Chronic Lateness: 10 Ways to Stay On Schedule

Everyone runs late from time to time. There are a million and one things that can (and will) happen to make it impossible to get out of the door on time. If this is an “every-once-in-a-while” occurrence, it’s easily forgiven. However, if you suffer from chronic lateness, we have a problem. No matter what the reasoning behind the perpetual lateness is, the fact is it is a habit that is disruptive, disrespectful and downright aggravating. This is something we can ALL agree on.

Now, if you’re chronically late because you just can’t be bothered to be on time, then you’re probably not going to get much out of this article. But if you’re that person who tries time and time again to be on prompt to something, and no matter how hard you try, something happens and once again, you’re late. Not only are you late, but you’re stressed, embarrassed and there’s a domino effect of turmoil occurring inside you. The good news is – you’re not alone.

According to recent studies, those who are chronically late display symptoms closely associated with those who suffer from ADD and ADHD. “People who are chronically late are often wrestling with anxiety, distraction, ambivalence, or other internal psychological states,” says Pauline Wallin, Ph.D., a psychologist in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania who shared her insight with Refinery29.  The reasons behind their actions cannot be easily explained and more deeply-rooted than you “on time” people can comprehend. And even though chronic tardiness is something that cannot be remedied overnight, there are a number of tactics, routines and even some technology that can help you stop making excuses and stay on time. Who knows, you may even start showing up early!

Tip #1: Start Small

Tomorrow morning, vow to not sleep in or hit the snooze button on your alarm or phone; get up and get going. If you can’t commit to that simple task, then you’re not ready to commit to changing your behavior and you need some motivation. Consider making hitting the snooze button a difficult task. Move your phone or alarm clock away from your bed and put it on the opposite side of the room. Better yet, maybe what you need is a gadget like Ramos. Ramos is a clock that is sadistic in design. In order to shut the alarm completely off, you have to get out of bed, locate the beacon that is located somewhere in your house and then open up an app on your phone and enter in a code to completely turn it off. Sounds a bit torturous, but so is keeping others waiting on you time and time again.

Write down how long you think it takes and then write how long it really takes. If you’re like most people, you’ll be off by quite a bit.

Tip #2: Keep a Log

According to Diana DeLonzor, author of Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged, chronic latecomers underestimate how long things take by 25 to 30 percent. “Keep a log for a week of how long it really takes to, for instance, get dressed, commute to work or run an errand,” she shares. “Write down how long you think it takes and then write how long it really takes. If you’re like most people, you’ll be off by quite a bit. Log your new times and reset your task clock adjusting how much time you leave for each activity.”

Tip #3: Ditch the To Do List

You would think creating a “to do” list would help keep people organized, but these same lists often do more harm than good, especially for people who suffer from proper time management. Everything in their life ends up on this forever-scrolling list that seems to have no end. They spend all their time focusing on the list and not properly managing how much time is being devoted to each item on said list. If this sounds like your life, invest in an appointment book and schedule appointments with yourself. Block out a specific amount time to tackle tasks that have a higher priority than others. When you put it in this kind of perspective, you’re able to see just what is taking too much time and preventing you from being on time for other people, appointments and most importantly, work.

Tip #4: Cut Social Ties

Raise your hand if you’ve been late to something due to spending too much time on social media. Maybe you sat in bed in the dark, scrolling your news feed for hours on end only to realize it is 4 am and you need to be awake in 3 hours to get ready for work. It happens, and when it happens more often than it should, it’s time to ask yourself, “What’s more important? Seeing what happened in the Twitterverse today or showing up to work on time and not getting fired?” If social media is getting the best of you, then it’s time to say bye-bye to social media for a while.

Tip #5: Plan It Out

So you’ve mastered Tip #1 and you’re no longer hitting the snooze button, and you’ve purchased the appointment book and you’re starting to get the hang of it. Now it’s time to combine the two. Each morning, take 20-30 minutes and realistically plan out your day. For every call or appointment (or client) you have scheduled, add an additional 5 minutes to the start time so you have enough time beforehand to collect your thoughts, be completely organized and know exactly what needs to happen during that block of time.

Tip #6: Learn to Backtrack Time

Sounds easy, but it is extremely difficult for a lot of people to master. Let’s say you have a meeting or a client coming in at 10 am and you have to drop your son off at daycare before you go to the work. What time should you leave your house if it takes you 20 minutes to get to the salon from the daycare center and 15 minutes to get daycare center from your house? When you’re chronically late, you often forget that you need to allow additional time for getting yourself ready that morning, the little one ready, get everything packed up, account for any unforeseen travel delays, time to get him settled in and yourself back in the car. And let’s not forget the all-important necessity of picking up coffee through a drive-thru since you didn’t have time to brew a pot that morning. It’s these kinds of tasks that get lost when looking at the big picture. When you keep that log mentioned in Tip #2, learning how to backtrack isn’t as difficult as it may appear.

Tip #7: The Night Before

Getting ready in the morning is a difficult task for many. A lot of it has to do with spending too much time standing in your closet looking at rows of clothes and saying, “What the hell am I going to wear today?” Stop this constant behavior. Before you go to bed, select what you’re going to be wearing the next day right down to the shoes and the accessories. This will save you a load of time each and every morning. And if you are responsible for getting others ready, then do the same for them. Get outfits laid out, backpacks, lunches, and diaper bags packed. And if you travel out of town on a regular basis, then you better have that suitcase and carry-on bag packed the day before you leave.

Tip #8: Rethink Time

Measuring time is difficult, especially if you have ADD or ADHD. Sometimes the hands on a clock appear to be little dials dancing around. And digital clocks are just numbers being displayed in a different fashion over and over again. To really understand how important time is, a visual reference is not only beneficial but crucial to your time management. This is where the Time Timer comes into play. The Time Timer is a timer that consists of a red disc, and as time elapses, the red disk disappears. It gives you the ability to see the time appear and disappear before your very eyes. By developing a sense of visual urgency, you become more aware of how much time really exists thus allowing you to use it wisely and efficiently.

Tip #9: 15 Minute Rule

Guess what? From now on, you’re going to be 15 minutes early for everything. Whether it’s for work, an appointment or dinner with friends, you’re going to from now on be the early one. No, not the one who is on time, but the early bird getting the worm. By doing this, you’re going to slowly (but surely) change the opinion others have of you, and if you don’t think others have been judging you and your chronic lateness, then you’re fooling yourself.  And becoming the early bird is not going to be hard to achieve since you’re already implementing all the previous tips mentioned above into your life. If you need additional help, rely on your cell phone’s alarm clock since you have the ability to program multiple alarms with various alarm tones.

Tip #10: Start a Journal

This journal isn’t a time log or a book to keep track of this and that. You’ve already created one in Tip #2. No, this is a bonafide journal—a place to write down your ups and downs that occurred throughout the day; things that caught your eye and made you think. A book to put all those thoughts and ideas that could be clouding and confusing your mind; thoughts that could be preventing you from focusing on the more important tasks and to do’s that should have your full attention. We live in such a “go-go-go” way of life these days that it is often hard to take everything that has been put in front of us and break it down into ideas, dreams, rubbish and priorities. Journaling is not only an opportunity for you to dump all that “brain data” at the end of the day, it’s also a chance for you to see just how important and impactful your day was on you and on the people you encountered.

How do you stay organized and on time? We want to hear from you. Submit your tip or trick to and it may get featured in an upcoming story or on social media.

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