Being late is rarely about just being late. Oftentimes, it’s related to fear of downtime and/or a lack of time management skills. We’re all given the same 24 hours in a day. Yet some of us have that polished capacity to arrive with enough time before morning meetings to brew a fresh coffee. While others’ scrambled entrance is flustered and chaotic.
Not that tardiness is always negative. In fact, according to Quartz, there’s an upside to being that person who’s always late: It means you’re incredibly optimistic. But wouldn’t it be considerably less stressful to see the glass half full while arriving on time? According to these five time-management tips from MakeSpace (a convenient alternative to self-storage units in Chicago, NYC, LA, and Washington, DC), it’s possible:
1. Plan your week before you’re in it
It’s all too often that we find ourselves at 2 PM on a Thursday, rushing to meet deadlines that seemed eons away on Monday morning. It’s this last-minute, “must-get-done-now” feeling that often leaks into our personal lives, and causes us to be late to other places. Combat that pressure by planning out your week on a Sunday night or Monday morning. Use a “brain-dump” to determine your high priorities, then figure out where they’ll fit into your calendar. This will make it easier to check off your weekly assignments, leaving space for any last-minute tasks that pop up. Which brings us to the second tip …
2. Prioritize and schedule your most important tasks
The problem: You have a million things that came up last minute, all of which you know you need to complete by tomorrow. You also have a dinner party after work that your significant other begged you not to be late for (again).
The solution: Take advantage of some free time in the evening before, and jot down a to-do list.
Sounds like a no brainer, right? But here’s the kicker:
Give each task on that to-do list a sub-deadline. Break down each big, important task (your “Most Important Tasks,” or M.I.T.) into smaller, more manageable tasks. Then, give those smaller tasks a time limit. HubSpot uses the typical M.I.T. example of creating a slideshow presentation. Breaking it down into sub-deadlines would look like this:
“9:00 – 10:00 am: outline the presentation
10:00 – 11:30 am: write copy for the presentation
11:30 – 12:30 pm: create all images for the presentation
12:30 pm: lunch w/ Jack”
Keep your sub-deadline schedule nearby, or in a web-based app like 42goals. Or set a timer for each task to keep you alert and attentive. Studies have shown the Pomodoro technique to be highly effective for this. It works like this:
- Work for 25 minutes, known as one “pomodoro.” Rest for five minutes. After you finish four pomodori, take a longer break to recharge.
- You can alter the time according to your own personal attention span. Test the technique out on yourself with Moosti.
These small but powerful swaps will hold you accountable to yourself, and keep your personal timing in check.
3. Hope for the best — but expect the worst
Remember what we said about the overlap between optimism and chronic tardiness? Here’s where it’s helpful to keep that idealism in check: Elite Daily notes that people who are optimistic are often late because they believe they can do more things with the time they have.
Let’s say Tom Tardy has 45 minutes for his 40-minute commute. As an optimist, he truly believes those extra five minutes can be used to pop into his favorite coffee shop. And while we don’t want to rain on Tom’s parade – there’s plenty of upsides to being an optimist, like a significantly high health score – there are some tweaks he can make to be more attentive. He could take into account that the coffee shop might have a longer line than usual, for example. Or that traffic is heavy today. Or that he’s running low on gas. And given that he’s on a time crunch, Tom would be better off without trying to squeeze any extra tasks in. By leaving early enough to “plan for trouble,” Tom staves off any potential issues that could stand in between him and arriving on time.
4. Embrace a daily routine
What do Anna Wintor, Oprah, and the German public transportation system have in common? They all have a routine they stick to, which allows them to always be on time. Getting into the swing of a routine that works for your lifestyle will allow for structure that fosters punctuality.
5. Try these four life hacks for an extra productivity boost
If all else fails and you’re still struggling to arrive on time, try some of these simple hacks:
- Clutter hurts your productivity. So, declutter your entryway. Then designate a spot by the door to hold all your daily must-haves like keys, your wallet, a backup umbrella, and reading materials for the commute. You can grab stuff without wasting any time searching, or making sure you have everything. That extra 30 seconds could be the difference between missing and making your train.
- Set all your clocks ahead by different times. It’s the age-old procrastinator trick, with a twist. Set your oven’s clock five minutes ahead, your microwave three, your living room clock seven, etc. You’ll trick yourself into leaving on time, since you won’t be certain which clock actually has the right time.
- Use a special alarm so you never miss a morning meeting again. You can use an alarm that tracks your sleep and wakes you up when you’re in your sleep cycle’s prime. Or use “the world’s most annoying alarm app” that won’t stop ringing until you’ve taken a photo … outside of your bedroom.
- Schedule built-in overflow time. Just as you should give yourself plenty of time to arrive somewhere, schedule plenty of time on your calendar for tasks. This simple tweak just might be your superpower secret to solving any mid-morning crises that threaten to overtake your day. Like your monthly expense report that was due yesterday.
Life Made Simple would like to thank MakeSpace for this excellent guest blog post. I will definitely be taking some of these tips to heart! Check out the MakeSpace website for a simple and innovative way to move and store your furniture and other items.