You know that friend of yours who is always running late? And they always have a reason why they just couldn’t make it on time? Well, that used to me.
Earlier this year, I really wanted to turn over a new leaf. I was determined to kick this bad habit of mine. I wanted to respect other people’s time, but most of all, I wanted to be less stressed.
How I came to be Tardy
I wasn’t always late. In fact, my parents are sticklers for showing up early for every thing. If a family event starts at 7am. We will be there at 6:30am, while other people are still dragging their butts in at 9:00am. Every single time.
For me, being late started in college. I used to live on campus and was literally 5 minutes away from my classes. Have I ever mentioned how much I love to sleep? Well, I’d sleep in until the last possible minute and then dragged my butt to class. If class started at 8:00am, I got up at 7:45am, maybe I’d snooze once. Sure, I’d probably get into class 5 – 10 minutes late. But I just took my seat in the back and the lecture just started, anyway.
Since I was late to class, I applied my same not-so-great habit to most other events in my life. I started showing up late to labs, tutorials, group meetings, then social outings and everything else. Then, my friends just started to expect me to show up late (not that I blame them), so they might show up later, too.
It was a vicious cycle.
If you have tardy friends, you might be running late, only to end up getting there earlier than them. Which is great at first, but then you give yourself a pat on the back, and forget that you technically were late. And so you cut it even closer next time. And then next time, you may be meeting up with an “on-time” friend, and you super late. Doh!
When I was travelling, ALL my travel buddies were perpetually late. I would be freaked out as I was running 20 minutes late, so I’d take a cab instead of finishing my trip on public transit trip, only to end up waiting another 30 – 45 minutes for everyone else to show up.
This is not to excuse my tardy behaviour. But it’s me trying to figure out why I never broke out of my cycle.
How to Break out of the Cycle
Cut down on commitments. Instead of having events booked up one after another, I just made committments to things important to me. Besides, if you’re all booked up and late for one appointment, likely all your following appointments will experience the “domino” effect, and next thing you know, you don’t even remember what it was like to be on-time.
Prioritize. You don’t have to say “Yes” to everything. It’s OK to say no when you don’t want to do something, or it’s not important to you. Others will just have to deal.
Give yourself more time. Google maps tells you it’s going to take 30 minutes to get from A to B. Is it likely you will encounter traffic? What about road construction? If you are taking public transportation, have you accounted for wait times and transfer times?
Trick yourself. If your appointment is at 7:00pm, why not pretend it’s half an hour or 45 minutes earlier so you won’t be so rushed. That’s what I usually do, and it has helped me immensly.
Respect. Remind yourself that showing up ontime shows your respect for that perons’s time. You are busy. Your friends are busy, too. By showing up on time, you are showing that you respect their time and in turn, you respect them.
Entertainment. Have something to do if you get there early. I know this sounds silly but I used to think I was inefficient if I got to a meeting early. If this is the case for you, too, try bringing something to do. Bring a book to read, a crossword/soduku/Angry birds/ whatever, or just explore the area around where you are waiting. Relax. And remind yourself how much calmer it is not to rush and enjoy your extra time.
It’s hard to earn back trust if your perpetually late. I know that my family still expect me to be late all the time, and my excuses/reasons fall on deaf ears now. It’s similar to the boy who cried wolf. If you are late too many times, no one will believe your reaoson when you eventually actually may have a good reason to be late.
Are you or were you a tardy person? What were your reasons for being tardy? If you are an early person or on-time person, please feel free to share some tips!