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Always late? See what makes you tick

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IT’S THAT TIME of year again — daylight-saving time is Sunday. Don’t forget to “fall back” (set your clock back one hour) tonight so you won’t be an hour early wherever you go on Sunday.

“Arrive early?” you say. “Are you kidding?”

Most people have the best intentions of arriving on time, but still run late. Arriving late can reduce a normally calm person to a frazzled, embarrassed wreck. Time is spent apologizing and thoughts are distracted.

What stands in the way of being on time?
The first step is to realize that you can manage yourself in relation to time. Picture yourself on time and affirm your intent to be on time. Ask a person you respect how he or she manages to always be on time. Test those practices on yourself, and see what happens.

Then examine your lateness
Is it always by the same amount of time, or varying amounts? If you’re late to events by different amounts of time, you have trouble calculating how long things take. But there is hope — the solution is a skill that can be learned. Estimate how long you think tasks take, and then compare your results to the actual times. Also, pad the time you would normally allocate — if you arrive early, enjoy the spare time and your added relaxation.

Be literal with your time talk
There’s not that much you can really do in a second, yet we use the phrase all the time.

One person discovered that she was forgetting to account for travel time, lunch, checking messages or buying gas during her day. Accounting for these time-eaters gave her a realistic schedule and helped her start arriving on time.

If you are late by the same amount of time, it’s probably self-sabotage. You know it’s important to be timely, yet continue to be late because your time-management problem serves you at some level. Your comfort zone includes tolerating lateness because you are:

A Power Packer
You keep a schedule packed beyond Superwoman’s scope. You’ve been living that way your entire life, and are an excellent crisis manager. It feels good to pull off the impossible, yet it’s not without a cost.

A Downtime Dodger
For some, free time brings anxiety, and fear of being alone with one’s own thoughts. To avoid these quiet moments, the Dodger develops the late habit.

An Internal Interrupter
We get off track when we constantly interrupt ourselves, stopping here and there instead of staying on course to be on time. teaches that “most interruptions are in your mind.”

A Lost in Timer
Some people get completely absorbed in a task to the detriment of all else. They literally lose themselves in the task. While focused concentration is a powerful tool, in the extreme it works against you, causing lateness and other problems. If this is you, allot a reasonable amount of time for the task, and set a timer. If you need more help, have a person remind you when time is up.

A Reluctant Participant
Tardiness can be a subconscious way to rebel against doing things you’d rather not. The answer is to say no to such activities, or figure out how to make the event desirable for you or compatible with your schedule.

A One More Thing Person
A common obstacle to timeliness is doing “one last thing.” Instead of walking out the door on time, we squeeze in one more task. Resist the urge, even if it’s the phone ringing. Few things actually take only one minute to do.