. When You’re Going to be Late

I like to be on time and mostly I am, but occasionally there are situations when I’m inevitably late.  How can I release, or at least reduce, the stress which I cause others because I’m don’t arrive in a timely manner?  How do I relax myself, when I know that I’m going to be delayed?

As I have contemplated this challenge, I have considered several principles:

1)  Whenever possible, commit to “ish”. This means, “I will plan to meet you around 2 p.m., or “Two-ish”, if that will work with your schedule.”  This allows you flexibility without causing problems for yourself or those you are meeting.

2)  When you do need to set a specific time and subsequently know that you are going to be late, contact the person to let them know of your delay and set a new, planned time of arrival. “I’m sorry, Marsha, I have been caught in traffic and probably won’t be arriving until sometime after 4:30.  Will that timing still work for you?”

3)  Set your bedroom clock four minutes fast, the rest of the clocks in your home and vehicles two minutes fast, and plan to keep to those times because it will help you arrive a bit early.  Arriving early doesn’t waste time, it conserves energy.  Early arrivers can network with business associates, visit with friends, and settle themselves in without puffy, rushing, or feeling stressed.  Simply put, try to live a bit early!

4)  If you are working with a chronic late bird, tell them, “The party is starting at 6 p.m. for everyone else, but for you the party is starting at 5:30 p.m.”  This will hopefully cause a laugh and bring the subject to the surface.  Then it can be discussed and resolved.

As one of my friends said, “Marie, I’m starting to plan on you arriving about 15 minutes after you tell me you’ll arrive.”  That piqued my interest.  I didn’t know I had been repetitively late often enough for her to form this opinion.  So we talked about it and I realized that the last three times, I had, indeed, shown up later than we had agreed.  I also realized I had felt that my tardiness wouldn’t be noticed or at least would be overlooked because of our friendship.  So we talked about “ish” and how I could better respect her own schedule.

So, if you are running late, let others know.  More often than not, tell others you will arrive “ish”.  And finally, be alert for communication from others that their needs are being ignored by your repetitive tardiness.  We respect others when we are on time.  We respect ourselves when we keep our committed timelines.  We face reality when we realize that some times we can’t be in total control and thus call ahead about our anticipated tardiness.

As a side note, why is it that the lights are always red when we are late and seem to be green when we are early?  Happy timeliness, my friends.  I’ll see you “___-ish”!

Find more helpful ideas in my House of Order Handbook.

Photo from sxc.hu.  Used with permission.


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