How to be early when you are perpetually late

You leave things to the last minute, find yourself at every red light on your route to work, never have enough time to eat breakfast or comb your hair, and you are perpetually late. Friends and co-workers expect it from you and your boss (if you’re so lucky) tolerates it on the basis of the entertaining excuses you come up with.

Running late sucks and it’s mighty embarrassing to show up last. You admire the person who arrives polished and early, coffee in hand and wonder just how they do it. It’s not magic; it takes effort, forethought and a genuine desire to be on time to do it.

While genetics and upbringing certainly have an impact on your ability to use time productively, they are not the “be all end all”. As much as I adore my parents, they are forever late. I have grown to accept it, but relatives and co-workers alike have started telling them dinner starts an hour earlier than the true time. Sneaky? Yes. Functional? Absolutely.

Remember the Golden Rule

Organized people prioritize and focus on being prompt. Not only do colleagues and their career depend on this, but it is the best way to show others ‘Hey! I’m on the ball’. When you arrive late you are basically saying to someone that you do not respect them or that their time is just as valuable as yours.

I always find myself running five minutes behind and am so fed up with forever fretting about finding parking, racing to make it and coming up with excuses to appease my boss, friend or colleague. Some people consider one minute after the designated time late — but you know when you’re late, and that sinking feeling doesn’t sit well.

So how does one alter this behavior for the better? Truth be told, it takes 21 days to change a habit. Set four separate alarms and get in the routine of waking at 7 am every day so you don’t oversleep Monday’s 9 am meeting. It is essential to plan your route prior to leaving for a scheduled appointment. This means incorporating and expecting traffic delays, catching every single red light and finding zero parking nearby and still managing to arrive on time.

Another option is to ask an “early bird” friend to give you a morning wake-up call. Even if you are long past the teenage years, having someone ‘mommy’ you long enough for you to get your act in gear may be the kick start you need! Friends are fantastic for giving blunt advice. Just ask your friend what trick they use to arrive early.

Enjoy the Perks

Reward yourself! Being the first person at the office has a refreshing and vitalizing feel. Not only do you feel composed and ready to take on the world, but you get to chuckle at the late people fumbling with their briefcase, coffee, and paperwork as they race to prepare for the day. I get a kick out of making to-do lists — limiting myself to six tasks. Why six? It’s been said that six is the maximum number of things a person can retain at any given time.

Setting your clocks ahead by 5 or ten minutes can help create a buffer. If it’s better for you to visualize a benefit of arriving on time, think of work as a celebration of your merit. If you weighed as heavily on the importance of arriving early to work as you would to accept a fat cheque or scholarship, chances are you’d be there with bells on.

Be your own mentor

Rushed folks race around looking stern and self-important. It doesn’t exactly radiate a ‘come chat with me’ kind of vibe. Colleagues appreciate and prefer to work with level-headed peers. And bosses certainly notice who’s able to maintain their composure under pressure. When it comes to setting deadlines, those who recognize that a task takes double and a half the time you might expect, will find themselves most effective.

Slip on your boss’s shoes. Would you prefer to choose the ‘early’ person who meets deadlines or somewhat of a mixed bag as an employee? Give your peers and supervisors only good things to say about you. Communication is imperative if you are running late. It shows respect if you call or email (as embarrassing as being late can be) to admit your fault and accept responsibility. People can expect the worst, and giving them the consideration makes your lack of punctuality slightly less offensive.

Value your professional image

Your career is what you spend the majority of your time doing, so it is imperative that you do it well. Purchase a sizable day-planner that can help you accurately outline your daily tasks and actually use it. Mine does wonders as a vault filled with contacts, emails and deadlines, and I would be simply lost without it. Punctuality is the number one thing you can accomplish to allow people to perceive you as effortlessly composed, organized and resourceful.

Become the person you admire, if only so someone else can consider you a role model.

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cbythesea@shaw.ca    www.bcadayatatime.com

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