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Get Organised: how to Cure Your Chronic Lateness

Get Organised Nov 1, 2015

how to be on time

If this year has been about anything, it’s been trying to identifying everyday  stresses and trying to improve on them – I’ve somewhat mastered getting up earlier, disconnecting from the digital world, and (trying) to include some principles of mindfulness in daily life. But these are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of a relaxed and productive life – still so much to work on. A few months ago I realised a major contributor of stress to my days was because of always being late.  I’m not exactly a horrendously late person, but consistently slightly late – those 15 minutes being anxiety filled moments of jogging in heels and frantically writing emails to apologise.

And so, when a few months ago the gorgeous Swedish watch brand Larsson & Jennings asked me if I wanted to try out their new watch collection, I said yes of course. What better way to embrace perfectly minimalist wrist wear than a commitment to overcoming chronic lateness?

Wearing: Larsson & Jennings Lader watch, vintage wide leg trousers, Witchery denim jacket, Grana tank, Celine bag

In case you’re ambivalent about lateness (like I used to be), a quick survey of all the people around me (parents, boyfriend, brother, friends and girls in the studio) found that not one person was okay about when someone else is late, even those people who are chronically late themselves. In general it was felt that being late is a) rude b) always puts you on a back foot in a business sense and c) adds completely unnecessary stress to your day. So yeah, time to move on from that! Read on to see how.

Step 1. Consider other people’s time

Because, at the end of the day, this is what it boils down to. Everyone’s time is precious, no matter who they are, and by being late you make it seem like their time doesn’t matter as much as yours. I guess it’s taken a while for me to think of it like this (I used to think being late was fine and no one was impacted), but once you emphasise this in your own head, the easier it is to prioritise being on time. It’s helped me. Obviously the closer you are to someone the more understanding they will be of a little lateness (something I used to take advantage of!), but surely we should be on time for people we love just as much as for our clients?

Step 2. Understand why you’re always late
There are so many reasons for being late, but often you’ll find chronic lateness the result of one or two major things you do. Often they will come down to your personality type, like: are you distracted? Over productive? Or perhaps anxious? Think about what you’re late to and when, and understand the reasons behind your lateness. For me, it’s about never leaving enough time, and overcommitting the time before I have to go. Think, why are you always late?

Step 3. Give yourself enough time
After asking a lot of people I know, most of them said one of the biggest mistakes they make in being on time is not planning well enough to get to a meeting or appointment. Yep, that’s me too. Because let’s be honest, that ‘The traffic is really bad and I’m running late’ message really just means ‘I failed to plan for the traffic’ or ‘I left only enough time if everything went smoothly’.  So work out properly how much time you need and add a little more time for contingency purposes. Turn off Netflix and leave the house already! Oh and make sure you don’t schedule your appointments too closely together or you’ll have a crazy domino effect of lateness which is the worst.

Step 4. Don’t overburden yourself prior to leaving
This has always been my biggest downfall. In day to day life I’m all about efficiency, which often meant I was trying to tick off as much of my list as possible before leaving for a meeting. And yes, that meant usually being late. These days I try to make smaller, more targeted lists focusing on the one or two key things that need to be done prior to leaving. And learning to put the pen down even if something isn’t finished. I’ve also started trying to schedule my meetings first thing in the morning, when I won’t have that problem as much.

Step 5. Don’t lose track of time
This is also one of the biggest contributors to lateness, you get bogged down in something and forget you have to leave. Placing reminders everywhere – on your wrist (this one or this one are my picks) or on your phone or computer are a great idea. Setting your watch/clock back ten minutes is an old trick but still legit!

Step 6. Location, location, location
If you’re in business or a freelancer you’ll know about the back and forth that happens when 2 parties are trying to set a meeting location that makes it easiest to get to. Having them come to you is the ultimate (our new studio makes that easier), but even somewhere in the middle can help greatly. Understand the situation properly (some clients will always want you to come to them, and if they’re paying you rightly so) and try to set a place that’s easy to get to whilst also being respectful of who you’re meeting. On the other hand, if you want to go all out for someone, offer to come to them regardless of the time implications (a little goes a long way).

And if you are late…
It happens to be best of us and the goal here is to be as helpful and efficient with the person you’re meeting. From experience you need to try to tell the person as soon as you know you will be late, giving them a chance to reschedule. Also, don’t underestimate how late you’re going to be. Incremental messages of ‘I’m going to be ten minutes late’ up until 40 mins has elapsed are painful and annoying. If you think you’ll be very late, ask if they want to reschedule – ‘aint nobody got time to sit around waiting! And even if you are late, when you arrive apologise but also try to maintain your composure. Nothing worse than someone arriving all panicked!

Larsson & Jennings Lader black watch, Karen Walker sunglasses.

Wearing Larsson & Jennings CM gold watch, Witchery khaki silk shirt, Ray Ban Sunglasses.

I’ve been busy applying these steps to my every day, and hoping to be one of those people who can proudly proclaim ‘I’m always early’ to people which I meet them… Not quite there yet but hoping I will be soon. Now tell me, what type of person are you? Always late or always early or a little in between? Do you have any tips for me?

Interested in getting organised in other parts of your life? Read about your inbox and your computer.

This post is in collaboration with Larsson & Jennings. They now do free shipping to Australia, there’s clearly no better time to invest in being on time. 🙂

 

Photos by Nicola Lemmon.

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