I can not believe she did it again! We were meeting at 2 pm, it’s almost three and I am still here by myself. What if something happened? What if she can’t make it? What if she is already on her way?
The frustration, anger, helplessness and acceptance were rushing through me as I was waiting for my friend to show up at the downtown square. She was two hours late. This happened before cell phones and emails. Yes, I am that old, haha! While waiting for her, I thought I should have run to the pay phone and call her home. What would have I achieved? I would have cause worry to her grandma who’d have picked up the phone. And I could have missed my friend, who, being late herself, might have thought I left already. So I stayed. It was hard to have a conversation like nothing happened but I forgave her eventually. That’s what friends are for, right?
Truth to be told, once I didn’t wait. She showed up an hour and a half late and waited for me for another hour and a half. Was she furious! At that point we could have stopped being a friend at all, things like that happen easily when you are seventeen. I valued her friendship more than anything, so we made up and I always waited for her, starting that day.
This friend of mine has passed away to cancer and the memory of seeing her rushing through the downtown square to meet with me is still warm in my heart. We were friends since first grade, she was a part of my life for a long time. She taught me there is more to being late than simply being an undisciplined person.
A person who knows nothing of discipline would not have graduated both high school and college with honors. She wouldn’t be able to crochet whimsical designs and stretch a penny so far if she was not disciplined.
She taught me that being on time is a problem of a different matter.
The understanding of this came to me when I realized that even if I leave later than usual and do not speed on the highway, I can still make it on time, sometimes half the time. It still sounds woo-woo even to myself, but it is true. I am never late.
I have this built-in respect for people’s time and life, so to be late for me equals robbing them of their lives. Every minute I am late, I waste somebody else’s life. No pressure. LOL.
I was always stressed out, having a job, the college, completing the Master’s Thesis and teaching third grade. Always trying to be everywhere on time.
Fast forward a couple of decades, I am still on time. I am not stressed or worried. I know I will be there when I need to be there. The time itself has got my back.
WOAH! Lady! What are you talking about?
This is pretty weird but bear with me for a bit more.
Did you notice how the time slows down and just drags itself while you are trying to complete a task that is no fun? It is so slow you can feel the pain of every second passing. I even had moments when I would stare at a clock to only realize that it took forever for that second to blink. It goes like this: look at a clock, see it says 47 seconds to a minute, look away, look back and it’s still 47 seconds to the minute and HOLDING!!! Then I snap out of it and the seconds continue to flow the way they normally would.
I believe that when I am on my way to get somewhere, I also fall into that state of longer seconds.
I like to think of time as a river, with everything that a river can offer. The river that will bring me where I need to be when I need to be there. But, that doesn’t help you much when you are not in the flow, do not believe there is a river and are often late.
You boss is upset and your friends just snort when you promise you will not be late ever again.
So, where to start?
Being fashionably late is not the same as being late for a business meeting, correct? We all are way too well familiar with a waiting room procedure when having a doctor’s appointment. Remember that feeling that someone very particular doesn’t care about your time. Remember that you can almost feel those minutes running through your fingers and the doctor is elsewhere hopefully doing their job. It doesn’t matter how long you have to wait. Ten minutes, twenty, or an hour. They are all pieces of your life. Now, get real. Every time you are late you are WASTING somebody else’s life’s minutes or hours. No wonder they are frustrated when you show up!
Always check how long it will take you to get to the meeting as soon as you put in on your calendar AND add a buffer to it plus 50% if meeting online or phone or 75% if driving. But what if I get there early? Well, yay to you! Bring a book, a project, listen to the music, use the 10 extra minutes to use the restroom, get a drink of water, fix your lipstick or your tie…
Break your projects into smaller chunks and consult with your planner after each is complete. If you are getting too close to the time you should be on your way, stop and, if you can, bring it with you or switch to a shorter task. Keep an eye on the clock, though. Set a timer if it would help you leave on time.
Apologize for real.
Don’t make excuses or false promises. Do acknowledge you are late and you understand the waiting party must feel frustrated. Apologize for not planning properly and tell them what it is you are going to do to prevent this from happening again. For example, leave 15 minutes earlier, book a cab 24 hours in advance, check the WiFi connection 30 minutes before the webinar.
Pay attention to yourself and how you flow through time. How you treat time. How you find time.
And then, when you find time, the time will find you.