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Six Steps to Conquer Your Habit of Being Late

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By Erika John - - 5 Mins Read


Many times, being late may not be an intentional action. However, failing to plan to be on time is planning to be late. Being tardy can cause stress, show disrespect, and incur costs. Lateness is estimated to cost U.S. businesses over $3 billion annually due to lost productivity. Surprisingly, 15 to 20 percent of people acknowledge being consistently late.


For years, Elise Volkmann adhered to her time zone, which she dubbed EST or Elise Standard Time. Those closest to her were aware that this meant she would inevitably arrive 15 minutes behind schedule. 


"I wasn't fond of it, but I didn't have a solution," admits Volkmann, a 30-year-old masseuse residing in Seattle. Then one day, she discovered the answer: she began departing from her residence at least 30 minutes before her intended arrival time and experienced the joy of not being rushed.


Similar to Volkmann, a lot of us have a persistent habit of being tardy - whether it's for work, dental and hair consultations, birthday celebrations, or any other event that has a designated start time.


According to experts, tardiness can stem from various factors such as specific personality traits or poor time management skills. One common cause is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is characterized by impulsivity and inattention. Mary Solanto, a professor of paediatrics and psychiatry, notes that chronic lateness is prevalent among individuals with ADHD, with some able to overcome it while others struggle to do so. Solanto further explains that individuals with ADHD often lack a sense of time and tend to be spontaneous rather than plan. 


Thankfully, there exist methods to conquer chronic tardiness, regardless of whether you have ADHD or find it challenging to prioritize being on time. The following are the preferred tactics of professionals.


A person resetting a smart watch



1. Calculate the precise duration required to reach a destination and then incorporate additional time.


Ellen Hendriksen, a clinical psychologist from Massachusetts, points out that individuals frequently miscalculate the duration it will take to arrive at their intended location. 


For instance, driving to the cinema may seem like a 20-minute trip, but this estimation does not consider potential traffic, searching for a parking spot, walking to the entrance, queueing to buy a ticket or snacks, locating the correct screen, and finally, getting comfortable in your seat. While it is advisable to use Google Maps to estimate travel time, it is essential not to disregard these transitional tasks.


2. Encircle yourself with clocks.


According to Rashelle Isip, a time management coach based in New York, while digital clocks are common, analog clocks provide a unique visual cue and allow you to witness the passage of time. Isip recommends displaying clocks in prominent locations where you spend your time, such as your living room and office. 


Additionally, even if you have access to the time on your phone, Isip advises against disregarding the usefulness of a traditional wristwatch. Wearing a wristwatch can encourage you to check the time regularly and ensure that your day is progressing as planned.


3. Set lots of alarms.


Solanto recommends this tip as one of her favorites for individuals with ADHD, although she acknowledges that it can benefit those who have difficulty with punctuality. Her advice is to set two alarms: one for when you need to begin preparing to leave and another for when you need to depart. 


Additionally, set an alarm for the time of your appointment. These regular alarms can serve as audible reminders to grab your attention if you become distracted and lose track of time.


4. Artificial deadlines can be established.


According to Sapadin, if you are someone who enjoys creating crises, you seek the excitement of a deadline. Therefore, it is recommended that you establish an earlier deadline for yourself. 


For instance, if you must leave the house at 7 pm, convince yourself that you will depart by 6:30 pm or face consequences. Sapadin acknowledges that this is a form of self-deception, but it is a tactic that many people use and find effective.


5. Before a pressing event, refrain from beginning an enjoyable or significant activity.


Solanto recommends avoiding immersing yourself in your preferred video game or starting a work assignment during the hour preceding your planned departure time. 


She notes that halting these activities can be difficult, particularly for individuals with ADHD. You may remain absorbed in the task for hours after your scheduled departure time.


6. Make a plan for what to do in case you arrive early.


According to Solanto, individuals with ADHD find waiting unbearable and may choose to arrive late instead of having idle time. To address this, it is recommended to bring a source of enjoyment, such as a magazine or a favorite game on your phone, to make the wait more tolerable. 


This tactic can also benefit perfectionists, as having something to anticipate can motivate them to leave home instead of obsessing over completing additional tasks.


If everything fails, consider choosing work at home or online schooling platforms. Furthermore, an online MBA should teach you more things about time management than any self-help posts


Here's a Bonus Tip: 


In case you are someone who values punctuality but has to interact with an individual who is habitually late, it is advisable to have a one-on-one conversation with them to address their tardiness. According to Isip, it is important to empathize with their situation and understand the challenges they might be facing. Additionally, discuss ways in which you can provide support. 


For instance, if you are planning a road trip together and need to depart at 10:30 am, agree to check in with each other around 10 am to ensure that preparations are on schedule. It is crucial to exercise patience as change does not happen overnight.