  I want to challenge your thinking.  If you can consistently be 20 minutes late to things, then you can consistently be on time!  I’m going to say it again.  If you can consistently be 20 (or 10 or 15 or 30) minutes late to everything, then you have the potential to be on time to your commitments.

Here’s something simple to try. Changing something like this will take effort, so you have to make a choice that you want to change.  You will make a series of choices every time you’re getting ready to go somewhere to retrain your brain.

First, figure out how much you’re late by.  Keep track of it for a week.   Use scrap paper, a journal, whatever, (in your purse or wallet or even car) and jot down by how many minutes you missed being on time.  Divide it up by days (separate page or piece of paper for each day).  Along with amount of time you were late, jot down how you spent your time before you left.  Look for the “time stealers.”  Look for patterns.  See if there’s anything you can prep the day before, or earlier in the day.  Are you late only in the morning, or only in the evening?  Are you late to lunch meetings?   Do you walk back in the house several times because you’ve forgotten something?

After keeping track of things for a week, make some necessary shifts.  Give yourself time limits like: I’m going to only spend 20 minutes reading and answering email in the morning before work.  Start making your way out the door sooner.  Look at that tardy time frame you discovered, and tack it on the other end of your schedule.  Add the 10, 15 or 20 minutes to the start.  This may mean: Get a shower earlier.  Wait until tonight to respond to that email.  Finish washing dishes later.  If you’ve formed a long-term habit of tardiness, this will not come natural or easy!  But give it a month or two and you will have a new habit of being on time!

And when you have children, unpredictability is the name of the game.  It takes us 5 times longer to do most things it seems (maybe I’m exaggerating but mostly not!).  So if we need to leave the house at 8:35, then I start getting their shoes on at 8:20.  Because I’ve learned it can possibly take 15 minutes to get them from the door to where we are pulling out of the driveway.

So try this and let me know if it helps you!  If you don’t want to try it and there’s one thing you can take, remember this:    Being on time happens first in the mind.  It’s inevitably a choice that we make with every single commitment.  If you are habitually late, I really doubt waking up earlier in the morning will be the answer (unless you press snooze for 30 minutes and really aren’t giving yourself adequate time!).  Changing your mindset IS the answer.  Most of us have plenty of time to get ready and get to things on time.  And, most of us need to lower our expectations of what we can fit into a single hour in the day.

Thanks for reading!


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