Good timekeeping: it’s a skill many of us strive to have. It can be incredibly frustrating when, no matter how meticulously you plan your day or how early you set your alarm, you always seem to trip up at the final hurdle, thanks to some last minute rush. Sound familiar?
While some may say that good timekeeping is a skill you’re born with – and if you don’t posses it, then you just have to learn to live with your tardiness – Grace Pacie, author of Late! A Timebender’s Guide To Why We Are Late And How We Can Change (Punchline, £11) thinks differently. According to Gracie, anyone can learn to get time back on their side with a few simple mindset shifts and lifestyle changes.
If you are ready to shed your reputation as ‘the-one-who-is-always-late’ for good, read on for some top tips on improving your timekeeping skills…
6 good timekeeping tips
1. Be accountable to someone
It’s never good to be late, but at least when you’re the only one with a certain deadline, you don’t have to worry about letting someone else down. On the flip side, if you share a deadline with others and you don’t meet the deadline in time, the repercussions of being tardy are likely to be greater.
So, while it might seem scary, partnering up with someone on a deadline can actually be a great way to improve your timekeeping skills, as you will probably feel more spurred on to meet the deadline and avoid letting them down.
As Gracie explains: ‘If others are tied to the same deadline as you, you don’t have to rely on your own adrenaline to get you moving. Having a partner when a deadline gets close is a help for us, but terrible for them if we are late, so good timekeeping skills are a must!’
2. Have others rely on you
Similarly, why not put yourself in a position of responsibility for others. As Amy suggests: ‘Another trick is to offer someone a lift when you are due to meet a group, because then your deadline is the time you arranged to meet them, not the event itself. You may be a little late picking them up, so add time for this.’
By feeling the weight of responsibility for someone else’s arrival time, you’re more likely to prioritise good timekeeping skills above anything else. You don’t want your tardiness to also reflect badly on them, after all!
3. Pay to be prompt
It’s easy to think that good timekeeping isn’t particularly important when it comes to your own personal schedule. However, if you add a monetary value to timekeeping, you are far more likely to nip your tardiness in the bud.
Gracie suggests: ‘If you don’t have someone to team up with, can you employ someone? If you can’t get to the gym in time for a class, hire a personal trainer – you won’t want to waste your money by being late. Or, if you never file your tax return on time, get a bookkeeper to help you do it.’
4. Be productive while you wait
Do you find that you’re often late because you don’t want to waste your time waiting around when you arrive? ‘One of the most common reasons we are late is because we see being early as a waste of time,’ Gracie says.
To overcome this, Gracie suggests focusing on something you want to do before the event. This way, your time spent waiting won’t feel like a waste – it’ll probably feel more like a gift! ‘Catch up on the news, learn a language or read a book in this time. If you want more calm in your life, use waiting time to practise meditation and mindfulness,’ Gracie adds.
5. Schedule a pre-event event
Similarly, to ensure you’re on time for the event itself, why not schedule an earlier event just before? This way, you’ll be where you need to be, plus you have a scheduled slot of time to spend on something enjoyable or productive.
Gracie suggests: ‘If you are a people person, arrange to meet someone for a coffee and a catch up before your main event. Promise yourself a certain amount of time for it. Tell yourself “I need to get to my class by 7:45am, so I can catch up with my friend first”.’
6. Set an earlier deadline for good timekeeping skills
Many people are guilty of leaving work until the last minute, then being fuelled by stress as the deadline edges its way closer towards you. To avoid this highly unenjoyable situation, why not simply make a new deadline before the final deadline, and work towards this one instead? As Gracie explains: ‘When the consequences of being late are unthinkable, set your first deadline as early as possible. This limits the length of your stress.’
Not only does this apply to work deadlines, but you can also apply it to real-life situations where good timekeeping is essential. For example, Gracie suggests that if you are catching a flight, avoid driving yourself to the airport: ‘You don’t want your first deadline to be when check-in closes. If you’re late, you’ve lost the holiday! Instead, set an earlier deadline by asking a friend to drive you.’
Late! A Timebender’s Guide To Why We Are Late And How We Can Change by Grace G Pacie (Punchline, £11) is out now.