Do you have trouble meeting deadlines or are you always running late?
If so, there’s a day just for you! Sept. 5 was "Be Late for Something Day." In keeping with the spirit of the occasion, this column is coming to you one day late, on Sept. 6.
In their book "Boundaries," Henry Cloud and John Townsend describe chronic lateness as a problem of not setting limits or boundaries on ourselves. They describe "eleventh-hour people" as constantly on the edge of deadlines, not having enough hours to accomplish their tasks, and for whom the word "early" doesn’t seem to be part of their personal experience.
They propose that a possible cause is lack of training; some people have never learned to accept limits or to suffer the consequences of their actions.
If you can see yourself in these descriptions, and if you’re tired of missing deadlines, of being late, inconveniencing other people, or even missing a flight, that’s a good thing — you’re ready for change.
Barring deep-rooted psychological causes, these tips may help:
» Be realistic about time. Try to better estimate how long tasks, appointments, meetings, traffic, parking, even dressing, will take.
» Note the "drop dead" (absolute) deadline. If there is no deadline, give yourself one. Then set yourself an earlier "target" deadline. This will give you a cushion of time.
» Create a time line for yourself. Write down each step and estimate how long each will take. Working backward from your target deadline, write out when each step should be done. Add extra time for the unexpected.
» For one chronically late client, just writing "leave" in his schedule at the designated time was all that was needed to get him out the door and on his way.
If it’s important, strive to get it done and get there on time. Your adrenaline glands will get a rest and your heart won’t miss the usual stress. Since "Be Late for Something Day" is past, let’s start "Be on Time Day," or even "Be Early for Something Day!"
Ruth Wong owns Organization Plus. Contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.