I should be shouting this from the rooftops except I don't like heights. :) But seriously, for someone who has always been late like me this information has been a miracle. It might be your miracle too.
At first it was running to get the bus.
I can still feel the pavement smashing beneath my flats as I'm huffing and puffing to the bus stop in a mild panic. I did not want to slink home and tell my mom I needed a ride to school–again.
Later it was running to get to the Michigan State University Library to open it on time.
After four years of tardiness trauma they reluctantly let me go. I was a fantastic worker once I was there but having patrons stamping their feet in the cold waiting for me to unlock the door at 8:00am was not OK. I agreed with their decision even though it broke my heart. I loved that job.
I was trying to be on time. I wanted to be on time. But no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't do it.
It also didn't matter what I was doing.
Whether it was a fun activity or a dreaded activity–I was late and nothing I tried changed it. Not timers. Not starting earlier. Not putting out my clothes the night before. Not any of the 986 self-help solutions I gave a go. As the years ticked by being late took a toll on my self-esteem. I secretly wondered if something was wrong with me. I thought I was a good person but if I was, why did I keep people waiting? Maybe I wasn't such a good person after all.
But then I learned this ONE THING and everything changed.
I was reading up on Myers-Briggs again. It's my new sparkly interest, after all. One article said (I can't recall which): If you are late all of the time you might be a "P" in the Myers-Briggs Personalty Typing System. (I know I am. I'm ENFP.) "Perceivers" are people who like things to be open-ended. They like possibility. They may go on a vacation without an itinerary or pack at the last minute because they don't want to limit their options.
But that's not why they are late.
(They are also not late because they don't care. They may care very much.)
Perceivers are late because they think they can fit in "one more thing" before they go, and that thing takes more time than they have to spare.
It's an issue of calculating project-time.
It's also an issue of being deadline-inspired, which Perceivers are.
So it's 15 minutes until I have to go somewhere and, deadline looming, I'm suddenly inspired into taking an action: I know! I'll do the dishes. Or clean out that bookshelf. Or sort the recycling that's piled up. Or write back that friend. But that task ends up taking 25 minutes and now I'm 10 minutes late.
Come to find out this happens every time.
So the solution is: DON'T DO ANYTHING.
It's 20 minutes until I have to get in the car? Stop. No more projects. No last-minute things. Either get in the car and be early or sit and wait by the clock. Just don't entertain any of those ideas clamoring for attention now.
It was a strange thing getting to a meeting at someone's house on time today. We ended up chatting for a good while before the others showed up. I didn't mind, it was great hanging out and I felt good about myself. I had actually shown up on time with that easy grace I had so envied in others my whole life.
I had finally arrived.