Maybe this is a familiar scene: you try to give yourself plenty of time to get somewhere at a certain point, but somehow you just always seem to end up in a panicked rush to get there at the last minute. Why are some people just so bad at timekeeping? More to the point: what can you do to break this habit? If the story of your life is messaging the person you’re on your way to meet to tell them you’re running 10 minutes behind schedule, then read on…
Aim to be Early
OK, this may sound very obvious, but one of the best ways to avoid being late for something is to get ready and plan as though your arrival time is earlier than it actually is. If you’re prone to overshooting your intended time of arrival when it comes to appointments, make a point of leaving way ahead of time so that even if you do encounter a setback or delay, you’ll still be on track to be punctual. If you’re the sort of person who tends to lose track of time altogether, try an app such as Interruptive, which will phone you at a pre-determined time to ensure you know exactly when you need to leave.
Set Realistic Estimates
If you have an idea in your head about how long it takes to travel to a place or complete a specific part of your morning routine, add on another half of that estimate again! Very often, people with bad punctuality find themselves running out of time because they have naïve estimates of how long it will take them to complete a task. Addressing this honestly will help you set targets that are more likely to be accomplished.
Wear a Watch
Maybe it’s a psychological trick, but having the "physical presence" of time right there on your wrist makes it pretty hard to ignore the warning signs that you’re running late! Rather than glancing at the clock on your phone or laptop screen every now and then, wearing a watch can be a great way to keep you in check. That being said, don’t buy into a false economy of a cheap, poorly-made watch, as that could end up making you even later! According to this helpful fact guide, watch retailers Chrono24 believe you can pick up a quality, brand-name watch such as Seiko for as little as $100, so you don’t even need a Rolex budget to enjoy a great quality timepiece.
Stop Multitasking (when you’re in a hurry!)
How many times have you been heading out the door and remembered you still had wet laundry in the machine or a garbage can to empty? Multitasking distracts you from whatever original goal you started – it’s a form of procrastination – so chances are that if you’re on schedule to be someplace and you abandon this to complete another objective, you’ll end up being late after all. Although it feels intuitive to tackle your errands so that it won’t weigh on your mind, it actually produces the opposite effect; if you do spend those minutes hastily doing chores before you leave the house, you will ultimately feel more stressed as you make up for it by rushing to your next appointment.
Ditch the Excuses
It’s often said that people who have poor timekeeping are psychologically 'giving themselves permission' to excuse their lack of punctuality. Lateness can be a major turnoff and being late for a first date can be a dating destroyer for some. It’s tempting to offer a host of justifications for our tardiness: "the traffic was crazy"; "I couldn’t find my house keys"; "I had to take an important call"; but if you want to break the habit of a lifetime, be honest with yourself and ditch the excuses.
Next time you find yourself in the situation of failing to be on time, admit responsibility and acknowledge the gravity of your shortcoming as well as the negative implication it has on others and their perception of you. Over time, you will gradually become more adverse to feeling this way, which will, in turn, give you a greater sense of urgency and importance when it comes to being on time.