Are you regularly late to appointments? This is perhaps my all time worst pet peeve: people who are constantly late. Sure, we all are late at one time or another, but for the person who is habitually late, it is simply rude, inconsiderate, and selfish, with little or no real excuse for it.
Some people have argued it is a sociopathic disorder. Maybe so. Regardless of the reason, I believe it is manageable if not curable, and no different for some people than losing weight. You just have to care enough to make up your mind to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation.
On the surface, people who are constantly late don’t seem to care about themselves or others, no matter how many times they are scolded and joked about. It just goes in one ear and out the other. So what can be done?
1. Change your attitude. Before any of the tips that follow can be successful, you must change your attitude and mindset about being late. You must recognize and care about how it affects others.
For instance, when you are late, it often throws the timeline and agenda off schedule. It is most rude to have people waiting for you to show up and then having everything else that follows be late, too.
Once you recognize this as a bad habit, only then will you be on the road to recovery.
2. Begin in stages. Begin by posting a written pledge to yourself—on your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator, or someplace visible at all times—that for a period of one week, from this date to this date, you will make every effort to be on time for every appointment.
Monitor your progress at the end of each day in writing and make written notes of any adjustments you need to improve. Just thinking about it doesn’t cut it, because your thoughts are too easily forgotten.
At the end of the first week, give your self a big smile and a pat on the back. Relax in knowing you have actively taken the first steps to improving your life. Thereafter, just keep going for another week, understanding practice makes perfect. Once you can go two weeks without being late, then set the goal for one month and so on. Believe it or not, soon you will be on the path of success and will rarely be late again. These techniques do work.
3. Plan ahead.
From this point forward, you will never be scrambling at the last minute, which may have been among the reasons you were late. Get prepared one or more days ahead of time by using the following tips:
- Make yourself a written checklist and timeline to follow, and follow it to help you get on the right path to success
- Organize a permanent place in your home or office for fast getaways. Always set your regular pocket items such as wallet, keys, briefcase, and purse there.
- Set out exactly what you want to wear at least one or two days ahead. This will give you time to get items cleaned or ironed.
- Set up a place, within easy grabbing distance, for all items needed for the day of the appointment.
- Each morning, listen to the radio or television, or look up online the latest weather conditions and traffic reports to determine whether you will have to leave your house earlier than usual.
- Pay attention to the news for major local events that will impact your normal routes across town.
- When preparing for important appointments, anticipate that things will take double the time you think and allow the extra time, just in case. If you get done sooner, relax and have an extra cup of coffee or sit and relax.
- If you are sleep deprived, get to sleep earlier the night before. Instead of doing one or two extra tasks at night, jot them down so you won’t forget to do them the next day. If you have trouble getting up in the morning, seek professional help to get this problem under control.
- Until you are well established in a routine of not being late in the morning, set your alarm clock to get up one hour early to allow plenty of time to get ready and leave.
- If you enjoy a cup of coffee or breakfast at home, get a coffee maker with an alarm and prepare and set it the night before. It’s the closest thing to having room service in the morning.
- Plan to leave your house or office at least 30 minutes earlier than you have in the past, for every appointment. Your new rule is now “better early than late.” In fact, I’m happier to be someplace even 30 minutes early than to be one minute late.
If you’re late anyway:
1. Call the person to let him or her know. Because we all have cell phones now, there is absolutely no excuse for not doing so. Inform the person as to approximately how long you will be delayed, so he or she will know when next to expect you.
2. When you arrive, do not make a big fuss over being late. For meetings in progress, enter the room and take a seat quietly. When appropriate, apologize for being late with a one-sentence reason for your delay. When you are sorry and apologize, and your apology is accepted, it means you acknowledge your mistake and will not repeat it. Otherwise, the apology is meaningless.
QUESTION OF THE MONTH: Are you a person or do you know people who are constantly late? How do you feel and what do you think of about him/her always being late? What tips do you have to share to help others not be late? And when you are late, how have you gracefully recovered? I’d love to hear from you.