Time is a precious resource. Some say it is the only resource we have. Have you ever missed something important because you came just a bit late? This happens to a lot of people, and sometimes too many times. The outcome can be very problematic.
There are some people I know who are always late. They are rushed, don’t think clearly and are in a total state of chaos. Many kids grow up in such households and learn to be the same when they grow up. Parents who are always late raise kids who do not value their own time and miss many opportunities.
I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date!
The White Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland
Being late from time to time is very natural. It is a good idea not to be in a total state of panic for being late by one second. It happens. We are only humans. The thing is, what you generally do becomes a habit. After three meetings that you turned up to, late or on time, gives you a label: punctual or always late!
People who are labeled as always late are not necessarily always late, but the attitude towards them is more negative. Can you think of a person you know who is always late? Your level of trust in them goes down. Things are harder for them as well! If they need to start every interaction by apologizing for being late, they are put in an inferior position right from the start.
All in all, being always late is not good for anyone. It creates negative attitudes towards you, which is not something any parent wants for their child.
How to stop being always late
Here are some tips to make sure you are not an “always late” person and you are not raising the “always late” kids:
- Work with to do lists, diaries and calendars. Check them every evening before bed and first thing in the morning. It will remind you of things you didn’t remember. Before bedtime, tell your kids what the plan is for the next day. Help them develop the habit of asking themselves, “What am I doing tomorrow?”
- Make sure your to do list is realistic. Take into consideration the commute. For example, it’s not realistic to write “Arrive home from work at 5:45 and dinner at 6:00”. It is not realistic to prepare dinner in 15 minutes, let alone greet everyone, set the table, put away your work things at the same time.
- Every time you look at your to do list, prioritize. This is a very important skill in life in general. Pick your battles. We can’t have everything set to a high priority.
- If possible, prepare things the night before. This will save you thinking time in the morning. A rushed morning can make the whole day seem chaotic. Some good examples that can be prepared the night before are: picking outfit, deciding what to have for lunch, packing a school bag.
- Do not allow “just one more”. Try to reduce things like: “just one more thing”, “just one more movie”, “just one more email”, “stay up just a little more”, “one more drink”. This idea of “just one more” is addictive and it dilutes the value of time.
- Learn to evaluate how long it takes you to do things. Before starting, estimate when you will finish. When you finish, check and compare. Do not be hard on yourself if you get it wrong. The more you practice, the better you will become. With kids, ask them to “guess” how long it will take you to make dinner, to hang the laundry, to drive to grandma. Once you’ve done it, check and compare. This is a good skill to have. I have clients who increased their business profit just by developing this one skill. Their quoting system was more accurate!
- Waiting is not a bad thing. Some people are late because they panic that they will get their early and have to wait for everyone to get there. Waiting is an opportunity to do the small things you can’t do like: send an SMS, talk to someone, clean your messages and clear some space on your mobile…
- Every person has a different time when they are “in the zone”. Some people work best early in the morning, others are night owls. Learn your best time and help your kids find theirs. Do not tell them that there is a right or wrong time. There is no such thing. We are all different.
- Always leave spare time for UPC (unplanned circumstances). If you need to be at school at 8:30, make plans to be there at 8:15. Why? Because Murphy’s law says there will always be unforeseen circumstances that will change your time table. Since these circumstances are unplanned and cannot be seen, you cannot prepare for them. Leave time to make sure you can still arrive on time if something unexpected happens.
- Make mini- deadlines. If you need to submit something large that is due in a little while, we use a technique called chunking down. You basically schedule mini- deadlines between now and your due date, so you don’t leave things to the last minute. This technique is very helpful for learning and your kids will highly benefit from it throughout their schooling and university.
Time is precious; make the best of every minute in it!