Are You A Timebender?

“I’m sorry I’m late but…”  How often do you say these words?  And how often do you manage to arrive on time just because all the traffic lights were green and you found the perfect parking space?  If this picture is familiar, then join the club – a surprisingly large club, which has been a secret society for far too long. 

Let’s face it – we hate being late!  When we do arrive early, we enjoy feeling calm and unruffled, with enough time to visit the bathroom or get a cup of coffee.  So why don’t we make our lives easier by doing it all the time?  We always make mental notes that next time we will leave home earlier.  It’s just that somehow, when it comes to the next time, our resolve evaporates and we fall back into the same pattern.

Do you get the feeling that the rest of the world is always on time, and it is just you who is late?  It’s a surprisingly common problem – research shows that 20% of the population find it hard to be punctual – time seems to work differently for us. We bend time – sometimes it stretches and sometimes it shrinks.

Time Management courses and books seem to think everyone can follow simple instructions to change their behavior, but this doesn’t work for us.  We need to creep up on the problem from a different angle if we are to find ways of arriving on time, because we have a little demon in our brain that is determined to make us late.  

If we can find ways of improving our timekeeping, we will be improving lives.  Not just our own lives, but the lives of the people we live and work with.  Close to every person who is always late, there is someone who needs to be early, and the sparks that fly between the two could power a city. The early birds get the worst of the bargain – they act like a pressure gauge for us – the nearer they get to exploding, the faster we move.  So in the interests of reducing global tensions, we need to see if we can find better ways of becoming our own time-keepers.  

Grace G. Pacie has spent 10 years researching the subject of her ground-breaking book, which includes 20 ways to improve your timekeeping without having to rely on willpower.  Here are three to get you started.

“This book was far more insightful and thought provoking than I expected”
Rebecca Jones

CEO, Object Source LLP

“LATE! is such a good antidote to all the other time management books out there! I found it funny, informative and sympathetic”
Clare Rayner

Member of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine

“Great fun to read, ranges over lots of fascinating topics, and is packed full of practical tips for people who struggle to be on time – or for those who work or live with them.”
Catherine Stothart

Leadership Coach and Author of “How to Get On with Anyone”

  1. Involve other people
If others are tied into the same deadline as you, 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 gym on 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 taxes, 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, update your social media 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.


3. Set up an earlier deadline before a big event
When the consequences of being late can be unthinkable, try and set your first 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 yourself 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 is 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 set up a pre-event 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.

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