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Health & Balance

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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," Sapadin says.

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."

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Reviewed on August 25, 2008

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