Suffering from Chronically Late Syndrome?

Written by Easter Becker-Smith. Posted in Community News, Featured

Published on April 18, 2012 with No Comments

A little planning and determination can be your cure

Everyone knows that you cannot be late for your job interview. Most people will have no problem arriving on time. The majority of folks are usually on time or even a little early for every appointment or scheduled event.  A few people always arrive far ahead of schedule.

I had a friend, Karen, who while growing up used to complain about her dad. Vacation drive time always began at 4 a.m., so they could beat the traffic.  They usually arrived at least a half hour early everywhere they went. Karen, as an adult, is always on time and usually 15 minutes ahead of schedule, but she starts her vacation time a bit later in the morning that her dad did.

Then there are the consistently late people. You know the ones who always rush into a meeting, running five to 10 minutes late. They are your friends who you plan to meet with at 7, but you know they will not arrive until 7:15. Maybe you know those perpetually late people well because you fit into that category of always running behind schedule.

Is there a cure for the chronically late syndrome? With so many abbreviations today, shall we call this the CLS problem? Whatever we name it, yes, the behavior can be changed. The question is does the CLS person want to change? If that, “never on time person” is you, ask yourself, “Do you really care that you are late?” If you have no concern about being late, then that is a whole other issue of a lack of caring and consideration of other people’s time.

Most people who are chronically late want to be on time but just do not seem to be able to make it happen. Here are some common obstacles for tardiness:

1.  “I thought I had enough time.” Sometimes people are late because they have not taken the time to really figure out how much time they need.

Example:  John is always running from one appointment to the next, always on the go. He committed to meeting Joe in Portage at 5 p.m.  His meeting in Lansing ends at 4:30 p.m. It’s a very tight a time frame, but he usually can do it. John did not stop to remember that traffic is heavier at that hour of day, so now he is going to be late for his appointment with Joe.

2.  “I can get one more thing done before I go.”  This CLS person is playing a game against time and she never wins.

Example:  Jennifer was ready to leave ahead of time. In fact, she had five minutes to spare, according to her calculations. The dryer just ended its cycle. “Oh good,” Jennifer thought, “I can quickly get this load folded and hung.” So she handled the laundry in the dryer and it was a bigger load than she expected. The washing machine stopped while she was hanging shirts, so she threw that load in the dryer.  All that took twelve minutes, so now Jennifer is running seven minutes late. One the way to her appointment she approached a railroad crossing just as the gates lowered. The train took four minutes to go by. Jennifer arrived 11 minutes late for her appointment.

Had she left when she was ready and ignored the laundry, she would have avoided getting stopped by the train and would probably have arrived for her appointment on time, or maybe a couple of minutes early.

3.  “I was delayed by a phone call/other meeting.”  Not ending a conversation soon enough can quickly derail promptness for the next appointment.

Example:  Greg had his day well planned and had plenty of time between appointments to arrive promptly for all of them.  He planned that his call with Stephanie from HR would take 30 minutes. She had more issues to discuss than he realized and the conversation took 55 minutes.  When the call reached 30 minutes, Greg failed to say, “Stephanie, I know we have more important issues to cover. Are you available to talk again later today at 3:30? I have an appointment that I need to leave for so that I am not late.”

Greg continued the conversation instead and he arrived several minutes late for his appointment. Had Greg interrupted the conversation and kept to his schedule, he would have been on time.

To overcome the obstacles to being on time listed above take the following steps:

  • Plan ahead.  Slow down, stop running at the speed of a locomotive and plan. Really think through how much time you need to do what you need to do before you leave for you scheduled appointment. Factor in the unexpected and give yourself a few extra minutes.
  • Stay on track. Once you have determined the schedule you need to keep to be on time, take control and don’t let anything derail you.  Don’t add one more thing to do, do it later after your appointments. Politely end a conversation that is running too long and interfering with your timeliness. Your friends, family and co-workers will appreciate the consideration you show by being on time.

How about that big interview? Yes, arrive early, but no more than 10 minutes. If you arrive too early, it appears as an imposition to the interviewer and a lack of consideration of her schedule. Of course, you will not arrive late. That does not happen anymore.

“Is there a cure for the chronically late syndrome?  Yes, the behavior can be changed.”

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About Easter Becker-Smith


All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Easter Becker-Smith provides coaching for individuals, groups and corporate teams.  She coaches individuals to help them discover their own path to balance and fulfillment in their lives.  She brings her years of experience in business as a highly regarded leader to help companies improve their productivity and efficiency by learning how to better communicate with each other.  Visit her website at www.coacheaster.com.

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