I’m Late! I’m Late! For a Very Important Date!

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Dear Robin:

I have a serious procrastination issue.  Im sick of being late everywhere by 10-15 minutes. Do I need to start setting my clock back? Playing tricks with myself?!  I’m fed up with myself with no one to blame.  Ugh.  The worst kind of pissed.  How do I punch myself in the face?! LOL

-Old Habits Die Hard

Dear Old Habits Die Hard (OHDH):

I appreciate your question and your chat this morning, which I am including below so our readers can get a sense of how we make the sausage.

Like you, I am also chronically late for everything, but unlike you, this is a recent development in my life because people are constantly stopping me to ask for my autograph and tell me how wonderful I am.  You have no idea how time consuming being adored by the entire world is.  It’s frankly exhausting.

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OK, everyone, here is my message exchange with our fearless but non-punctual advice seeker:

Robin Descamp:

Have you had this issue for a long time or is it more recent? Have you had some negative consequences from being late? Can you identify specifics for me?  Are you late all day, or just morning appointments?

OHDH:

I’ve had this issue for as long as I can remember.  Negative consequences in the past have been missing morning announcements at work or just having co workers notice I was not on time.  It’s always been between 5-15 min.  Getting the morning grill of “Ooo you’re late” was a typical annoyance by my friends and snitch-like coworkers.

But it’s not just the morning.  If I have an event that holds a lot of weight I’ll procrastinate leaving to it until the last minute and change clothing a million times…curl my hair one more time etc…fear of success perhaps.

Robin Descamp:
I hate those snitchy co-worker assholes…that’s why I don’t work for anyone anymore! (Maria: that one’s for you, darling.  And I know you read the blog.)

OHDH:
Lol.  Co-worker assholes yes…This is why I’m doing what I’m doing.  I refuse to be a person that has no choice but to work 9-5

Robin Descamp

Is it really just 5-15 minutes usually? That doesn’t sound like a huge problem.  I have a former friend who thought nothing of showing up an hour late for anything and everything, if she chose to show up at all.  Note the word: former.

OHDH:

It is to me.  Because I feel it.

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There are two issues here: the “why” and the “how.”  First let’s discuss the why, because if you don’t figure out what’s going on at a deeper level and why you are always late, the practical advice on how to be punctual (the “how”) will be useless to you.

You posited you may have a fear of success.  While that is a good stab at figuring out what’s happening, I don’t think that’s your issue.  Your Facebook page is replete with positive messages and updates about the enormous risks you are taking to further your career right now.

Either you are completely full of shit or you truly believe in yourself, what you are doing and that you will achieve your goals in a field you love.  Let’s put “fear of success” back in the closet where it belongs.  Also, stop trying to do my job, if you don’t mind.

I don’t want to give away your identity but I think the readers should know that you are seeking a career in what one could broadly define as the entertainment industry. Do you think it’s possible that your limelight-seeking personality may be related to your issues with time?

You probably get a lot of attention when you race into something late, and whether that attention is good or bad, all eyes are on you and you become the focal point in the room.

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I’m not saying you are a narcissist, just that you are probably an attention-seeker. That’s part of what drives you in your industry and what will contribute to your future achievements.

Rather than hashing out all the potential possibilities for why you are late (I can’t do that because I’m running late this morning, no joke) I am linking to an article below that I found very interesting.  I suggest you read it to determine whether you identify with any of the groups the author writes about and spend some time trying to unwind and process your motivations.

A little therapy couldn’t hurt, unless your therapist hits you, which would be unhelpful and also unethical!

Now let’s focus on the how: how are we going to get you where you need to be on time?  Let’s start with your first problem: your concept of “on time.”  For the regularly punctual, “on time” means 5-10 minutes early, especially for very important meetings.  Make arriving 10 minutes early for everything your new standard.

You asked “how do I punch myself in the face?”  I’m going to suggest you do no such thing, especially given how pretty you are and your chosen profession.  Also, it would seem that punching yourself in the face would make you even later if a bloody nose ensued.

You mentioned playing tricks with yourself.  A little hint here though: setting your clock back is going to make you even more tardy.  You will want to set it forward. Are you OK?  Have you recently suffered a head injury?

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The problem with the regular “tricks” people use to battle tardiness are that they are easily adaptable.  If you know your clock is set forward 20 minutes, you will adjust the time in your head and still be late.  If you know your meeting is at 2:00 but you put it in your calendar for 1:30, you will again adjust your time and be late.

Here’s a good trick for you: imagine yourself calling the person you are going to meet and telling them, “I don’t respect you, I don’t care about your time and I am more important than you.”  Imagine then their reaction, because even if you don’t feel that way at all, these are the messages you convey to others over and over again when they make the effort to be prompt and you do not.

You need a daily reminder of how rude and inconsiderate others find you when you don’t show up on time, because I know that is the opposite of the impression you want to give people.  I think if you see you are running late and you picture yourself picking up the phone and telling someone how inconsequential their feelings are to you and that their time holds no value, you may start to push yourself to be on time.

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I would also post a few notes for yourself around your house and as a screensaver on your phone and computer that simply read:

“When I am late, people think I am a selfish, self-centered and egotistical bitch.”

Check in with me in a few weeks and let me know how it’s going, OK?  And read this! Are You Always Late?

-Robin

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Lolo

    Wow… I had no idea, but I’m apparently a “flexer”, at least to some extent. …Ugh! How obnoxious!

    Kudos to you for digging up that article – I hadn’t ever thought of it that way, and I actually think this might help shine the light of truth on the situation brightly enough to help me change!

  2. Margaret Yost

    I think being over 10 minutes late is rude and requires a damn good excuse. For those who are chronically 30 minutes and over, it’s a total ficking power trip and these people need to get over themselves. I used to work for a very glamourous person who I adored and respected, but who was chronically hours late. Can you imagine waiting hours for someone on a regular basis? She was my boss so we were stuck with each other, but I realized after that experience how it made me feel and I didn’t like it.
    Get over yourself power trippers and be on time!

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