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How to stop being late for everything and change your ways for good

Sick of turning up late to everything? Read this expert advice on how you can change your habits and your mindset and start being on time.

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Being a late person is something you might consider an unfortunate, but inevitable, part of your personality. Always rushing for a train even after promising yourself to leave five minutes earlier, missing appointments, or being the member of your family or friendship group who others simply expect to turn up at least 15 minutes after everyone else. If any of this is sounding painfully relatable, you probably don’t need anyone to tell you just how much being late can negatively impact your life.

Being late may seem like a big part of the way you live your life but there are some ways in which you can change that. Typical advice for those who are late often comes from people who already have brilliant timekeeping skills and have no idea what it’s like to constantly turn up late for things even after taking several steps to avoid it. That’s why Grace G Pacie, who has been a late person for her entire life, wrote the book, Late: A Timebender’s Guide To Why We Are Late And How We Can Change, providing practical advice for late people that actually works.

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Grace has identified seven common reasons why people are late. If you can figure out which of these are relevant to you, you might just be able to start getting over your lateness for good, with the help of Grace’s expert advice. 

Seven reasons why you’re late for things

1. You hesitate to finish things

“One reason why you might end up being late is that you don’t close things down until the last minute and once you’re stuck into something, you don’t want to move on,” Grace says. She explains that this often leads to you frantically running around at the last minute.

2. You don’t like being early

“You probably always tell yourself that you’ll be early next time but you always end up delaying leaving on time, squeezing one more thing in before you leave,” Grace says. She adds that you might also find the experience of being early uncomfortable and boring.

3. You’re not good at measuring time

“Late people often miscalculate timings,” Grace says, explaining that, often, you probably think you have enough time to get ready and do everything else you need to do before leaving the house, but it turns out that you don’t.

4. You need real deadlines with consequences

Deadlines are a great tool for late people but they have to be real,” Grace says. “If you tell yourself you need to be somewhere by a certain time but no one is holding you to account and there’s no consequences, it doesn’t mean anything to you.”

5. You don’t leave any transition time

“In your head, maybe you think you can just drop what you’re doing and be where you need to be in no time, not taking into account the two minutes it takes you to walk from one room to another and wash a dish, for example,” Grace says. She explains that these short transition times add up and might eventually cause you to be late.

6. You’re a complete optimist

“You probably assume that all the lights are going to be green and all the roads will be empty on your journey,” Grace says, adding that a common reason that people end up being late is that they “don’t leave time for things to go wrong.”

7. You do things back to front

“Until your deadline is imminent, you’re probably prioritising doing less important things before doing the things that really need to be done,” Grace says, explaining that most late people won’t do the things that are absolutely essential until just before they need to leave.

Grace’s advice on how to stop being late

Know that if you can be on time when it matters, you can always be on time

“Late people often say that they can be on time when it matters, like when they’re catching a flight,” Grace says. “If this is the case and you do have the capability to be on time, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do it all the time.”

“Maybe you have a secret scale of acceptable lateness,” Grace continues. “You’ll allow yourself to be late for most things even if you always meet strict deadlines.”

Grace explains that you need to refigure how you perceive the things in your life that you’re often late for and ask yourself, why am I not treating these things as important? Once you recognise the value of something, you can motivate yourself to be on time for it. 

Think about how your actions affect the people around you

“Being late might not be causing huge problems for you but it’s definitely causing problems for the people in your life,” Grace says. She explains that the people who you’re late for are the people who have to bear the brunt of your actions and that this can cause real tension in relationships.

“If you can put the focus on other people and how you’re making them feel, rather than yourself, you feel more encouraged to change your ways,” Grace adds.

Recognise the importance of deadlines and create them for yourselves

Late people tend to only be able to stick to deadlines if they have real consequences, so find ways to do this. “Involve other people in your deadline,” is one of Grace’s suggestions, explaining that you could offer someone a lift or arrange to meet another person before arriving at an event. “When other people are involved, it becomes real,” she says.

“You could also commit to some sort of penalty or forfeit if you don’t meet your deadline,” Grace suggests. One example of a penalty she has found to be effective is committing to donating to a charity you don’t believe in if you don’t meet your deadline.

“You should also set an earlier deadline before your event or commitment, like going to get a coffee on your way out or dropping something off at the post office,” Grace says. “You might miss your first deadline, but you’re less likely to miss the thing that really matters,” she explains.

Prepare for being early

You probably know that you should always plan to get somewhere 10-15 minutes before you need to, in case of complications on the way. But maybe your fear of being early is holding you back from doing this. “In that case, make sure you’ve planned something that you can do in case you are early, whether it’s reading a book or answering emails,” Grace says.

You should make this task something you actually want or need to do, so you know the time spent being early won’t be wasted.

For more advice on how to deal with being late, you can buy Grace’s book, Late: A Timebender’s Guide tT Why We Are Late And How We Can Change.

Images: Getty and Grace G Pacie

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