New York lingerie designer Carolyn Keating was thrilled to land a job
interview with Victoria's Secret. She knew that being on time was essential to
making a good impression, but there was just one problem. "I had written
down the address wrong. I meant to check it the night before on the computer,
but I didn't." When Keating finally arrived at the correct address, she was
30 minutes late. "I felt embarrassed and it really flustered me," she
tells WebMD. "I carried that insecure, worried, flustered energy throughout
the interview." She didn't get the job.
Another time, Keating and several friends showed up 15 minutes late to a
colleague's wedding. "The bride was already at the alter. She was basically
saying 'I do' when we tumbled in, and it's hard for six or seven people to
tiptoe in quietly. We were worried that we ruined the most important day of her
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For some people, being on time seems nearly impossible -- no matter how
important the event. They're always running out the door in a frenzy, arriving
everywhere at least 10 minutes late. If this sounds like you, have you ever
wished you could break the pattern? According to Julie Morgenstern, author of
Time Management From the Inside Out, the first step is to make
promptness a conscious priority.
"Look at the costs of being late and the payoffs of being on time,"
Morgenstern advises. She says it's important to recognize that being late is
upsetting to others and stressful for the one who is late. "I think
people's stress level is very high when they're late. They're racing, worried,
and anxious. They spend the first few minutes apologizing. One of the payoffs
of being on time is that you eliminate the stress of the travel time and you
eliminate the time spent apologizing."
The Consequences of Being Late
The consequences of being chronically late run deeper than many people
realize, according to psychologist Linda Sapadin, PhD, author of Master
Your Fears. "You're creating a reputation for yourself, and it's not
the best reputation to be establishing. People feel they can't trust you or
rely on you, so it impacts relationships. It also impacts self-esteem."
Once you feel motivated to make a change, Morgenstern says the next step is
to figure out why you're always late. The reason can usually be classified as
either technical or psychological.
"If you're always late by a different amount of time -- five minutes
sometimes, 15, or even 40 minutes other times -- it is likely that the cause is
technical," Morgenstern tells WebMD. "That means you are not good at
estimating how long things take," whether it's drive times or routine
activities like taking a shower.