Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Art of Being 'On Time'

Photo courtesy of laffy4k

This is definitely a learned art, except for those few very lucky people to whom it seems to come naturally.
It does not come naturally to me, though I am learning. I think the biggest secret is I have come to accept the reality that, left to my own devices, I have no realistic concept of time. My husband, on the other hand, is always on time. He gets to places nice and early, with time to get a coffee if he wants or just get into his meeting, help set up chairs, and take off his coat. We have been married nearly 18 years and it was only about two years ago that I decided he might actually have something to teach me.

I watched him for awhile and realized that he started getting ready to go WAY before the idea would have ever even occurred to me. If he is going to hockey after the kids are in bed, he will start getting his hockey stuff together after work. When leaving for church on Sundays, he will suggest getting the kids' coats on at least 10 minutes before I would have started. He is either one of those lucky people who have a built-in realistic clock or he has learned the art of being on time.

As someone without a realistic internal clock, here is what I do:
First of all, I listen to Steve if he says we have to get ready at a particular time. I used to always disagree, saying, "Oh, we don't have to leave then. We don't want to be too early." HUH?! Why not? And, was this ever really a problem for me, anyway? Nope.

Second, I take a couple of minutes to make a realistic mini-schedule for myself. This is a little secret that has helped me immensely in the art of being on time. Yesterday, we had homeschool skating as we do every week. I took out a little scrap of paper and wrote the time skating begins and the kids have to be on the ice. Next, I wrote when we wanted to arrive at the arena. Then, I worked backwards writing the things we had to do to get ready to go and assigning lots of time to each thing. Here's how it turned out:
  • 11:10am Heat up soup
  • 11:15am Pack Car
  • 11:25am Eat Lunch
  • 12:15pm Get outerwear on and get out to car
  • 12:45pm Arrive at Art Store (I had an errand)
  • 1:10pm Arrive at rink
  • 1:30pm Skating starts
We arrived on time and the kids were ready to go when they needed to be. The great thing about making a mini-schedule is that there are all kinds of little checks in place to keep you on track. It is hard to remember that it takes a long time to get several children ready to go, especially in the winter.

Well, I'd better go take my own advice. We have a very busy week and we need to get ready to go!


  1. I grew up with a mother that was never ever late for anything. She would rather have been 30 minutes early than 5 minutes late. My father was (is) the opposite. We were always waiting for him (he was actually only minutes late, but my mom usually acted as if it were hours!). Thanks to my mom's constant prodding I was never late for anything... until I moved out on my own! I was shocked by the realization that my personality is really more like my dad's.

    Thanks to my mom's constant reminders over the years about how rude it is to be late and keep people waiting I am usually pretty punctual, but I often feel like my hair is on fire as I run out the door! I like your mini-schedule idea. When there are littles that can't get ready to go on their own it is always important to factor in a little extra time, isn't it?

  2. I know just what you mean! I often feel like my hair is on fire, too. However, when I do use the mini-schedule and we have lots of time, I find that I have to actually retrain myself not to be stressed out because after years of constant near-lateness, it is automatic to be stressed. My husband never feels like this -- unless he listens to me about when to get ready to go!