Whether you struggle with arriving on time for work, a doctor’s appointment, a church service or even a date, I thought you might like to know how an organizer thinks. The other day as I was figuring out a busy day and walking through my process to make sure I would be on time for every appointment. It dawned on me that my process might be helpful for you. Different cultures place different values and priorities on being punctual and timeliness so I want to be clear, I’m not writing to convince you to be on time. I want to address the notion that if you’d like to be on time and more punctual, it’s possible.
First step is to notice how long it takes to get certain things done. For example: how long does it take you to make and eat breakfast, walk the dog, take a shower and get ready, pack a lunch, pack a gym bag, check emails, scroll Facebook, get out of work and walk to the train. All of these tasks are common and typical during our days. I know there will always be crises or unusual events that happen. I understand we can’t predict and perform each day perfectly, however I do believe we can get it right eighty percent of the time, if we take the right steps and plan ahead.
Once you take note of the menial tasks that you perform on a daily basis you’re ready to adjust your time frames to be punctual and on time. I figure this all out in my head but if you need to you could write it down.
So here’s an example of how I plan my day. In bed, the night before I’m thinking through all of this to set my alarm. I always start my planning with the time I need to arrive somewhere and work backwards.
- 9:30am Client Start in a Chicago suburb
Next step is I figure how long it will take me to get there. Let’s say for this example it’s 30 minutes.
- 8:25/9:00am I know I must leave the house to be on time.
Next step is I figure how long for making my espresso, eating breakfast and packing my lunch
- I should be in the kitchen by 7:50/8am at the latest.
I know it takes me 45 minutes to shower, dress, dry my hair and do my makeup.
- My alarm has to go off no later than 7:15….
If I’m ambitious and want to leave time for emails or a quick Facebook check a safe bet would be 7am!
Now let’s go to the end of my day. Again, start with your deadline or time to be punctual.
- 6:30pm should be my arrival time. To be on time tonight I have to arrive at that time and traffic will likely be bad.
- So I have to leave the gym by 5:45pm
- I know want to ride the bike at the gym for 45 minutes and I know it takes me 20 minutes to freshen up and get out of the gym. So I have to climb off the bike at 5:25pm
- Which means I have to get on the bike no later than 4:40/4:45pm
- So I’m leaving my home office to drive to the gym by 4:30pm.
It may sound super detailed and stressful and too much work, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be very freeing and helpful and once you know how long things take you, you can adjust the time accordingly. If you know you like to shoot the breeze with the people at the gym add in ten minutes. If you need to go through a drive thru for dinner, add in another ten minutes. When we don’t plan ahead and don’t watch the time as we go about our day, that’s what makes us late.
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