This may surprise you coming from a time management coach…but I used to be late.
ALL the time.
We’re talking the kind of late where your friends tell you to come an hour before the party starts, so you’ll actually be there on time.
For a while, it was funny. It was just something I wrote off as another one of my Anna-isms. But it got old fast, and it didn’t feel good. I was tired of feeling stressed and even a little embarrassed about my tardiness. I’d ask myself, “Why can’t I be on time?”
If you can believe it, that used to be me MOST of my life, so know that what I’m about to share with you only comes from a place of love…because I know what it’s like to be the punchline of the “chronically late” joke.
While I was late for years, I also know just how freeing it can be when you start showing up on time. (Plus, it’s fun to see the shock on your friends’ and family’s faces when you roll up right on time!)
If you’re ready to break up with this “tardy trend” and be on time more often, grab your pen and notepad because we’re going right into the good stuff!
Why can’t I be on time?: Get to the root
I have important news for you: Being late isn’t the problem. It almost always is something else. At least, that’s what I found was true of myself and true with several of my coaching clients. To stop being late, you have to get to the root cause of things, which always starts with checking in internally.
And according to Diana Delonzer, who wrote Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged, there are seven types of late people. If you’re asking yourself “Why can’t I be on time?” then read on.
#1: The Rationalizer
This person is always late but doesn’t really see it as an issue. There’s always an excuse or reason why, reasons that seem to be outside of their control…like traffic. They’ll probably only admit to being late by “just a few minutes” to make their tardiness seem not so bad.
#2: The Producer
They always have way too much on their plate, and if they can just squeeze onnnnne more thing into those two minutes they have before they head out the door, they’ll be fine. They hate wasting time and want to do as much as humanly possible.
But they never are fine because those two minutes turn into ten, and they are ultimately late everywhere… and wondering “why can’t I be on time?”
#3: The Deadliner
You’ll recognize this person as the master of procrastination. They’re always waiting until the last minute to get things done because they think they do best when working under pressure and love the rush of that race to the finish line.
The problem is, most people actually aren’t as good under pressure as they think they are (don’t worry, talking to myself too on this one!)
#4: The Indulger
These folks LOVE the snooze button and don’t seem to have a good grasp on time. They may have a hard time motivating themselves in general and that may manifest in other areas of their lives.
#5: The Absent Minded
Whoops! Looks like something was forgotten…again. Whether that’s when and where things are happening, where their keys are, or that there was a deadline today, this person will surely forget it. This person may also be easily distracted during work or while spending time with others.
#6: The Rebel
They could be on time if they wanted to, but they’d rather resist the authority they feel is forcing them to be on time.
#7: The Anxious
And finally, we have the anxious person who is late because they spend a lot of time obsessing over perfection, which either comes from a place of low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression, and thus, shows up late more often than not.
Being late — Anna style
Me personally? I’ve been them all. I’ve been a Rationalizer because I was somehow convinced that nobody else had the same traffic I did. I’ve been a Producer because I’ve tried to get WAY MORE done than what I really had time for.
I sometimes still even lean towards the Deadliner by underestimating my time at work!
But if I can go from being chronically late to being a time management coach that teaches others how to NOT be late, I know you can kick this bad habit too.
Why can’t I be on time?: The fix
Let’s take a look at how you can turn these weaknesses into a strength.
If you’re a rationalizer…
The first step is to admit that YOU’RE the problem.
Get realistic about how long things take, even if it’s just something small like getting dressed in the morning. Think through every little task you do during the day, and how long they take. Write it down and put it on a calendar if you have to!
The biggest obstacle for you to overcome is not being realistic enough.
If you’re a producer…
You’re probably WAY too busy. I know it’s hard, but you probably need to part ways with some of the things on your plate. Or commit to fewer things moving forward.
And know that your value doesn’t come from how much you can get done, though I know it can certainly feel that way, especially in the midst of a busy season. But you can’t be perfect, and that’s okay. You’re enough as you are, whether you’re productive or not.
If you’re a deadliner…
Then part of the reason you are always late and pushing things to the last minute is because you love the rush that comes with it. You may be craving some sort of simulation or excitement, or you may just be bored.
If that’s you, find something different to bring that excitement to your life. Fill your free time with a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try. And schedule it close to your deadline so you’re more driven to finish your task!
If you’re an indulger…
You may have the same motivating factors as a deadliner, but you’re just not as adamant about getting things done. Instead of looking at your to-do list like a never-ending chore list, schedule some time to indulge in doing nothing.
Scheduling rewards into your day can keep you from OVER indulging and wasting time.
If you’re an absent minder…
Do the small stuff that will make a big impact. Set alarms or reminders, and make calendars your best friend. Sometimes it’s just as simple as writing it down, or putting items you frequently lose track of in a spot you know you won’t forget. You have a lot going on, so why not minimize the distractions?
If you’re a rebel…
Everyone’s motivation for rebelling against being on time is different, but it usually lies in wanting a leg up, resisting authority, or wanting to feel different.
If that last one sounds like you, know that the least interesting thing about you is your tardiness. You are so much more than that and have plenty of other things about you that makes you unique. You’re more interesting than being the punchline of a running late joke!
And if it’s another reason, get honest with yourself. Is it friend conflict, work stress, or issues with commitment? Getting deep with the real issue can help you figure out how to solve it.
If you’re the anxious type…
Have a good strategy to help you pinpoint where and when you get tripped up on perfectionism or avoidance, and find ways to plan around them. Allow yourself extra time if you need to, and don’t forget to give yourself grace.
But because this one may be a little bit deeper than the others, I just want to say that if you feel like self-esteem, anxiety, or depression is keeping you from living your life and holding you back in debilitating ways, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. They can help you identify the real root cause of what’s going on and forge a different path forward.
Why can’t I be on time?: Kick the habit
Chances are, you’re probably a mix of a few of these, but regardless, I can tell you that breaking out of the habit of being late isn’t as hard as you may think. And it can actually be fun and rewarding!
And if you need help getting started with all of this…my Get a Game Plan Course is a step-by-step guide that will help you design your ideal week and determine exactly what you need to build a solid foundation for better time management!
Never again wonder “why can’t I be on time?” I’m telling you, friend, getting a game plan together is one of the best things you can do for beating the chronically late blues!
In this episode, we talk about:
- “Why can’t I be on time?” The truth behind your tardiness
- The 7 types of late people (and how to figure out which one you are)
- How to turn your biggest time management weakness into a strength
- The benefits of being on time (and no, it doesn’t make you boring!)
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