Ok, anyone who knows me will be rotfl at the title above! Because anyone who knows me also knows that I am chronically late. So why would I deem it fit to write about how to be be punctual?
Because, and please read this slowly for effect, I. Am. No. Longer. TARDY.
That's right. I kicked the habit. Gone. And I'm not trying to be funny. It's true.
So let's get some perspective here. I'm the kind of late where I'm about 15 to 20 minutes late ALL THE TIME. Sometimes even more than that!
Ok fine we get it, so how did you kick the habit?
I kicked the habit by being judgmental! That's right. You read right. A little bit of back story here. I go for Spanish classes here in Barcelona and as usual, I am always late. Sometimes even HALF AN HOUR LATE. But I never thought of that as a biggie because my rationale was, "Hey at least I'm still coming for class!"
That was well and good until one day, I joined a different group that had a girl who arrived even later than I! That means that this girl would walk into class sometimes 40 minutes late! I have to say, even though I was always late, seeing someone come so late isn't pretty. She was a hot mess! Rushing in, out of breath with a slightly flustered look that said her being late wasn't really her fault but something else. And I sat there. Judging her. Feeling superior. Until it hit me, that is me. I was a bloody hot mess.
I couldn't remember the last time I arrived somewhere not out of breath from rushing, an apology pouring out of my mouth for being late.
Yeah sure I have met other people who were later than I was, but seeing this happen consistently was different. It burned!!!
Being punctual, the steps.
So, what changed? First of all I started small.
- I just wanted to be on time for my morning class. I didn't make big grand statements about how I would never be late again. My goal was to just be on time for my class which started at 9.30am. Once I got the swing of that and was consistently on time for 1 week, I decided to branch out to other appointments. Then;
- I made being on time an obsession. It was all I would think about. I didn't just hope to be on time, I was a woman on a mission! I timed everything. If I wanted to be there by 9.30am, I had to leave my flat by latest 9.10am. I timed how long it would take me to walk to the metro, how long the metro ride was, how long it would take me to brisk walk to class and to relax walk to class. Yes. Seriously.
- However long I thought it would take me to get to class, I doubled it. So in the beginning, before i timed the journey, if I thought that getting to class took 15 minutes (go figure, every tardy person has an extremely skewed sense of time) I would double that and leave home 30 minutes early. After I knew exactly how long it would take me,
- I had a 'leave by' time. My leave by time is 9.10am. I have to get my arse out the door by that time no matter what. Even if I didn't have breakfast or wash my face or change my underwear. And if that fails,
- Have a backup plan! Let's be real here. Shit happens. And it did one day when I slept through my alarm and woke up at 8.45am. My backup plan involves taking a cab. Which means I can leave the flat a little bit later, like at 9.20am. And also,
- I allow myself to be 5 minutes late. SOMETIMES. And if I am anything later than that I am allowed to feel bad enough about myself so that I try harder next time.
Now I know, being late isn't always about not leaving on time. Sometimes I would wake up early and have every intention of being on time but I still end up late. Ever have that? Well, this is what I did.
Remember the part of about being OBSESSED? That is real. I made being on time for this class like it was the only thing holding the world together. Like it was the only thing keeping a zombie apocalypse from happening. Like it every time I was late, a baby died.
Some things that would help:
- I mentally planned everything the night before. I outlined what I would have for breakfast, how I would make it, what time I should start eating in order not to rush. I would plan what I wanted to wear so that I wouldn't have to try on 3 different outfits.
- I would set my alarm 15 minutes before the time I wanted to wake up and allow myself ONE snooze. This was a hard one! I am the queen of snooze! I once snoozed for 2 hours! But remember that obsession part? That helped a lot. The snooze allowed for my body to know that it was time to get up but I didn't have to jolt myself awake. The second time my alarm came on, I would get out of bed before I could rationalize anything. Just roll out, even if you have to roll yourself off the bed, down to the floor. By the time you pick yourself up, you might as well get up! :D
- No doing last minute things. I had a few things I had to do before getting out of the house. Wash up, get dressed, eat breakfast, check bag (to see if I have everything in it) and get the heck out! Nothing else was allowed. No, let me just check my email, or let me wash the dishes, or let me water the plants. No! If I had something important that needed to be done, I'd plan it the night before and allow time for it. I have no idea why in the past, it would suddenly be so damn important for me to do that lassssttt one thing even though I knew it would make me late. It wasn't important.
What can I say. This worked. I started being on time for class. Now I'm usually the first one there because I'm usually about 3-5 minutes EARLY! And that's a big deal for me. In fact, I haven't been late for anything in a while now. Now I wait for people, which is fun because I get to gloat and feel special. :D
My morning routine has also expanded to fit in yoga and I haven't missed yoga or been late to class. And for those of you who are late because you do 'last minute things', remember the 'leave by' rule. Always have a leave by time and when you get to that time, drop everything and get your butt out!
Ok, this has become a really long post but I want you guys to apply it to your situation and try it. And let me know if it works for you. I really want to know if this can be duplicated.
And remember, be obsessed about being on time!