Preventing Chronic Lateness

Are you chronically late?  Do you start out each morning with the vow that today you’re going to arrive everywhere on time, only to let yourself down, day after day?

Here are some thoughts that might help.

Chronic lateness is generally caused by two errors of judgment.  One is not knowing how much time it’s going to take you to get ready.  The other is not prioritizing your time prior to leaving.

Let’s start with error #1: not knowing how much time it’s going to take you to get ready.   Suppose you need to be at work at 9 am.  You think that if you wake up at 7 am, you should have no trouble getting to work on time, but in fact you never do.  You may not be giving yourself enough time.

The only sure way to know how long it takes you to get ready is to write down your morning routine.   List everything you typically do from the time you wake up until the time you leave for work, then write down how long you think each step takes.  The next day, as you go through your routine, write down the actual start and end time of each step on your list.  Were you correct in your estimates?  I’m guessing that you were off on many of them.  You may have even forgotten to include some steps.  Make sure you add those to your list.

How long does it actually take you to get to work?  Document that as well.  Is it 30 minutes if the train is running on time, but 40 minutes if it isn’t?  If a delayed train occurs at least weekly, then it’s best to include the longer time in your calculations.  You will save yourself a lot of stress if you build in that cushion.

So now that you know exactly how long your morning routine is, as well as your worst case travel time, you know what time you need to wake up.  If that feels too early, then see what steps in your routine can be done the night before, such as choosing your outfit, packing your bag, or making your lunch.

Let’s move on to error #2: not prioritizing your time prior to leaving.  Do you know the expression “Put in the Big Rocks First”?  (If not, you can read my earlier post of that name.)   Since you’ve calculated your wakeup time based on your actual routine, you really don’t have any space in your schedule to do other things.   I recommend that you do everything in your usual routine first, then see if there’s any extra time left to do anything additional. Keep your focus on getting ready.  Otherwise you may end up rushing and causing yourself stress.

This example used the case of getting ready for work in the morning.  But you can apply this same methodology to any time of day and any place to which you want to arrive on time.  Just figure out how much time you’ll need to get ready, and make sure you keep your focus and put in the big rocks first.

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