Help for the Chronically Late
Experts explain why the key to being on time is understanding why you're always late.
Planning for Wait Time
For most people, running late has more to do with anxiety about where
they're going. "There's a fear factor in which people are anxious about
going at all or about getting there too early and having nothing to do,"
Morgenstern agrees. "There is a tremendous fear of downtime, an anxiety
associated with doing nothing and waiting." You know you're in this
category if you'd rather be late to a massage than spend one minute sitting in
the waiting room.
To overcome wait time anxiety, Morgenstern suggests planning "something
highly absorbing to do while you wait." Try to arrive at every appointment
10 or 15 minutes early and use the time for a specific activity, such as
writing notes to people, reading a novel, or catching up with friends on the
phone. This strategy can help convert dreaded wait time into time that is
productive and pleasurable, giving you an incentive to be on time.
Walking Out the Door
Finally, a deceptively simple tip from Morgenstern: Walk out the door on
time. She says many people try to avoid downtime by "shoving in one more
thing" just before they need to leave. She calls this the
"one-more-task syndrome" and says it's a major obstacle to being on
time. "If you really want to beat this, the minute you think of squeezing
in one more thing before you leave, just don't do it. Stop yourself in your
tracks, grab your bag and walk out the door."