”LATE! A Timebender’s guide to why we are late and how we can change“ lists 20 tried and tested tips to get you to your goal on time. Here are three of the best:
- Involve other people
If others are tied into the same deadline as us, you don’t have to rely on your own adrenaline to get you moving. Having a partner who can get stressed when a deadline is getting dangerously close is a great help for us, but not so much fun for them.
A great trick is to offer someone a lift, because then your deadline is the time you have arranged to meet them, not the event itself. You will, of course, be a few minutes late picking them up, but hopefully you’ll have built in a bit of extra time to allow for this.
If you don’t have someone to team up with, then can you pay someone? If you can never get yourself to the gum in time for a class, then try hiring a personal trainer, as you won’t want to waste your money by turning up late. If you can never get around to filing your tax return, then hire a bookkeeper to help you with your accounts and make sure you pay your taxes on time.
2 Always have something to do while you’re waiting.
One of the reasons we are late is because we see being early as a waste of time, so focus on something you want to do BEFORE the event you don’t want to be late for. Grabbing a latte and updating your social media is perfect for this. If you don’t have messages to read on your phone, you can always scroll through photos, catch up with the news, or learn a language. If you want to try to kick the adrenaline habit and live life at a slower pace, then use the time to practice meditation and mindfulness. If you are a ‘people person’, then arrange to meet someone before the event begins.
The trick is to focus on the activity, and promise yourself a certain amount of time to do it. Tell yourself “I need to get to my class by 7:45am so that I can catch up with Becky.” That way you can get your adrenaline high by being late for your ‘pre-event activity’ rather than the event itself. Don’t tell yourself, “I’ll try to get to the class 15 mins early, to catch up with Becky.” If you focus on the idea of being early, you’ll probably be late.
- Set up an earlier deadline before a big event
When the consequences of being late can be unthinkable, try to get your real and external deadline as early in the chain of events as possible. This helps to limit both the level and length of your stress. For example, if you are catching a flight, avoid driving to the airport if you possibly can, because you don’t want your first real deadline to be the time the check-in desk closes. If you’re 5 minutes late (as usual), you’ve lost the whole vacation. It would be far less stressful to create an earlier deadline by ordering a taxi/Uber, or arranging for a friend to drive you.
If you have no choice but to drive yourself to an important event, then see if you can create an earlier deadline. If you are going to a wedding, or a funeral, or a big-ticket concert, can you arrange to meet family or friends for a meal or drink beforehand? Could you drop your car at someone’s house and share the last part of the journey with them? If you have no option but to drive yourself, consider booking yourself into a hotel the night before – the cost could well be worth it.