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19 Oct

Three tricks for being on time

Datum: 2023-10-19 16:10
A blonde woman in a light blue-gray blouse walks quickly past large windows (perhaps at an airport?). In her right hand, she holds a to-go coffee mug, and in her left, a passport. She quickly glances at her wristwatch. Will she make it in time?

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.

Do this

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?)

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