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When was the last time you were late to something?  How did it make you feel?

Whether it’s late to a meeting at work, late to a doctor’s appointment or late to catch your flight–being late has a very high potential for creating stress.  Stress that can put a serious strain on you and your interpersonal relationships. The good thing is that stressing out over being late is totally optional.

When you realize that you’re running late, your mind may occupy itself with one (or more) of the following counter-productive tasks:

  • Frame the possible consequences of being late
  • Consider how your hypothetical excuses will be received
  • Devise ways to not be too late

Along with everything else you’re trying to keep organized in your head, it’s no surprise that you’re bound to forget something on your way out the door.

Usually, we’re alone when we rush about in our chaotic sphere of impatience.  Other times, however, you may not be alone.  You never really know how irritable you are until you find that you need to interact with another person while trying to deal with your tardiness.  You might snap, curse, ignore them…  Basically, you’ll be very disrespectful to them even if they’re just trying to help you out.

The worst comes when you have to drive because being late and stressed out has a direct effect on how much of an ass you are on the road, but it doesn’t stop at general unfriendliness.  Your driving could be affected to the point that you will become dangerous.  Speeding, spontaneous lane changes, tailgating, and cutting across multiple lanes of traffic are just a few things that can put you or someone else in the hospital, if you’re lucky.

If what I’ve described above sounds like someone you greet in the mirror every morning (and if you want to change your habits), there is hope for you, yet.  Here are a few things that might work for you:

  1. Avoid being late in the first place and give yourself enough time
    This one is a no-brainer.  Always be sure to give yourself enough time to  prepare for and/or commute to your appointment.
  2. Be on your way before your time is up
    From the time you’ve given yourself in step 1, aim to be totally set 10 to 15 minutes before you planned to be ready.  The 10-15 is more or less an arbitrary range, so pick a window that’s comfortable and reasonable for you.
  3. Don’t dawdle!
    Say you’re running ahead of schedule.  Great!  However, just because you have time to spare doesn’t mean you can take a minute or two to do something totally unrelated to your prep.  Stay on task and you will stay on time.
  4. If you’re late, accept that you’re going to be late
    This skill guarantees the best results but it’s also the hardest one to master.  If you’re already running late you obviously don’t want to waste more time, but stick with your prep routine and take it in stride.  If you have to drive, be cognizant of how you’re driving and reiterate to yourself that it’s more important to get there safely than to rush.  Also, if you keep your cool you’ll find it easier to be a respectable and respectful human being (and really, who doesn’t appreciate one of those?).

Of course individual results may vary, but I hope some of this stuff sticks with you and helps you live longer and live happy 🙂