What that title reminds me of is the first time I became conscious - actively conscious - of people being late and that was reading Alice in Wonderland. Not that the White Rabbit was a person, but you know what I mean.
He appeared and disappeared in a whoosh of anxiety, staring at his pocket watch and saying, “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date!”
As a child, The White Rabbit used to really annoy me that he didn’t have time for Alice when she clearly needed help. And you know what? I still get annoyed when people are so stretched that they can’t give me the time needed for a meeting or a discussion or even just a cup of tea.
Most people who are perpetually late create a lot of stress, both in themselves and the people around them. The constant rushing around (which of course happens because being late for one meeting/event/conference, etc. means they have to rush) creates a whirlwind of activity.
Yet I often get the sense with people who are late that they are rarely fully present wherever they are.
They’re anxious about what they left behind because they had to rush off and things may have been left incomplete. They are equally anxious about the event they are attending now because their minds are focused on what happened previously and what’s next on the list.
I have one friend who used to ring me up and then tell me he couldn’t stay on the phone because he was ‘racing around’ and would be late for whatever appointment he had coming up. “Well, why did you ring me in the first place? Why don’t you ring me when you’re not racing around?” I’d say.
All that rushing around not only creates stress, it can give a false illusion of productivity – “Look. See how busy I am.”
It can also make the person doing the rushing feel as though they are on the brink of a crisis. All that adrenalin flowing through the bloodstream, all that anxiety swirling around, the heart pumping, blood-pressure increasing; all of that will have a physical and emotional impact and create a sense that there is impending doom.
Flapping around will give the ‘flapper’ a sense that they aren’t in control which will create more anxiety and an unhealthy cycle goes ‘round and ‘round.
Overscheduling is certainly one thing that causes speediness and lurching from one thing to another.
However, there are usually deeper issues than overscheduling for most people who are continually late.
Why overschedule in the first place? This can be because some people find it hard, if not downright impossible, to say ‘no’. It can be because they don’t want to miss out on anything so cram far too much into a day. It can be because they think they are irreplaceable and so they have to be at everything or because they don’t think they are irreplaceable and are uncertain of their position so feel they need to be everywhere.
Good time management isn’t about keeping a well-ordered Filofax (or the electronic equivalent); it’s about getting to the bottom of what drives you to overfill your diary which overfills your stress levels.
Once you get a good grasp of why you feel driven to overbook you can begin to address those larger issues. Even doing one less thing a day will be enormous progress.
By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory