Have you struggled with chronic lateness? Wouldn’t it be nice to fix your reputation and finally stop inconveniencing everyone else? Here’s how to change your reputation and drop chronic lateness once and for all.
- Do you often miss the first part of your gym class or meetings?
- Is it common to walk into appointments 5-10 minutes late (or more!)?
- Do you drop your kids off at their activities when all the other kids have already gotten started?
- How often do you find yourself saying, “Sorry I’m late!”?
Chronic lateness is an issue that can create more problems in your personal and professional life. First, it’s disrespectful to others. It causes tension and disappointment in relationships. And further, it reflects poorly on your time management skills.
So what can you do about it?
In order to fix the habits that are contributing to your chronic lateness, you must first understand what’s causing it in the first place.
Common Causes For Chronic Lateness
Lateness is an indication that something is out-of-whack with your time management. However, time management isn’t a one-size-fits-all issue. Everyone has different styles when it comes to how they manage priorities, attend to details, and take action.
Our Time and Space Style Inventory identifies six different time management style preferences. Understanding your styles will allow you to implement a solution that is sustainable because it works with your approach. Otherwise, it’s likely that you’ll revert back to your old ways.
For example, someone who tends to put things off until the last minute (which we call the Cliff Hanger style) often finds themselves struggling with chronic lateness for obvious reasons. Does this sound familiar?
Or maybe you tend to get hyper-focused on the task at hand, making it difficult to shut down and move on according to a schedule. Perfectionists make themselves late by spending too much time on the wrong stuff trying to get it just right.
Chronic lateness can happen to folks on the other side of the Time Style Continuum as well. Perhaps you don’t like to keep a detailed schedule because you are more of an impulsive person or a big-picture thinker. Trying to multi-task or hop from one thing to another can also make you late because it’s difficult to wrap things up and transition.
Which of these causes of chronic lateness do you relate to? Consider taking the Time and Space Style Inventory to learn more about your personal time management preferences, and get recommendations specific to your styles.
As you can see, there are as many causes for chronic lateness as there are time management styles. However, there are some common habits that lead directly to lateness and other time management struggles, including…
- Lack of structure and routine
- Trying to cram too much in
- Not scheduling prep time or transition time
- Too many calendars
- Misestimating how long things take
The last one is an extremely common issue, which brings me to my top recommendation for fixing chronic lateness.
The #1 Fix for Chronic Lateness
In order to manage your time effectively and stop being late, you have to get a realistic picture of how long things take.
This may sound simple, but we are surprisingly bad at it.
How often do you think, “I’ll just do one last thing. It will only take a few minutes.” Then, you look at the clock and 15 minutes has simply disappeared!
When I work with clients on this process, I have them estimate the time something will take. Then I tell them to double it and add half. If you think it’s going to take 10 minutes to take a shower, it will probably take 25.
If you think you can do a “quick” trip to the store in 45 minutes, it will probably take at least an hour and a half. Practice overestimating the time something will take, and you’re likely to be a lot closer.
To take this to the next level, recognize that when other people are involved, the amount of time it takes to prepare or transition is exponentially longer.
Being on time when you have kids is significantly different than when you are on your own. This can be true for your team or group as well. The more people that are involved, the longer things take.
Time estimating is a skill that is worth improving, no matter what time management style you are. Adding effective time estimates to other solutions that match your style will shift your chronic lateness to predictable promptness!
Take The TSSI
Get started on fixing your time management challenges, including chronic lateness, by taking the Time and Space Style Inventory. It will highlight the common issues you likely face and how they are linked to your personal time management style preferences. More importantly, it will give you recommendations for steps you can take to create better flow and greater productivity in your day.
Imagine feeling on top of things and having someone say “thanks so much for being on time!”
It IS possible! Change your reputation by learning more about what makes you late. Fix it one step at a time.
Don’t beat yourself up for being a “late person.” Just recognize the underlying causes and work within your time management style to create a sustainable solution.