Months back, I wrote on the topic of perfectionism as a personality flaw and how it would be a painstakingly annoying (although undeniably accurate) answer to give at a job interview when given the prototypical “What is your greatest weakness?” prompt. I wasn’t being entirely honest. So here I am, about to expose one of my (debatably) biggest flaws that I definitely would not share in any given job interview that I actually wanted to get hired for (although the title of this post is kind of a dead giveaway)…
I am a very tardy person.
In fact, the last few times I wasn’t late for something, it either involved free food (I’m not about to let that run out on me!), or was a work-related event (a job interview, a meeting, etc). Anything else – classes, a meet-up with friends, a date (yup), a SURPRISE PARTY (#WORST) – my ETA ranges from anywhere in between five minutes to three hours. The reasons vary. The unreliability of the TTC. Pressing the snooze button one (or seven…) too many times. Getting caught up with a Skype call from home. Yes, all excuses, all valid to a certain extent, but at a certain point I had to come to the realization that mishaps and setbacks are always bound to come up, and so maybe I should just start doing/leaving for things ahead of time.
But I do understand how desperately annoying it is to feel like your time is wasted, or the awkward moments where you feel as though you’ve been stood up or forgotten about – I’ve been on the receiving end of tardiness too. The main problem I encounter with being able to be on-time is grossly overestimating the amount of time I had before I had to be somewhere or do something (sound familiar to anyone?). I was consistently an hour and fifteen minutes late to my two-hour 9AM lectures four weeks in a row. I made my friend late for another appointment they had later in the day. I risked not being considered for a job position because I turned in my application half an hour past its hard deadline. As a student, running the habit of being late is a very easy, very dangerous trap to fall into for the future when “I was finishing off a term paper due that afternoon” is no longer a socially acceptable excuse for lateness in the workforce.
With that (and the unsettling fear of impending unemployment) in mind, I set out to change a stubborn, long-lived habit of mine. Here are some of the goals I’ve started to set, that perhaps you’ll find useful too –
- Writing down where I need to be and what time I need to be there, and what I’ll need to be doing when I get there. I will do this on a CALENDAR, or anywhere I can get a linear sense of my tasks and responsibilities I have in real-time. I used to write things down in my Moleskine journal on the fly, and although I think it’s still a great way of staying on top of what I have to do, it doesn’t give me a very organized idea of how I should be managing my time the way a calendar does.
- And, I will double-check to make sure I don’t have conflicts and that I’m writing down dates correctly, otherwise I could have everything off and realize all my deadlines and due dates and midterms are actually a day earlier than I originally thought (this has happened to a certain someone) (that someone was me).
- Oversleeping happens! Sometimes our bodies just need the extra rest, especially at a time as busy and so far into the school year as March. I will make it a point to recognize my sleep patterns. For example, I know that if I sleep by 2AM, I’ll feel well-rested on five hours of sleep if I have to be up early the next morning. Anything past 3:30AM, however, and I’ll be out cold for at least eight hours before I feel physically ready to leave my bed. I know my body well enough to plan my schedule around me feeling my optimal best when the alarm sounds off (also, I plan to set multiple alarms).
- If I can get something done now, I’ll do it now. You never know what will come up in the future that will prevent you from doing whatever it is you think you’ll be able to do later on, at another time of convenience (now say that 4 times, really fast).
- If I’m inevitably going to be late, for whatever emergency I run into (hey, you can’t account for everything that happens in life), at least have the consideration to tell the other person. I won’t do that thing where I say I’m just around the corner when we both know I haven’t even showered yet. The earlier I tell someone, the earlier they’ll be able to plan their own time and make arrangements. My time isn’t more valuable than theirs!
Being late sucks. Not just for the others waiting on you, but you owe it to yourself not to feel hurried and rushed through life.
As always, U of T, until the next –
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