Monday, August 27, 2012

Better Late Than Never But Never Late Is Better

Are you habitually late?  Being late, even just once (when it counts), can make people believe that you are incompetent, self-centered and lack integrity.  More importantly, though, being late is really stressful!  We panic and forget things that we need to take with us (like a small child).  We snap at our loved ones and, of course, as soon as we are running late, we get behind someone on the road going slower than an asthmatic snail that causes our stress levels to skyrocket. 

When my boys were little my dear, sweet mother-in-law would quite often babysit for us.  However, dear, sweet mother-in-law was also chronically late.  We learned to tell her that we needed her 15 minutes before we actually did so that Mr. P and I would not be late to functions.  However, as my boys got older, my mother-in-law decided to re-enter the work force after being home for several years.  Because her job required her to meet with clients several times a week, she had to institute some strategies to help her get to these meetings on time.  The point of all of this, besides being a plug for my dear, sweet mother-in-law, is that it is possible to learn how to be on time.

Here are a few tips that you can try to help you be punctual.

1. When you need to be somewhere on time, write down your appointment 15 minutes earlier than when you really need to be there (it worked with my dear, sweet mother-in-law).  If you need to be at the dentist at 1:00pm then write it on your calendar as 12:45pm.

2. Set up some sort of reminder.  Online calendars like Cozi will text a reminder to you in advance but even just a post-it note paper clipped to your purse strap will help you remember those "can't forget" appointments.

3. Adjust the amount of time that you give yourself for your commute to account for rush hour traffic.  If you think that it will take you 30 minutes to get to your destination than give yourself 40.  Try to add at least 25% to the time you have allotted.  For me, living in a relatively small town, rush hour is when I have to wait for more than 4 cars before turning left.  More than 8 and I wonder if I should pull over for the funeral procession.

4. If you can, avoid scheduling appointments during "peak times".  A trip to a doctor's appointment at 9:00am means rush hour traffic.  If you can make it for 10:00am instead you could save valuable commuting time.  However, don't make your appointment too late because we all know that a doctor's appointment at 3:00pm usually means a good hour wait in the waiting room!

5. Don't check your email or your voicemail just before leaving.  It always takes more time than you think.

6. Be sure to fill your car's gas tank at least once a week or when it hits 1/4 full.  Never be late because you had to stop for gas.  You just can't estimate how many people will be in front of you in the line up for gas and how long they will take.  I fill my car up every Friday while I am running errands and getting groceries.

7. Streamline your morning routine.  Lay out your clothes the night before and have everything ready that you need to take with you in the morning set in one spot.  For more information on how to streamline your morning routine click here.

8.  Set your clocks ahead by a few minutes each - by different amounts.  Since you probably won't remember just how many minutes each clock is set ahead you will have to take each one at face value.  For your computer, try using the Procrastinator's Clock.  This awesome download will set your computer's clock up to 15 minutes ahead.  The trick is that it is not always 15 minutes ahead, sometimes it can be only 2 minutes or maybe 5 minutes.  It gives you a sense of urgency because, "you have to assume that the clock might actually be telling the correct time though it’s likely to actually be up to 15 minutes fast. Yikes! All that anxiety should give you a good kick in the pants to get moving, because you can’t really trust the clock to be anything but on time, even though it probably is fast."

9. Figure out what's important and prioritize. Sometimes you just don't have enough hours in the day to do all that you want to do and trying to cram in more will not give you the life that you want to live.  Lead a life of quality, not quantity.


  1. I find it very disrespectful when people are habitually late, especially, if more than half an hour or hour late. It is as if my time is not important. (I'm not talking about our FlyCoffees.)

    If I have set up a meeting or coffee date with a client or friend then I expect them to be on time, unless something unforeseeable happens. I have a friend who was always half an hour to two hours late, IF she showed up at all. It really upset me and I had to have a talk with her. At the time I was running a business and had taken the time to meet with her. Her not showing up was not only disrespectful, but cut into the time I could have been working.

  2. I had a boss who believed that if you were 5 minutes late for a meeting with 6 people then you were actually 30 minutes late since each person counted!