My weekday mornings always begin with water exercise. But before class, I leisurely sip a cup of coffee.
In a way, that coffee klatch is my favourite time of the day. Our daughter usually joins us.
Everyone is busy, so it’s interesting to hear about plans for the day, to figure out when meals should be served and who will cook. And especially, whether we can look forward to a movie night—my favourite recreation.
With all that fun, I’m often late to the pool. Maybe I should say I’m “usually” late to the pool. So late that my friends comment on it when I arrive on time.
One day, I got there extra early and a loud voice called out, “She must be sleep-walking!”
Maybe I should have been embarrassed. But instead, we had a great laugh—just as helpful to our health as our exercise.
Unfortunately, I am “chronically late.” It began in high school. The school bus passed our house twice to pick up a student one-half mile away.
Knowing my pattern, our kindly bus driver, Mr. Monnat, honked his horn on the way up—hoping I would be ready when he returned. It often worked!
That’s why when I read the reviews of “Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged” by Diana DeLonzor, I knew I had to have it immediately.
DeLonzor is a nationally-recognized time management expert who headed a university study on chronic lateness and its causes.
Her study revealed that chronic lateness is a surprisingly difficult habit to overcome. She reports that 15-20 percent of Americans have trouble getting to where they’re going on time.
She also discovered that late people often share certain personality characteristics—and may even perceive time differently.
Neurobiologist Irving Kupfermann theorizes “that our habits produce physical alterations in the neural pathways of our brains. When we perform an action repetitively, or make the same decision repeatedly, our neural pathways strengthen in that direction and become like well-worn forest paths.”
That’s why it is so hard to break any habit, including lateness.
DeLonzor describes five chronically-late types. The “rationalizer,” who blames outside circumstances. The “indulger,” who has poor self-control and tends to procrastinate. The “absent-minded” professor, who is easily distracted. The “evader,” who feels anxiety.
And last of all, my type—the “producer,” who wants to squeeze as much into every minute as possible.
DeLonzor recommended that the producer should overcome “magical thinking,” which means always over-estimating how much you can do in a limited time.
You have to re-learn how to tell time, says DeLonzor.
She suggests writing down all the fixed daily or weekly events that make up your schedule: shower and get dressed (40 minutes); straighten house (15 minutes); eat breakfast (20 minutes).
If that’s too much work for you, just decide that you will never try to be exactly on time. Always plan to be early. That way you’ll be on time!
Whether or not you are “punctually challenged,” re-learning how to tell time may help you. Accessing how you schedule time can help you focus on goals and spend less time on unimportant activities.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist.
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