How to Stop Being Late to Everything
When You’re Always Late
Then there are those of us who are NEVER on time for anything. We’re always “running late” and are lucky to bustle through the door when things are getting started.
We’re the ones who arrive and have to hunt for seats or apologize to the people who were waiting for us. If we ever make it on time, it’s a cause for celebration. If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you no longer want to fit so squarely in the second category.
You want to be one of those families that gets out the door on time, without any tears or shouting. And you want it to be done in a way that can actually be maintained over time. If you and your family suffer from chronic tardiness, here are a few tips you can use to stop being late to everything.
Admit You Have a Lateness Problem
As with any type of change, the first step is realizing that a change is necessary. This means you need to recognize and accept that being late is problematic and that you and your family are chronically tardy. Think about the ways that being late causes issues for you, your family, and others. Here are some of the problems that may arise:
- You always have to struggle to find things you need once you get there because the people who were on time claimed them. This could be seats, space, materials, or anything else that is in limited supply.
- You feel stressed out and irritated at having to rush.
- You often forget things in your rush to get somewhere.
- When you arrive late, you have to disturb others while you try to get settled.
- People have to wait for you to arrive, which can have a negative ripple effect.
- You have to work harder to catch up with all the things on your to-do list.
- You fall behind on your to-do list.
Identify the Root of Your Tardiness
Often, we give surface excuses for why we are late to things. But the problem is that these surface reasons are just symptoms of a bigger issue.
- What you say: “My kids move as slow as a turtle!”
- What you mean: “My family doesn’t have a good routine for getting out of the door.” What you say: “My alarm clock didn’t wake me up!” What you mean: “My alarm clock went off, but I hit snooze 5 times before realizing that I really needed to get up. “ What you say: “We hit terrible traffic!” What you mean: “I usually leave the house at the last possible minute to get where I need to be, but this time we got stuck in traffic.” What you say: “I completely forgot about this until an hour ago!” What you mean: “I never write things down and depend on my memory or people reminding me about stuff.” What you say: “I got caught up doing other things and time got away from me!” What you mean: “I don’t keep track of time.”These are some of the reasons we give for being late. However, these are not the real reasons we are late. They are simply symptoms of the REAL issue. In order to address your tardiness problem, you need to get to the root of it.
Create an Action Plan
Once you’ve figured out WHY you’re always late, it’s time to create a plan to make sure it doesn’t happen anymore. For example,
If you’re always late because your kids dawdle and prolong the process of getting out the door… your action plan could be to start getting them ready an hour earlier than usual. Or to have them dressed and ready for the day by a certain time in the morning. That way, when it’s time to go, you won’t have to worry about their pace because they’ll be ready to roll. You could also implement a routine so that they know EXACTLY what they need to do each day, step by step. This could include making bake-ahead breakfasts that you can heat and eat, getting outfits ready the night before, putting everything you need to get out of the door in an easily accessible place, and even giving your kids a reward if they are completely ready to go by a certain time. You may have to go through this routine with them several times before it becomes a habit, but it’s worth it.
If you’re always late because you hit the alarm clock several times… set an alarm and put the phone or clock on the other side of the room. This way, you have to physically get out of bed to turn it off. This reduces the chances that you will just hit snooze. If it helps, as soon as you wake up (BEFORE you turn off the alarm), go to the bathroom and splash water in your face to increase your alertness. I would also recommend setting your alarm to the highest volume and regularly changing the alarm type so that it is harder for you to ignore it. It’s easy to ignore things you hear all the time, so switching it up can help.
If you’re always late because you get stuck in traffic… plan to leave 30-60 minutes early and use an app to check traffic conditions en route to your destination. This can not only help you map out your time, but could also give you notice of whether you should take another route.
If you’re always late because you have a terrible memory… write down all of your meetings, events, appointments, etc in a planner and take it with you everywhere. Make a habit of checking your planner every night before bed as well as every morning when you wake up. This will help you map out your time better.
If you’re always late because you get caught up doing other things… use an app like Brain Focus that helps you do things in chunks of time. Once the time for that task is over, you will get an alert so you know it’s time to stop and move on to the next task. Actively using a time management app can help you to plan out your time in a way that enables productivity.
I hope this helps you and your family to become one of the ones that’s always on time. If there are any other life skills that you think your family needs to practice, I invite you to become part of the SkillTrek family where we are all about teaching kids the life skills they need to thrive in the world.