I am an eternal tidoptimist when it comes to time. I constantly believe I have more time than I actually do… and this is why I am always late.
Perhaps it’s just not in my nature to arrive on time, I was born 11 days after my due date and it’s been a long standing joke my whole that I am late for everything – even my own birth.
My friends and family have just come to expect it. It’s just who I am as a person. I’m not always late but when I’m not everyone else feels as though the cosmic balance has been upset so who am I to change the order of things?
However, I’ll let you in to a little secret… I don’t actually like being late – in fact I kind of loathe it.
When I’m late I get anxious, embarrassed and tetchy. Ah… tetchy is such a good word to describe me (it means irritable and bad tempered in case you weren’t sure) but staying on topic – being late really gets to me.
Earlier this week I was on my way to work (a cheeky 2 hour drive, each way) and realised 30 minutes into my journey that I had left my laptop at home. Now being somebody who is field based I kind of really rely on my laptop to do my job to the best of my ability – I can’t very well turn up to the office without it…
So back home I went to get my laptop (now an hour behind schedule and still at home). I then started the 2 hour journey to work flustered, distracted and agitated.
This is the point I get real with you… that day was an absolute nightmare. I was so tired I almost caused 4 car crashes… not even joking. I was “tetchy” all day, my colleague said she was “scared of me” (Great.) and generally I was very unproductive because I had a stonking mard on (urban dictionary describes the word mardy as “Grumpy. Surly. Like a moaning child who doesn’t get her way.”).
In short, I felt like shit and realistically I had nobody to blame but my own disorganised self.
So in honour of the (unnecessary) stress I caused my self, here are 8 things to do and realise if you want to be the friend, colleague or relative waiting for everyone else with that sassy “you’re late” look on your face that you’re used to being on the receiving end of.
This is very different from “Going to bed earlier”.
I am not here to mother you and tell you to be in bed by 9pm. I assume you’re a grown up who has enough sense of themselves to know when they are tired and need to go to bed.
If you’re not, you might as well skip this point.
Getting enough sleep comes down to being realistic about how much sleep you actually need to function as a normal human being.
That day when I forgot my laptop, I didn’t have enough sleep and everything just stemmed from that…. I very quickly learnt my lesson.
I know that I need 8 hours of sleep to be a bouncing, engaging bundle of joy but I can still effectively function on 7 hours… Anything less than 7 and I start to become a bit of a twat.
Whilst it’s not scientifically proven, I usually calculate that for every 30 minutes of sleep I get I am good to be around for an hour or so. If I have a 14 hour day ahead of me (10 hours of work, 2 hour drive each way) I need at least 7 hours of sleep. If I’m having a beastly day where I know I’m going to be working for 12 hours on my feet, starting at 7am with a 4 hour drive home… I know I need at least 8 hours but 9 would be even better.
It’s just about knowing how much sleep you need and working backwards. You know your body better than anybody else and you know what works best for it.
If you don’t, I recommend you take the time to learn. It’s a lot easier to get up in the morning when you’re not physically and mentally exhausted from sleep deprivation.
If google maps says it’s going to take 35 minutes to get somewhere, it’s going to take at least 35 minutes to get there.
Google has some real smart algorithms that stalk us when we use maps and adjust travel time based on other peoples journeys, roadworks and delays. It’s all a little bit Big Brother but it’s accurate. Just accept it.
On occasion you might get there quicker (less traffic, walking quicker) but let’s just agree to be honest with each other here, there is always more traffic that we anticipate, always a truck that drove just a bit too slow or a WhatsApp message we just have to reply to that means we we’re distracted and end up walking even slower.
It’s so very important to be realistic about how long it takes to get somewhere.
In doing so it avoids the stress of needing to be somewhere in 10 minutes but it being physically 20 minutes away.
Remember the days before TomTom’s and Sat Nav’s on our phones? Remember when your parents would whip out the big A3 map book and ask you to read the directions?
Looking back, I don’t know how we ever knew which turning to take, but somehow we did and we always got there. It always felt like we arrived less stressed than we do now.
Maybe it was a childhood innocence or maybe it was down to actually being able to see the journey as a whole. Now when we go somewhere, we just type in a postcode select start and off we go (this is if you’re driving of course).
I do a lot of travelling with work and the first time I go anywhere I absolutely have to find out where I’m parking and how far where I’m going is from said car park. Maybe it’s a little bit OCD but when I get there I know exactly where I’m going and what to expect so it reduces any uncertainty or risk of getting lost (very stressful!)
I just think it’s important to be prepared for your journey before it starts rather than during your travel time.
This includes such things as filling up your fuel the night before (petrol stations can add so much unnecessary time to your journey if everyone decides to get fuel as the same time as you), collecting your tickets before your journey (this isn’t a major one but personally I just find it easier to know I already have my tickets with me) or checking you have cash for a taxi (if you’re not with uber, of course!).
Come on this is old school tactics. Everyone knows to do this but how many people actually do it? I’m guilty of not always doing it and that’s when I make the most mistakes and end up being the latest (and most stressed).
In the morning all I want to do is get up and go, chances are that if you’re reading this then you probably do too. Pack your bag with everything you’ll need for the next day – books, notepad, pens, headphones, water bottle… whatever it is that you need for the next day.
One thing that I find really useful and maybe you will too, is laying out my clothes for the next day. I think for somebody who is such a night owl, this works especially well for me because I do it in the order I’m going to put it on… pants first, socks last kind of thing.
Try it. Let me know if it gives you all the calming “I’m a responsible adult” feels that it gives me.
Usually I do this as soon as I get in so I know that for the rest of the night I can properly switch off but you do what feels best to you. If you prefer to do just before you go to bed, like a final check list and that works for you then that’s great – just make sure you do it either way.
As I previously covered it’s important to be realistic about how long it takes to actually get somewhere. However, it’s also important to take into account how it takes to get ready.
It’s usually not the travel time that makes me late but it’s all the getting ready that adds those extra minutes.
This is why I always work backwards and over estimate how long things takes. I can have a 5 minute shower and not smell like sweaty teenager in the middle of the mosh pit but I always give myself 15 minutes. I factor in 10 minutes to get dressed but it doesn’t really take me that long and I guess you get the gist here – a lot of over realistic overestimating.
I guess this point is again about being realistic about the time you actually have to get ready and get somewhere. Work backwards and plan everything you need, if you’ve done all of the above so far then you can calculate when you need to get up and this leads me nicely on to my next point:
So we all know the drill. We set an alarm to wake up. We put it on snooze. It goes off again. We put it on snooze again and before we know it we’ve had a hefty lie in and we’re late.
If I need to be somewhere at a very specific time, I will set an alarm to wake me up and then one half an hour later to actually get me out of bed.
And then another one 4 minutes later (my snooze is 5 minutes).
This final alarm is the equivalent of when I used to stay at my aunts over the summer and she would tickle my feet and pull the cover off me. I had to get up, it was cold and my feet were being tickled. My final get up call.
But that’s not the final alarm.
If I know I’m going to be dozy, which is very likely as I am not a morning person then I also set an alarm for when I need to leave the house. Usually I set it about 5 minutes before I really need to leave so I have a few minutes to do my last little bits (grab my bag, phone etc) and I find that doing this means I do actually leave at a realistic time.
It might seem a bit regimented but give it a try, it will keep you focused in the morning without the stress of constantly checking the time.
Okay so you might not have cats, you might loathe them but you might have a dog or a partner that needs just as much fuss. I’m a real sucker for being distracted by cats – they’re just so fluffy and needy that I feel obliged to play with them… ESPECIALLY when I have somewhere that I need to be.
Whenever I’m making plans with my mum she always asks “Have you factored in playing with the cats?” and whilst some people may think it’s a euphemism, it is actually a genuine question.
I give myself about 15 minutes to fuss them, feed them and maybe take some photos. You might use this time for taking an #ootd photo, reading the latest headlines or stalking your ex’s new partner but whatever you use it for, allowing for it means you’re not adding 15 minutes to your arrival time.
If you don’t use it, then great there’s a chance you will be 15 minutes early or don’t have to stress if you do get stuck behind that slow moving truck.
Sometimes, you’re just going to be late and that’s okay.
I once saw a sweet little quote on one of those traffic boards they have at service stations. It said:
“You’re not stuck in traffic – you are traffic.”
I remember really thinking about it and trying to get my head around the principal. It’s so very true though – sometimes you are just going to be late. Traffic, electrical faults, accidents, roadworks and tractors. Gosh I despise tractors.
This is a fairly short point but I think it’s an important one – sometimes, you just can’t help it and in those situations, as long as you have done everything you possibly can to be on time, you just going to have to embrace the situation that is out of your control.
If you’re stuck in traffic put your favourite album on, turn that music up and sing like you’re Beyoncé. If you’re on a train, catch up on the group chat to or reply to those emails you’ve been avoiding.
Whatever you do, don’t let the uncontrollable control you.
I hope you’ve found this list useful and maybe even a little of inspiring. If you put any of these tips into action, do let me know!
However, in the mean time remember “just being late” is something you should work on but sometimes the unexpected happens and in those moments remember to be kind to yourself, it’s just life being life.