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Are You Chronically Late for Everything? Here’s How to Be on Time

There is a lot going on in recovery. You have 12-Step meetings all over town, doctors’ appointments to get to, therapy appointments, workouts, coffee dates with friends, plus commitments to help others move, to go grocery shopping, and to answer the phone and listen when others need support. You also have to manage the unexpected things that arise, including your own emotional shifts. With all these things at play, it is not always easy to get where you need to be in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, when you are late, it sends a message

It says you do not take the thing you are supposed to show up for seriously and that you do not value the time and attention that others have invested in order to be at the appointed place on time.

The truth is that you are in complete control of being on time. You can choose to create patterns that allow you to get where you need to be without chaos. You are worth it and important enough to prioritize – and so are all the things you want in life, from functional and healthy friendships to being successful at work and in recovery.

Here’s how you can get started making changes in your life that allow you to live without the chaos of always being late:

  • Make a plan. Before you go to bed at night, look at where you need to be and what you need to do the following day. Figure out how long it will take you to get wherever you’re going and figure out what time you need to leave. Then, determine how long it will take you to get ready and get your things together for the day and double that time to make sure you can accommodate anything unexpected. Do what you can the night before – like setting out clothes, making breakfast or a to-go lunch, and packing your bag – to make things as easy as possible.
  • Give yourself extra time. If you think it will take you 30 minutes to get ready, give yourself an hour. If you think it will take 20 minutes to get where you are going, leave with 30 minutes to spare. If you end up being early, great! This sends the message to the people you are meeting that they are important to you and you are there for them, and it decreases your stress level at the same time.
  • Bring a time filler. If you are finding that you are having a hard time accomplishing all you want to do and that is contributing to your lateness, make sure you always have something with you that needs to be done. When you are early, you can read a book, journal for therapy, or complete homework or work, so you are continually making progress on things you want to do.
  • Drop unimportant things. It may be that your schedule is unrealistic or overly packed so you are unable to finish one thing before it is time to begin the next thing on your schedule. If you have things scheduled too tightly, change the time for one so they no longer conflict. If you are scheduling in an hour-long workout before work and find that you are routinely late, cut the workout to 30 minutes or plan your workouts for after work instead. If you simply have too many commitments, drop the ones that are the least important to give yourself time and space to show up for your top priorities, especially those commitments that are recovery-related.
  • Set yourself up for success. Take a good hard look at your schedule and note the things that you are routinely late for. Do you find that you are late for work in the morning on a regular basis? Are you having a hard time getting from one appointment to the next? Do you forget certain appointments routinely? Use the resources available to you to help you manage these issues, like setting alarms throughout the day to remind you when it’s time to leave and backup alarms as well. Create to-do lists and check them frequently. Set up reminders on your phone, and work together with other people so you are traveling with them to appointments or places that you both need to be together. There are a number of time management apps and tools that are available to help you organize your life and get where you need to be on time.

When you get organized about your life and work on being on time to the things you want to do, you will find you have more time to accomplish the things that need to get done in general. Additionally, actively managing your time can help to decrease stress and limit negative interactions with others that are based on others’ perceptions of your lateness, which can remove triggers for relapse.

The best way to get started is to pick one thing on the above list and implement it to the best of your ability. How will you begin the process of improving your time management this month and showing up on time for your life?