The struggles of the chronically late

By Anonymous 4th-year Life Sci

Everyone has that friend who’s always late. They’re late for plans to hang out, they’re late to class, and sometimes they’re even late to exams!

You often see them looking frazzled as they rush across campus. At least 50% of the texts you get from them include the words “5-10 minutes late”, “so sorry” or “WAIT FOR ME I’M COMINGGGGG!”

I was that friend.

I realized that things needed to change. Being late isn’t just a choice that I make for myself. It sends the message to friends, professors, and event organizers that their time is less valuable than mine, that they should be the ones waiting for me.

Before I could stop being late, I had to figure out why I was late in the first place. I want to share with you the biggest obstacles I faced in my quest to be punctual and how I overcame those obstacles. Hopefully, you can use these strategies to help yourself or a friend overcome chronic tardiness.

1. Miscalculating total travel time

I like to time everything to the last minute; I don’t want to leave earlier than necessary to arrive at my destination. I know exactly how long it takes to walk from my house to a variety of locations on campus and downtown. For example, if it takes 7 minutes to walk from my house to BioSci, I will pack up to leave my house exactly 7 minutes before I am due to arrive. Despite my calculations, I was somehow always late.

I realized that the time it takes to walk between buildings is only part of the total time I need to allow for traveling from place to place. Total travel time actually includes:

  1. Packing: putting on coat, packing up books, saying goodbye to friends/housemates, getting out of the building (from some places in Stauffer, it takes almost 2 minutes to walk to the front doors!)
  2. Walking: moving yourself from one building to the next
  3. Finding: entering the building, finding your classroom, and choosing a seat

With this in mind, allow for 4 minutes to pack my things, 7 minutes to walk to BioSci, and 1 minute to get to my class. Now, if you ask me how long it takes to get to BioSci from my house, I always say 12 minutes. By simply reconsidering how I looked at timing, I am still able to feel like I’m leaving the house at the last possible moment without being late. It’s a win-win!

2. Forgetting about class, plans, or due dates

I used to accidentally miss class on an alarmingly regular basis because I would forget what time my class started, misread my schedule, or get caught up in an activity and lose track of time.

I needed to find someone – or something – to constantly remind me about upcoming events. The calendar function on my phone was the perfect solution! (Any sort of electronic calendar will work equally well, as long as you check it regularly). I made an event for each class and changed the settings so that the event repeated weekly. I added other events – like extracurriculars and significant due dates – as well. I programmed the calendar to alert me at an appropriate interval prior to the event (ex: 15 minutes before the start of class, 1 day before a meeting, or 1 week before due date). Sometimes I even had multiple alarms for the same event.

Having a reminder system in place gave me no excuse to forget about class or important commitments. I felt more organized and relaxed – I didn’t have to worry about keeping a mental to-do list or memorizing my class schedule.

The two strategies above were extremely helpful for me. Feel free to give them a try and hopefully they will work for you too!

For more information on keeping track of plans and sticking to them, try out our Time Management module. We offer a weekly schedule template — it’s easy to block in your half-hour commute to campus using this schedule! Alternatively, try monitoring how you actually spend your time using the Time Monitoring Form — maybe your mild addiction to Candy Crush is why you continually miss that Chemistry lecture. Hmmm…

Photo courtesy of Rob and Stephanie Levy under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.