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As long as I’ve been alive I’ve been late. I was 2 weeks late for my expected due date and the rest is history. It never really mattered that much to me to be on time, but I can vividly remember all the times in my life when my mother and father would pull out their hair out because I was taking too long to get ready. I even meant to write this question a few weeks ago and didn’t get around to it until now. Ugh, such is my life. Now I’m an adult and it’s not just my parents pulling out their hair, it’s my bosses. I’ve received several notices on my performance reviews that I am often late to work and even late to meetings. I was able to pull it together for a while after the first time or two my bosses caught me walking in late, but over time I find myself slipping back into tardy mode. I obviously want to keep my job but I just don’t know if I’m capable. Any ideas?
-Late to work
Dear Late To Work,
I can relate to your morning time struggle. I have always had a hard time waking up in the morning and have struggled with being late to work at different times in my life. Research suggests that at least part of the struggle isn’t our fault. Scientists found that all of us are biologically predisposed to at least 2 different sleep/wake patterns, which they have deemed Larks (morning people) and Owls (night people). While these predispositions help us to understand why we may struggle in the morning, they don’t necessarily give us answers.
My guess is that your answer does not start with the morning time but actually with the nighttime. As in bedtime. A good place to start is with getting yourself to bed earlier. Sleep is vital. It helps our bodies and minds recharge for the next day and is critical to good health outcomes. Research suggests that most adults require between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. I would encourage you to make sure that you are allowing yourself enough time to prepare for and obtain adequate sleep during the night to see how that affects your morning time alertness. If you are obtaining adequate sleep, but are still feeling unrested when you wake in the morning, you may benefit from consulting a physician for a sleep evaluation as you may be experiencing a sleep-wake disorder.
The more important question for you may not be how to get to work on time but why. You mentioned that being on time has never been that important for you and it seems as though this may still be getting in the way for you.
My guess is that your answer does not start with the morning time but actually with the nighttime. As in bedtime.
If this job was really important enough you would find a way to make it there on time. Getting to sleep earlier, waking up earlier, leaving the house earlier; fundamentally, you are the only one that can get yourself to work on time. Consider that there are jobs out there that aren’t part of the 9-5 grind. Also consider the possibility of working for yourself. When you’re self-employed, there is no boss to answer to but yourself.
Dear Late To Work,
Do you like to make people feel frustrated, sad, upset? Probably not, but those are the emotions that are being evoked by the people who have to wait on you. Being late is rarely good. Unless it’s ridiculously fashionable, and then you only get that late once in awhile no matter how good you look.
I am completely guilty of being late to things. I have witnessed the disappointment that I bring to people I love by showing up past a mutually agreed meeting time. It’s a horrible feeling because what it communicates is that you value something else more than you value being on time. It’s a bad habit.
Thankfully, bad habits can be broken and new timely routines can be established. How much time do you need in the morning to get ready? How much time does it take to get to work? You need to figure out how long things actually take. So, if figuring out what shoes you are going to wear in the morning is a time suck, pick them out the night before. It’s about planning accordingly and making sure you have a realistic idea on how the clock is ticking.
Thankfully, bad habits can be broken and new timely routines can be established. -Kate
If you want to grow in your career, gain respect from your bosses and coworkers and actually keep your job, you have got to start getting to work on time, turning projects in before deadline and investing in your work. Start with figuring out how much time you need in the morning to make it to work on time, give yourself a little cushion and show up before the bell rings. It’s not only a form of job security, but it will make you feel good too.