Gasping for breath. Heart pounding. Mind racing. Does this ever describe you? No, not while you’re talking to the opposite sex—but when you’re trying to get somewhere?
You’re going to be late to class again. The room is on the other side of the building. The halls are particularly crowded. Your grade is on the line. Everyone will look at you when you walk in. Oh, it’s him, they’ll think. He’s always late. You really have a good excuse this time, but who’s going to believe you?
Chances are, if lateness is a problem at school, it’s also a problem at your job and even with family and friends.
Some people, on the other hand, always show up to school or work on time or earlier—they complete projects and assignments by the deadline. They are seen as mature, responsible and reliable. They have the trust and respect of most everyone—authority figures and peers.
Reliability and organization aside, punctuality is a mighty social skill. Not that this is the key to being popular, or befriended by all those around you. But think: Who wants to be kept waiting? Being prompt shows courtesy to others and their time. It shows that you value them, their time and your time with them. If you are going to be late, you can still show courtesy and thoughtfulness by letting them know you’ll be late. Also consider: What kind of social life will you have if your parents ground you for not making it home by curfew?
So how do you break the tardy trend? How do you get in control of your life and your time? How do you refine your ability to meet deadlines?
First, discover any patterns you have for lateness. Is there one particular activity or project you are constantly late for? Make a list of these situations. Review the list and examine why you are constantly tardy. Consider the excuses you make. Is it because you were doing something “more important” than what you needed to be on time for? Being in control of your time—being on time—is probably just as important as whatever it is that held you up.
If you can pin down what aspects of your time are controlling you, you are more likely to be able to turn it around and start controlling your schedule.
Second, do everything you can to help yourself be on time. Seek help from others. Pray about it. God indicates that the first key to time management is putting Him first (Matthew 6:33). He can give you the help and discernment you need to be responsible in this area.
Another way you can help yourself is by properly estimating how long things take. If you’re due home after basketball practice by 6:30 p.m., then count backward: “It will take me 20 minutes to get home, plus about 15 minutes after practice to shower and change—so I’ll need to stop at 5:55.”
In seeking help in time management, you may want to make your deadlines known to others. Tell them when you need to leave to get somewhere on time, so they can help you. Ask someone to check up on a project you have for school: “Can you ask me in a week how my term paper is coming?” Or, “My parents need me home by 6 tonight to help with some yard work, so can you make sure we leave by 5:30?”
Try setting an alarm on your watch or computer to remind you that when you hear the alarm, you need to leave.
A final way in which you can help yourself is by allowing extra time for the unexpected. Just like in handling money—where you save some here and there for those unexpected expenses—you should pad the time you’ve allotted for something with an extra 5 or 10 minutes, just to be on the safe side.
No one is perfect. Even the most punctual people have tardy moments for various reasons. But by improving in this area, you will show yourself more courteous, more in control of your time, more trustworthy and more mature—and, of course, less out of breath.