Everybody owns a phone these days, and almost everyone either write or say the words ”Running a little late, be there in 5. Sorry.” somewhat frequently.
For you who prefer listening to reading, this post is also available as an episode of the “Done!” podcast:
Back in the days of not being able to communicate to one another as easily as now, our delays had more noticeable consequences since the person waiting for us could be standing waiting in uncertainty and bad weather for quite some time.
Nowadays we tend to think that being on time is not such a big deal anymore since we can always send a text message with our ”ETA” (meaning, our ”Estimated Time of Arrival”) as the agreed meeting time approaches.
The unpredictable we could predict
But the one who has the attitude of ”no worries” often finds that the road to the meeting is not always as straight as assumed, but littered with obstacles in the form of all sorts of things that tend to show up with bad timing, holding us up and making us late.
We think of something we urgently need to fix just when we are about to leave. Someone stops us in the hall and asks us about something ”while you are here anyway”. Suddenly there is a traffic jam since all these other people are heading the same direction as you are.
We are delayed, we feel stressed, we arrive late, we step in half-way through the meeting, we apologize, we missed the first part of it, we ask questions already answered before our late arrival, and we receive looks by other participants that speaks volumes on what they feel about our tardiness.
Be ahead of yourself
Would you not agree that it is much more pleasant to be on time than being late? Well then, what can we do to prevent these unforeseen obstacles delaying us? If we want to ensure that these seemingly small hindrances do not throw us off completely, we do best in increasing our foresight. Once we are running late, there is not much more to do than just that — run.
But if we make doing a few things that increase our foresight into a habit, then we will have to make a whole lot fewer of those involuntary sprints we often have to run to make the appointments we are late for.
Here are three habits which will help us be on time.
- Have a look at the next day’s schedule the night before. Does the day commence as usual or do your have a special and very early meeting which you booked several week ago and which you more or less had forgotten about? Will you be short on time while moving between two meetings and hence have to make sure that you do not stop to chat with your favorite colleague after leaving the first one?
But how will you remember to have a glance at tomorrow’s schedule every night? If you want to, you can establish this particular habit by randomly rewarding yourself in a way I have written about previously.
- When you book your meetings, make sure to also include the time you will need for transporting yourself to and from the meeting. Some digital calendars allow you to specify the time needed for traveling in the booking itself, and thereafter include it in your daily schedule. You can also add a manual booking that will represent the travel time.
You will do best to double-check the time it takes to get to and from locations by using a map-service rather than just winging it (at least if you know that you have been wrong about your estimations on previous occasion). Personally I usually use the directions-feature of Google Maps. And remember to add a little time margin, just in case.
- Set a reminder to remind you of the meeting, but turn off the option of repeating it for all calendar bookings and appointments. If you use the reminder-function too often it will eventually not be as useful as it could. If it makes visual and auditory reminders at random to remind of absolutely everything you have scheduled in the calendar, you will eventually ignore the signal or automatically press ”snooze” (or its equivalent) when the alarm sounds, and continue whatever you were doing when it went off.
And, realize it was reminding you of something important this time when you are already late. This is why you should use the reminders sparingly. Doing so will make it your true life-saver.
Winning time both now and later
If you establish one of these three habits (or all three), your chances of being on time increase. If you add another aspect or trick you come up with as you go along, such as always doubling the time you estimate it will take to get to a meeting (if you have a propensity to be optimistic regarding your time margins), then you will start more meetings than before without being out of breath from running the last 100m to make it in time.
Structure is gradually improved by taking small steps, and you will be more on time by applying the same approach.
What about you?
What is your best trick for always being on time for your meetings? Tell me in an email!. I want more ideas of how we can improve our foresight, and not only in terms of getting tasks done but also regarding planning our days in smoother ways and being on time for our appointments. I am all ears, so feel free to write me.
(Have you seen this trick for you who never seem to have the time you need?)