Step 1: Uncover the Hidden Cause
To stop running late, the first thing is to understand what motivates you to run late. When you’re late, there is always a reason. Bad habits often continue when you’re not aware of the real reasons behind them.
For example, years ago I used to find myself running late for business networking meetings. At the last minute before heading out to the meeting I would always start fussing around with my make-up or clothes because I was not confident about the way I looked. Once I realized that’s what I was consistently doing, I could ponder the reason openly with myself. I stopped denying the true root cause of the problem. It was a vicious cycle because being late also made me feel less confident in myself. Spending time at the last minute to worry about my image was not helping.
My coach helped me reflect honestly on my own behaviour. Once I realized what I was doing, I could work directly on feeling more confident about my image and make a more conscious decision to be on time.
Some of the common reasons people are habitually late are:
- fear they will make a mistake
- fear they will look bad
- fear of being judged
- fear of interacting with strangers/colleagues/seniors etc.
- wanting to seem busy or important
- wanting to attract attention
It’s useful to remember that when you are late, there is always a reason. Once you uncover the reason and endorse it, it’s possible to take steps consciously to resolve it.
Step 2: Create New Habits
If you have been running late habitually, you’ll need to create some brand new habits to replace the old ones that aren’t working. You’ll have to do things differently enough that you don’t accidentally fall into the same old traps.
To find the best new habits, start by looking at your whole scheduling process including your diary, calendar, to do list, reminder systems, time-telling systems, support environment and thinking habits. What’s missing in the system? What isn’t working?
Here are some simple examples of changes you can make that target specific problems in your scheduling systems.
- Schedule longer buffer times between appointments;
- Plan to arrive 5 minutes early and use any extra time on arrival to calm yourself and clear your mind;
- Get a new “to do list” system that is a) more portable, b) more comprehensive, c) more attractive, d) sets priorities, e) whatever else specifically works for you;
- Change the location of your lists and reminders;
- Sort your lists differently so that the priorities are clearer;
- Get a new watch or clock that attracts your attention or is more pleasing;
- Use computer or telephone features to create visual or audio reminders;
- Change your work so that you don’t need to attend meetings that don’t thrill you.
Remember that you can enlist other people into your changes. Think about ways that your colleagues, family and friends can help. Afterall, they will probably benefit from you being on time. Here are some ideas of how this could work.
- Ask a friend to accompany you to appointments that make you nervous;
- Have a friend or colleague perk up your confidence before your meetings;
- Ask your assistant to remind you earlier for meetings;
- Delegate meetings that you prefer not to attend;
- Arrange for the attention or recognition you desire by setting better boundaries in your life.
Step 3: Implement the Changes
Implement the changes and be sure to assess their effectiveness. Often the new system you have designed will not work exactly as planned. Reflect and readjust until the system works. It’s very helpful to use the support of a coach during this process. A coach can help you reflect on what you’re doing, provide different ideas, encouragement and keep you accountable.
Do you run late? Is being late a symptom of an unresolved fear or unmet need that you are now ready to resolve? Would being on time have multiple benefits in your life?
If yes, then I encourage you to call me. I’ll be pleased to help you understand how I can support you in this process of being on time.
Tel: +852 8103-7326 in Hong Kong
angela (at) loving-your-work.com