You’re either punctual, or you’re not. There are no grey areas; nothing in between being late and being on time. Immeasurable in their numbers, the chronically late can be found in every family, every friendship group and every profession. The friend that’s ‘on their way’ when she’s really sat watching Love Island on catch up whilst painting her nails, knowing damn well she’s not going to set off until she’s seen Montana getting dusted. All well and good, but your taxi is booked, and you want to start pre-drinks further in advance than the twenty-minute window she leaves you. Maybe you’re thinking closer to home. If you’re a hangry person, is there really anything more infuriating than inviting your siblings round for tea, only to have to serve the charred remains of lasagna when they arrive? We’ve learned not to be late for family meals, if we aren’t at the restaurant on time, my gran will order for you and whether you like it or not, you will bloody well eat it, because no one f***s with Hilda’s 5 o’clock tea time.
By now you might’ve realised that I’m not in the chronically late crew. I was fortunate enough to be born without this condition. If anything, I’m early to the point of being neurotic. Having a newborn would’ve been a great reason to excuse tardiness, but instead, we all started getting ready two hours in advance, leaving time for her to be sick on her outfit twice before we set off, and for us to pack enough provisions to survive in the wild for a month. You might be picturing me as organised to the point of being anal, but you couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m a self-proclaimed procrastinator in terms of paperwork, meaning that even though I was always at work early, I was always typing a report of the utmost importance out two minutes before it was due in. I furiously tapped away at the keyboard, trying to remain inconspicuous so as not to as not to alert my boss, and swore to myself that this was going to be the last time I caused myself so much stress. However, it remained a constant cycle and I am guessing this is what it’s like to suffer from chronic lateness.
A friend of mine once told me that she’s always late because she overestimates the time she has and tries to fit in other jobs beforehand. Part of me admires the optimism and carefree attitude to time, and part of me hates that I’ve been perched on a coffee shop chair for twenty minutes, looking like a Tinder date went wrong whilst I’m waiting for her. In that instance, I laughed as she happily chirped, “No excuses today, I’m just late.” That was only twenty minutes, imagine my horror as my only other punctual friend told me that her Australian boyfriend thought nothing of turning up an hour late to everything, and apparently that’s just the norm over there. I made a silent vow to myself never to emigrate Down Under, and hoped against hope that their relationship could survive in spite of his laissez-faire approach to timekeeping.
If you’re untimely, I’m sure you have a raft of excuses up your unpunctual sleeve. You’re on your way to a meeting, checking the clock on your dashboard, wondering if you’re really eleven minutes late, or if the clock is running a few minutes fast. You would’ve 100% been on time, if only you hadn’t kindly let that elderly driver out at the last junction, who is now driving at ten miles below the speed limit. Or maybe if the argumentative couple from next door hadn’t been rowing at an ungodly hour, you wouldn’t have needed that extra half an hour in bed. And don’t even get me started on how much time it took you to pack that essential bag of equipment so that you could take your dog on a walk later on. I’ve heard them all, even the dog bag one! To be fair, she had packed a hold-luggage size bag for this particular half an hour walk, whilst I had just about remembered to bring my child. I hastily shoved a bottle into the car with her as we left the house in a bid to give her some sustenance, which was probably not the most relaxing meal she ever had, but at least we weren’t late.
So, I’m left wondering…is there a cure for lateness? I’m doubtful, I know for a fact that being late isn’t an enjoyable experience, and that some of my friends relentlessly pursue the dream of arriving in a timely fashion, only to be even more late than they were last time. It’s tiring, being on the last minute, flustered and panicked as you roll up at that networking meeting where the others have started their introductions, it’s never nice to eat the burnt remains of a lasagne, and speaking from experience, its dangerous to cram an hour and a half’s worth of pre-drinks into twenty minutes. Here are our top tips on improving your punctuality…
Get off social media
Yes, you’re right, that pensioner you let out that is now giving you an indescribable amount of road rage is impeding your journey. But if you hadn’t been scrolling through Instagram, looking at fascinating videos of blackhead removal tools for fifteen minutes before you set off, you wouldn’t have encountered this problem in the first place. Did you really need to catch up on 35 comments on Facebook of a girl you went to school with 10 years ago, even if it looks highly likely that her baby daddy has cheated on her? Don’t get me wrong, I’d be interested too, but remember that it’s not the priority when you’ve got plans to be somewhere. Choose a more appropriate time to try and get to the bottom of why Chloe has checked into A&E for the third time in a week, because it’s not worth getting a warning at work for.
Pack your dog bag beforehand
Or whatever your equivalent is. Got kids? Then you’ll know you can’t sort out a single thing whilst they have their eyes open, so pack their school things when they’re in bed. One of those irritating/fictional people that goes to the gym early doors? Make sure your clothes are ready to throw on before you go. Don’t want to annoy Sandra at Slimming World by putting on 2lbs this week? Make your syn-free salad the night before, it’ll save you chopping a cucumber at 8.05am when you know you should be fifteen minutes into your drive to work.
How fun can it be to barge through the door of the pub, agitated and still fuming about the neighbour from hell’s argument, to see the rest of your friends relaxed and laughing about the funniest story ever, that you’ve now missed and will only get the watered-down version of? This is where you wanted to be ages ago. If only you hadn’t made plans beforehand for a ‘quick catch up’ with a girl you haven’t seen for over a year, only to listen to her bleat on about her latest relationship disaster whilst you plan your escape. There are only so many hours in the day, create a realistic schedule for yourself that you can actually stick to so you can spend quality time with people. That way you won’t miss out on the funny stories.
Give yourself time
The optimism associated with the chronically late means that they assume they can breeze through a thirty-minute journey in only ten minutes. Remember that it took thirty minutes last time, meaning that you can’t shave twenty minutes off that journey this time. It’s impossible, even if you do manage to avoid learner drivers, tractors and concrete mixing wagons on the way. This shouldn’t be hard now that you’re going to save yourself at least fifteen minutes by scrolling through your newsfeed before you set off. Now you’re only five minutes late!
Recall the symptoms being late brings on
If anxiety and stress aren’t enough to put you off, think about how running into that meeting is going to make you look. That film of sweat that covers your face, the windswept/backcombed look of your hair and the crease in your blouse that you just didn’t have time to iron this morning because you were busy chopping up a cucumber to appease Sandra. What’s worse is that you’re now the centre of attention, so everyone has noticed. Try to remember the negative feelings associated with being late, so that when you set your alarm early, you know it’s for the greater good.
So, give these a go. I don’t know if they’ll work for you, but if they don’t, all I can conclude is that there is no cure for lateness, so I would suggest improving your excuses ASAP.