Alone In Your Time Zone

Are you plagued by chronic lateness? Here's how to tell -- and what you can do to change.

perception of time — how much you have and how to use it. Here are a few of DeLonzor’s recommendations:

Keep a time log. For a week or two, write down how long it actually takes to complete tasks and to get to where you have to be. Use a watch or clock to actually time yourself, and be as detailed as possible: How long do you really take in the shower? How long does it take to brush your teeth or to get completely dressed? Compare how long things actually take to what you previously assumed. According to DeLonzor, chronically late people tend to underestimate the passage of time.

Choose a mantra. Some examples: “Does this really need to be done now?” “Is this really my priority?” “Things don’t have to be perfect.” Many chronically late people lose track of time because they are focused on filling every moment with activity. For example, a chronically late person knows they have 25 minutes to make an appointment, and they can get there in 20 minutes. Instead of leaving five minutes early, they choose to use the extra time to get something done (clear the dishes out of the sink, and maybe wipe down the counters — and the floor could use a quick sweeping…), rather than arrive at their appointment a couple of minutes early.

This “just-in-time” mentality results in lateness because it leaves no margin for error or unexpected delays. DeLonzor’s advice: The next time you are rushing to do “just one more thing” as a deadline approaches, stop for one second, take a deep breath, and repeat your mantra. This will help you break from mindless activity and be conscious of the time, allowing you to focus on your priority — staying on schedule.

Walk on the wild side — try being early. “Chronically late people have a subconscious belief that being early is a waste of time,” says DeLonzor. “To them, it makes absolutely no sense to do anything until it absolutely must be done.”

To change this mindset, each morning, write down three things you’ll do early that day — for example, picking up your dry cleaning before you run out of clothes for work, or paying a bill before the due date. Each week, try to complete a task a day before the deadline. Or choose one meeting a month, and find out what it’s like to be sitting calmly at the conference table, relaxing with a cup of coffee, 10 minutes early, instead of the usual stress and embarrassment of frantically rushing in 10 minutes late. Once you get a taste of the benefits of punctuality, it will motivate you to trade the adrenaline rush of chasing the clock for the confident power of being in control of your life.

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