Being Late

Have you asked yourself why you’re always late? Have others asked you this same thing, or worse, berated you for constantly being late? If so, I’ll throw out a guess that it’s happened more than once. Wish you were on time? Well, stop wishing and change it.

Admit You’ve Got A Problem

Step one in the journey to never being late again is to admit that you’ve got a problem… yep, we’re going to look at this as a step by step, self help guide. So, step one, admit to yourself that yes, constantly being late IS a problem! The longer you’ve developed the habit of being late, just like any other habit, the more difficult it will be to break. Being late is not only an inherently bad habit, in my opinion, but it is supremely disrespectful to others. There is nothing more valuable in a person’s life than the only commodity that cannot be purchased – time. When you’re late for an engagement with someone, you’re wasting their time and that’s about as disrespectful as you can be without blatantly talking about their mother during dinner.

Why Am I Late?

Step two, define the reason, or reasons why you’re late. Is it really as simple as spying a few habitual actions? Maybe. There are undoubtedly certain things that come in to play on a day to day basis that are causing you to be late. Do you have poor time management? Do you just misjudge how long it takes to accomplish tasks or drive time? Do you have issues leaving the house because you’re jumping from one task to another? Is it always something out of your control that’s causing you to be late? If it’s that last one…it’s time to stop kidding yourself and trying to fool others. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions and stop blaming the result -being late- on circumstance.

If you’re consistently ten or fifteen minutes late, this is purely psychological. You are choosing exactly when you depart and thus, when you arrive. If you fall in to this category you may have difficulty admitting that you are in total control of instantly fixing this problem by fixing how you think, but trust me, it is the truth.

Identifying the reasons you’re late is of the utmost importance in breaking this habit. If you don’t know why you’re doing something, or are not even aware of it in the first place, how can you expect to change? Really take some time and figure this out. Look at your typical day and times you’re consistently late and begin to identify patterns of behavior you can change. The difficulty of the change, at this point, does not matter. If it’s little things you can tweak to make a tiny difference, take note of it because it may be more significant than you think.

Fix. It.

Step three, begin implementing changes. If you’ve identified that you’re always scrambling to leave on time every morning for work, how do you fix that? What can you change? Well, lets look at some of the simplest solutions:

    • Wake up ten minutes earlier
    • Do NOT use snooze
    • Plan your morning the night before, exactly what you’re going to do, what you’ll wear and what you’ll eat and do not deviate from this plan
    • Plan on being fifteen minutes early – if you’re right on time, you’re late

None of the above bullet points in and of themselves are complex, are they? No. I guarantee that if you implement even one of them, and stick with it, your lateness will be cured. The problem is that we’re speaking of someone who is chronically late so, while these solutions are not complex in nature, they are difficult to live out.

If you are someone who sleeps in until the last possible moment and it’s causing you to be late, the most difficult solution to implement will be waking up ten minutes earlier! I guarantee, though, that it will be worth it.

If you’re the person who constantly runs around prior to an appointment taking care of everything under the sun except leaving on time, simply following a plan to the T will be amazingly difficult, but again, totally worth it.

If you are always ten minutes late…just late enough to actually be late but not so late that you can’t try to justify it with another excuse… Again, this is absolutely one hundred percent psychological. Stop it! Leave fifteen minutes early – problem solved. If being early gives you anxiety, as it does to some, bring a book to read while you’re waiting. Make a phone call, find something that you can occupy yourself with for ten minutes and still show up five minutes early. Again, in this situation, more than likely this will be a difficult solution to implement, but it is a game changer.

Not only not being late but being early is one of the greatest habits you can develop in life! If you’ve never tried it, I highly suggest it. It will pay off in spades. The best that can come from being early is that you will look great to whomever you’re meeting. You’ll no longer have the habit of stealing the valuable time of other people and breeding resentment. The worst that can come from being early? Nobody will notice. If you’re the person who is expected to be late it can’t feel good. But if you develop the habit of being early, it’s more than likely that nobody will notice this at all after a while and if that’s the worst that can happen from developing this new habit, well, I think that’s pretty great.

What has worked for you or people you know to help break the habit of being late? Please share via email and comments!

4 thoughts on “Being Late

  1. cjb

    Sigh….Did you write this article for me?!?!?!?!

    I’ve been trying to change this for a long time. I admit, I used to be one of those people that were on time or early for everything….everything.

    In 1999, I had Cancer, nothing to serious, it was treatable and I’ve been fine since….but something happened to me. I always feel rushed or like I just don’t have enough time or that life is passing me by or that I can get one more doggie kiss….or one more load of laundry…or read one more article (and that’s been really bad since I found finance blogs).

    I workout at home and get up at 4:30. I’d like to get my workout started by 6:30 but usually don’t start until 7 and that’s because I don’t plan. I know that’s part of my problem (revelation as I type this) and the time I could save if I packed my lunch the night before or got my workout notes ready before I went to bed or even got them all gathered up on the weekend when I’m sitting on my butt vegging out in front of the TV watching Hulu. Hum.

    What is that comment….fail to plan, plan to fail….oh…I should work better at planning. It’s doing wonders for my budget…planning. At least I have that done. Goal now….work on planning.

    Thanks for this….

    1. Joel Post author

      First off, I’m glad the cancer is a thing of the past, let’s keep it that way, shall we!?

      When you wrote your comment, why did you draw a correspondence with being on time –> then having cancer –> then being late?

      You seem to know exactly where your issues lie when it comes to your time management AND what your solutions are! Next step…as you well know, DO them. Even doing them one by one, so as to not seem as daunting will start you on the path to changing your life for the better.

      Tonight, choose one item you mentioned, whether it be organizing your workout notes for tomorrow morning or something else, do it, and reap the benefits in the morning. Starting slow or starting extreme…doesn’t matter. Starting is what’s important.

      Let me know how it goes!

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