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5 Tips for Getting Anywhere on Time

You guys are probably sensing a theme right now. Yes, I'm focusing on lateness this week -- first discussing whether the occasional less-than-punctual arrival is a big deal, then listing some fabulous real-world excuses for tardiness.

On a more serious note today, let's talk about chronic lateness and how to tackle it. An estimated 15 to 20 percent of us are usually running late.

For many of them, being unable to get somewhere punctually isn't just a function of poor time management. Often, there are deeper issues going on.

Sometimes habitual lateness is due to personality. It can also be because you have trouble realistically assessing how much you can do in a given time -- or because you perceive time differently than other people, based either on cultural differences, innate wiring, or even a disorder such as ADHD.

But whatever the reason, being chronically late can play havoc on your social life, your career, and even your self-esteem. Luckily, there are some effective steps you can take to seize control of your inner, dysfunctional clock.

  • Try doing things ahead of time and pay attention to how liberating it can feel.
  • Plan to be 15 minutes early for engagements -- then you'll probably be on the dot. If you're early, spend that time with a book or some to-do items.
  • Make a daily plan, with a written schedule of your activities with start and end time estimates. This helps you see what you really have time for. Punctuality expert Diana DeLonzor said most people underestimate how long it takes to do something by about 30 percent.
  • Set up a system of rewards and penalties. If you're late to meet a friend, agree that coffee is on you. Or, if you've made lots of progress, reward yourself.
  • Create mantras, such as, "It won't get any easier in five minutes," instead of hitting the snooze alarm for the fifth time.
Any other tips you have for the habitually late? Pass them on to other Team Taskmaster readers in the comments section.

(image by Aldaron via Flickr, CC 2.0)

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