Are you always late? Here's how to break the habit, once and for all
Ever thought to yourself, “I’ve got plenty of time,” only to find yourself running through the train station, sweat trickling into your eye make-up, as you battle to make it to the platform that feels miles away to get on the train that’s about to leave? Are you the one that gets told by friends that you’re meeting 30 minutes earlier than you actually are, because they know you’ll be late anyway?
Being consistently late is an affliction that affects many of us, and for different reasons. Luckily, it’s an affliction with multiple potential cures, meaning you won’t have to suffer eye-rolls from your friends and tickings-off from your boss forever.
Research has been conducted into the myriad reasons people are late, and the best possible solutions they can adopt. Diana DeLonzor wrote the book, Never Be Late Again, which summarises the seven different types of late person and offers some handy tips for turning into the most punctual person you’ve ever met. OK, that’s perhaps an exaggeration, but you’ll astound even yourself with your ability to make it to places on time. Have a read of the various types and see where you fit.
1. The Rationaliser
This type is categorised by always being in a state of denial. It’s never your fault that you’re late – the traffic was horrendous, or you simply have a lot on your plate right now, and how dare anyone call you out on it?! If this sounds like you, it might be time to admit that you have a problem. Admitting it is the first step towards eliminating it. So why are you always delayed? If it’s that you don’t give yourself enough time to get ready, start changing that today. Make a point of leaving your house 30 minutes earlier than you normally would, and force it into a habit.
2. The Producer
This is you if you tend to over-fill your schedule to the point where you don’t even have time to breathe. You overestimate how much you can fit into any given amount of time, so you’re constantly surprised when your shower takes you twice as long as you expected. Make a change by tracking your time for a few days. How long does your shower actually take? Is it realistic to expect that you can take the kids to school and still make it to your appointment by 9am? How long is that school journey? Take a look at where you’re really spending your time, and how much of it.
3. The Deadliner
Did you always leave revising for a big test until the night before you were due to take it? Do you leave work tasks until the week of their deadline? If you’re always late, too, this could be why. You thrive on last-minute pressure so you only allow yourself the minimum amount of time to get anywhere, but then you leave yourself vulnerable to potential obstacles. If you hit a traffic jam, your allotted 25-minute journey time can quickly increase. Get around this by forcing yourself to leave your house earlier than you think you need to. Set alarms as you get ready to leave, reminding yourself of the amount of time you have left.
4. The Indulger
This is you if you struggle to find the self-control you need to get out of bed at the correct time each morning. Hitting the snooze button and getting an extra 15 minutes in bed is simply more gratifying to you than getting up. But then you pay for this later down the line when you feel terrible for being late. So why not make being early enjoyable instead? Reward yourself every time you make it somewhere before the time you said you would.
5. The Absent-Minded
If you often misplace your keys, forget about appointments or get accused of seeming distracted, you may fall into this category. It might feel like absent-mindedness is out of your control, but there are tangible steps you can take to make things easier on yourself and everyone around you, too. Simply plan and prepare your days. The night before an appointment, check the time and the location. Plan your route. Set reminders and stick up post-it notes where you’ll see them to keep you on track.
6. The Rebel
Do you know you could be earlier for things, but you just don’t want to be? Perhaps you’re striking back against a boss you don’t like, or your friends simply haven’t told you off enough to make you feel like you really should change your ways. If there are issues at work, ask for a meeting with someone senior to see how they can be resolved. If you enjoy where you work, you’re more likely to make the effort to get there. And when it comes to your friends, ask them if it bothers them that you’re always late. Put yourself in their shoes and practise empathy. That should help you to start respecting their time, as you’d expect them to respect yours, too.
7. The Anxious
At the root of this type of late person is often low self-esteem. You subconsciously try to avoid situations that may make you uncomfortable by taking longer than you need to get ready. Perhaps you’re trying to find the perfect outfit, or you’re so concerned about getting lost that you simply put off leaving altogether. You may feel it best to seek professional support with your anxiety, but there are ways you can help yourself. Pinpoint the tasks that take you the longest in the morning. If it is picking out your clothes, do this the night before and lay out your outfit for the day.
Being punctual is seen as professional and respectful, and it’s likely to get you further in people’s estimations than if you’re seen as ‘the late one.’ Also, it just feels nicer! Try some of the tips listed above, and let us know in the comments below which ones you found most helpful.