If you’re reading this, you probably don’t need this advice. So, share it with the people in your life who do — especially if they are making you chronically late.
According to the Art of Manliness, when George Washington’s secretary arrived late to a meeting, and blamed his watch for his tardiness, Washington quietly replied, “Then you must get another watch, or I another secretary.” When it comes to being punctual, I feel as strongly as President Washington did.
Being perpetually on time isn't just something that the universe magically grants us. It takes a little planning, some good habits, and some serious self-reflection.
I recently reminded my chronically-late husband that he was running behind. “Time is an illusion,” he replied. I paused…
Me: Would you say you’re usually on time?
Husband: For the important stuff, like the airport, yes.
Me: So what you’re saying is that by being 15 minutes late for everything we plan together you’re letting me know that isn't the “important stuff.”
Husband: That’s about right.
There may have been a long awkward silence. Not saying for sure.
When you’re chronically late, people can assume that you:
But (mostly) that isn’t true. Right? You’re a good person. Aren’t you?
This past week, I met three friends for drinks. All three are incredibly successful high-powered career women that have WAY more important things on the go than meeting me socially. Fact. And yet, all three arrived within 30 seconds of one-another. Moreover, they arrived within a minute of our designated meeting time. It was clear that something other than divine intervention had created this perfect display of time-precision. These three women had internalized being on-time as part of who they are…they owned time.
7 ways to make time your b*!@#:
1. First, ask yourself: “Am I chronically late?” Be honest: If you are always the last one there, you are chronically late. If people say to you “you’re late” or don’t act surprised when you say “I’m late” then yes, you are chronically late. Know thyself.
Admitting defeat on this point is the first step to being on-time.
2. Harness the power of marketing, and re-brand yourself. You USED to be someone who was late all the time. NOW, you are reliable, focused, organized, and punctual. You are important enough to be selective about your events, yet you are organized enough to care about the things you do. Aren’t you awesome?!
3. Be a pessimist. The chronically-late are far too optimistic about how long things will take. Over-estimate everything: how long it takes you to shower, how long it takes you to pack, how long it takes you to get from Point A to Point B. A good rule of thumb is to add 20% to everything you plan.
And, if you have kids, take that and use the following equation:
These are well-known and scientifically proven algorithms.
Also, expect the unexpected. I worked for years in a fast-paced, events-driven job with VIPs and busy schedules. What is the most important thing I learned when planning an event? Expect that everything will go wrong. Then prepare for it. Apply this upbeat little advice-gem when planning your day!
4. Use a schedule. Am I actually suggesting that modern, organized, people don’t use a written/electronic method for tracking their appointments? Yes. I am. I have seen seemingly organized people fail to take down their appointments. Even your kids are encouraged to develop this vitally important skill at school.
If you’re like me and live by your Google Calendar, set a reminder alarm for yourself. Set the reminder early enough that you have time to do something about it, should you have forgotten your next obligation.
5. Manage expectations and say no. Take a look at your next-day’s calendar of events each evening. First, have you been pessimistic enough? If not, don’t be afraid to move appointments. People take much more kindly to an event being rescheduled the night before than they do when they’ve been sitting alone at a table for 20 minutes.
Don't be afraid to say “no.” In our fast-paced, “voluntold” world where mothers are expected to have it all together at work, at home, in their own brains, plus have a little extra time and energy for every request ever made of them, EVER…..sometimes it’s better than ok just to say “no” now. See?! – You’re already freeing up some time in tomorrow’s schedule.
6. Let go of the “fashionably late” maxim. That’s equivalent to “chicly rude” or “trendily selfish.” You’re an adult now.
7. Be empathic. Life is busy, and if having a child has taught me anything so far (heaven knows, I’m learning everyday) it’s that time is not slowing down for me, or anyone else. I never feel like there is a moment to finish a coffee while it’s still hot, to go to the bathroom alone, to write a blog post while my daughter is napping, or to accomplish all the have-tos and want-tos I have each day.
But guess what: I’m not the only one who feels that way. Be kind to your fellow humans. They’re just as busy as you, and they took steps to meet you on time. Please do the same for them.
In the middle of writing this post, I had a brunch date with a good friend across town. It was a Murphy ’s Law travel experience: every possible thing that could go wrong did.
Traffic, bakery lines, baby requirements (read: poopsplosion with an Indy-500 bum change, roadside), what looked like a construction crew drilling for oil over three blocks of a major street, a parade of older folks and their souped up walkers…
I was late. Not a little bit late. 30-minutes late. Of course, I apologized profusely. You’ll never guess what she said: “no problem!” And she meant it. Why? Because this was an anomaly in our history.
Sometimes it’s ok to be late, but make it the exception, not the rule.
Being on time is a message to other people regarding how you feel about them. But, it needs to be a message to you as well. Teaching yourself to be chronically on time will give you a feeling of control and calmness.
Time will be your b*!@# if you put in the…time. And if you can give yourself this organized habit, who knows what wild type-A organized frontiers you will conquer next.
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
So it is with nature, life, and your sweaters.
Twice a year. I make the pilgrimage out to the shed, bring in the seasonally appropriate clothing, and do the seasonal clothing swap. This is one of the things about being an adult that’s not as fun as being able to stay up as late as you want.
A good friend recently told me: “Being an adult is the difference between saying you’re going to do something, and actually doing it.” With that guilt trip in mind, let’s make this easy. Here’s your checklist:
OUT WITH THE OLD
Go through all closets, drawers, and cupboards and pull out anything too summery to survive the next 6 months of Canadian weather.
Purge: If you haven’t worn it since the spring clothing swap, it needs to go. Here are some great places to donate:
Purging is a full-time hobby for me. If you have trouble with this step, just give me a shout. I've been known to take clothes directly off of my husband and put them in our donation bag. I've also been known to commit a little sock-icide every now and then...
Wash ‘em. Spit-up on shirt sleeves is much harder to deal with after a six-month set-in period.
Pack your spring/summer items in:
Tubs. Make sure to label the top and side for easy access.
Vacuum bags. This was my first year trying this method: Easy and great for those with less storage! When my husband and I first met I lived in a four-hundred-and-fifty square foot bachelor appartment. She was a cozy wee place with just enough room for breathing and sleeping. I wish I had known about these then.
Clear shoe boxes. These deserve their own post at some point. Their clear sides make for easy identification! My stepmom has a slight shoe addiction, so these work for her everyday shoes as well as the seasonal ones.
Stow the tubs/bags/boxes until springtime. Put them wherever your space permits: garage, top of your closet, or under the bed. See you soon, sandals!
Set yourself a calendar reminder to spring into action for your spring wardrobe: You will want to aim for early April. This is Canada, so be both optimistic and flexible.
IN WITH THE NEW
Purge: the sequel. When it comes to fashion, my mom always says, "Doubt means don’t." Get rid of it unless you're certain you’ll wear it again.
For your kids, this is an important step because it’s likely they have outgrown many of last year’s fall/winter items.
Wash ‘em. Get rid of dust and any crusty critters.
Make any repairs required.
Fall in love with your new(ish) wardrobe!
It’s tough to be an adult. But this wasn’t so hard, was it?
So your family is coming to dinner…
Well, mine is. They’ll all be here this coming Monday to celebrate Thanksgiving.
My family is big, loud, funny, dynamic, quick-talking, and just a little too honest. It’s situations like these that make me grateful my husband loves to cook, while I micro-manage the heck out of everything else.
I know that my to-do list will include shopping, cleaning, and re-arranging to squish more chairs around our table.
In all of this hubbub, it’s important for me to remember this: it’s not the absence of dust-bunnies that make a host’s home feel warm, inviting, and special. It’s the small things that sparkle.
When I was in elementary school, my best friend’s mom always made her house feel like a hotel. Little soaps in the bathroom, luscious wildflower arrangements in blue glass bottles, rolled hand-towels in the washroom. Granted, she did actually WORK for a hotel. And, not surprisingly, I loved to stay there because her sparkly touches made me feel welcome and special.
Special touches do not have to be complicated, expensive, or time-consuming.
I decided to talk to some former hotel employees to get their secrets on how to go that extra mile for your guests. Here are 5 easy things you can do to give your holiday guests the hotel experience:
1. “Zhush-up” your TP: Make your guests feel like theirs is the only bum ever to grace your commode. Start with your toilet paper. Hotels will always fold the ends of their toilet paper into a pretty point. Easy and sweet.
You can also upcycle the tissue paper that is too battered to put back in your wrapping drawer, and roll your toilet paper in pretty (holiday themed or house colour-schemed) tissue. We all love visiting a hotel for the feeling of “I am the only person ever to inhabit this room” and this colourfully packaged TP should do the trick.
Plus, you were going to throw out that tissue paper anyway!
2. Use rolled hand towels: While you’re at the dollar store or Ikea, grab some cheap, white, facecloths. These ones were forty-nine cents each. Roll-'em-up and stick ‘em in a basket. Voila! You’re such a Martha Stewart (minus the jail-time).
3. The “pillow mint” or equivalent: This year, I’ll be having an overnight guest after our family meal (Hi Mom!). It takes almost no effort to put a little treat on your guest’s bed. If you have a gift cupboard, you are already ahead of me on this one: use what you have! Do not go out and get something specifically for this. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
- Any treat you have stockpiled from the Dollar Store (chocolate, scotch mints, even a cute lollipop)
- Adorable stationary
- The little bottles of liquor that come in gift packages
- The perfume or cosmetics sample that came with your Shoppers Drug Mart purchase
…really. Anything works. Plus, if your dinner was the pits that evening, this token offering will go a long way to making up for that.
4. Hotel toiletries and tiny samples for guests: The samples are my absolute favourite part of staying in a hotel. These teeny bursts of toiletry bliss are like a little product-vacation in themselves. Plus, you can only use so many individually wrapped shower caps, so then you get to TAKE THEM HOME (said in the Oprah giveaways voice)! You can put them in a cute basket, on a cheap cake plate, or even keep them stowed in a special “guests” drawer. Any way you keep ‘em, now is the time to use ‘em.
5. Make your own shaved soap curls: When one of my secret hotel sources suggested this, it sounded both weird and hard. Then I tried it.
I have spent the entire day searching for muck piles to touch so that I have an excuse to wash my hands. I am not messing around here. I could not be more against make-work-projects…this is different.
To create these little strips of paradise, I took one of the free hotel soap samples I have in my stash. I then ran the vegetable peeler down the side of the bar = instant bliss. How often can we have that much fun in our own bathroom? [insert awkward poop joke here]
Going the extra mile for your guests does not have to be a stretch. In fact, these little touches may even make you feel like a guest in your own home.
Are you a current/former hotel employee? I’d love your secrets for giving guests those special experiences! Maybe you’re an avid traveller who has seen an amazing hotel touch that could be re-created at home? I would love your ideas—I’m sure there would be enough material for another post on this topic.