Being late screws up your day. And it screws up other people’s days, too. It might cause others to be late, which would cause their friends’ friends to be late, and so on. I was raised by VERY punctual parents! I may not know how to change a tire or organize a closet, but I know how to be on time! (That counts for something, right?!) It’s tricky; it’s like an art form. Allow me to share with you my punctual expertise:
-If you have a lateness problem, the only way it will stop is if you admit that you have a problem with lateness, and make a few changes. You can’t just snap your fingers and all of a sudden be a punctual person. Most people can’t just quit smoking. You can’t just make more money. You can’t just lose weight. You need a plan first! Same with being on time. It’s not easy and it takes work.
-Punctuality starts with planning, and being mindful. Are you a super positive thinker? Great!! But a positive mind can actually mess with your punctuality. Thinking “oh of course I can do these 24 things on my list all in one day!” is a great positive statement and sets your goals high, but be careful! It might set you up for disappointment. Be realistic. How? Take notes. Get a feel for how much you can get done in one day. Understand how long it REALLY takes you to run a certain errand, to make a pie, to drive somewhere an hour away. And be careful with rounding. See next bullet
-Remember that ONE time the beltway was clear and all your lights were green and you made it to work in 20 minutes? GREAT! But there’s a problem with that: This is not the norm. You can’t go on thinking “it takes 20 minutes to get to work.” If it generally takes 20-27 minutes, then just assume 30 minutes always. Set yourself up to be early, not late. It will cut down on your stress! Then if there’s traffic or you have to stop for gas or something, even though that takes a few minutes, you will still be on time.
-When thinking of how much time it takes to get somewhere, don’t start the clock when your car is speeding away from your house. Start the clock when you first walk out the door. (Do you usually walk out the door, get in your car, then realize you forgot something, then go back inside? Budget for that time! Start the clock the first time you walk out the door, not the second.) Then, don’t stop the clock when you pull up to your destination. Allow extra time for finding the building, finding a parking spot, maybe paying a meter, then walking to your destination, then walking in the door. You’d be surprised at how much that extra stuff adds up!
-Set up some tests for yourself. Constantly log your start/stop times for everyday things. What time do you really get out of bed in the AM? And what time do you head out the door? Log these times. Maybe it doesn’t take you an hour to get ready; maybe it really takes you 80 minutes. Big difference. Know how long it really takes you to get ready! If it takes you 65 minutes on Monday, 68 minutes on Tuesday, 54 minutes on Wednesday, 71 minutes on Thursday, don’t take an average or round down to 60. Assume it takes 70-80 minutes (unless you decide to cut something out of your routine to ensure that it will only take 60).
-Time flies. It really does. Keep an eye on your clock or watch or phone. Consider wearing a watch so you are not always glued to your phone. Set it a few minutes ahead (but not so much ahead that you end up always subtracting 10 minutes when reading your watch). Set it for 4 minutes past, but assume that it’s perfectly on time.
-Traffic! It’s the norm around here. Don’t assume traffic will be fine. When is it ever fine?? We have freaking rush hour at 1 pm in Maryland. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy, Maryland, why??!
-Be mindful. What time did you want to leave the house today? What time did you really leave the house today? Constantly check these and compare them. If you are consistently leaving later than your goal time, an adjustment must be made.
-Don’t let other people cause you to be late. Let people know you’re on a timeline. Sometimes I have all the time in the world. Other times, I have 5 minutes and then have to be on my way. Just be kind and give them a heads up. Maybe someone called you and you answered but must be out the door in 5 minutes. Let them know! Chances are, they might need a reminder in a few minutes. And that’s ok. Example! On 5/12, we have a gig in PA. Then the next day, we need to be at a festival at 10 AM. I know that if we stay with a friend after the show on 5/12, we will be distracted and we’ll want to hang with that friend in the morning, and it will take us longer to get ready and out the door. So instead of staying with our friend, we booked a hotel. It takes us less time to get ready and it will help to keep us on schedule. (We will certainly miss our friend, though!)
-Don’t be afraid to be a few minutes early. Early is good! Especially on a pretty day. Maybe you can sneak in a quick walk or meditation or you can check out a cool local store you’ve never been to.
-Do the most important things first, and save optional or least important things for last. Getting ready in the AM? Don’t scroll on Facebook when you first wake up. Try showering and getting dressed first. Then spend any extra time on Facebook or email, or stuff that can wait til later. (Another great tip that I learned from my parents!)
-There is a downside to being on time: it makes it harder to feel like you are “in the moment.” Because of my severe punctuality, I’ve never been good at being in the moment. Luckily, Jaime has taught me how to be better at it! (Thank you sweetie!!) But when I’m focused on being on time, it’s harder to stay in that moment. Cuz I’m thinking of and planning for the next one. It’s all about finding a happy balance between the two! Sometimes, one is more important than the other.
I love you! Thanks for reading : – )
Photo by Dan Gillespie and DGital