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Get Organized! Forward this one to the chronically late

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You know who I am talking about. She’s never on time. He always needs another five minutes. Got a picture of someone in your mind?

What if she had not just an extra five minutes, but an entire extra hour in the day? We recently left Daylight Saving Time. That’s as close as we are going to get to that extra hour. Normally get up at 6? Suddenly, it was only 5. You got an extra hour. We all got an extra hour … including your friend who is chronically late.

Late again

Think about the co-worker or student who never can seem to get to work or school on time. Will he or she be on time for work or school Monday? Don’t count on it. The one who rolls in 8:05 when 8:00 is late probably will still roll in at 8:05. Should you change “late time” to 8:05, watch Miss Precious roll in at 8:10. You could delay the start of school or the work day until 1 p.m. and watch her waltz in at 1:05.

Every spring, we all “spring forward” an hour when Daylight Saving Time begins. What happened last spring? Mr. Five-Minutes-Late-Every-Day didn’t show up an hour and five minutes late. Nope … five minutes late … again. Somehow, he could adjust his schedule a full hour overnight. You would think he could take care of that last five minutes. Not a chance.

Miss They-Grabbed-Me-Just-As-I-Was-Walking-Out-The-Door will be late to tomorrow’s meeting, by the same amount of time as usual. You guessed it … somebody grabbed her just as she was walking out the door.

How do you fix it?

Just ask the person who is rarely, if ever, late. Yes, people ask for a piece of his time just as he is walking out the door. Therefore, he starts walking out the door well ahead of time. Yes, she gets stopped by the train, or traffic lights, or slow traffic, or whatever. So, she leaves with enough time to allow time for trains, red lights, traffic, and whatever.

Instead of assuming all the lights will be green, plan for some delays. In this case, a little pessimism is a good thing. If all goes well, and she gets there early, she always has reading material or other tasks to fill the spare minutes.

What do you gain?

When you arrive early, what do you gain? This list of three is just for starters:

—You get face-time with the “boss.” The first students to arrive get the one-on-one conversations with the teacher that the kid who is tardy never gets. The teacher who is early to school gets to chat with the principal while things are quiet. 

—You avoid the stress. How many times have you sat nervously at a stop light chanting “Change, change, change” as if it’s going to do some good? How many times have you pressed the elevator button multiple times, as if the elevator is going to sense your emergency and give you preferential treatment?  Delays will happen, and when you factor in additional time for them, the delay becomes a non-issue.

—You communicate a message. German poet and philosopher Johann Schiller said, “Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly ever acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.” Showing up on time is one of those simple things. Get that one wrong, and people assume you can’t be trusted with much else.

Get there early. You have no trouble finding a parking spot. You get the seat of your choosing at the meeting. And, you get your pick of the doughnuts.

Who do you know that needs to read this article? Why not clip it and lay it on his/her desk. You’ve got time. After all, they’re going to be late.

Frank Buck is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders. "Global Gurus Top 30" named him #1 in the Time Management category for 2019, 2020 and 2021. Dr. Buck speaks throughout the United States and internationally about organization and time management. You can reach him through his website: Follow him on Twitter @DrFrankBuck.