Running late is really easy to do even if you don’t have ADD or ADHD. We tend to underestimate the time that it takes us to go someplace. We have an appointment at 10:30 and we may not leave until 10:30, so we get there at 10:45 instead. AD/HD people may have a 10:30 appointment, only remember it at 10:45, and then get there at 11:00.
How to cope with this?
Strategy #1: You can fool yourself. You can make the appointment for 10:30 and then write 10:15 on your calendar. Or you can set your clock ahead by 15 minutes so that you think you are leaving at 10:30 but you are really leaving at 10:15. Sometimes that “oh my gosh I’m late” feeling is enough to jolt you out of your task so that you can start getting ready. (This can be an effective strategy, although sometimes it feels like you are lying to yourself.)
Strategy #2: You can learn to take into account travel time and pad your schedule a bit. Find out how long it takes you to go to school or work and then calculate backwards from the preferred time of arrival so that you know the time when you absolutely must leave the house to not be late. This is the ZERO HOUR and must be kept sacred to the activity of walking out the door. This strategy was a big help for keeping me on time to school consistently.
Train yourself to begin to prepare to leave about 10 minutes before you think you need to leave. This will give you enough time to stop and think about whether you have everything before you go. It will also ensure calmness. It will give you a little extra time to find things you may have misplaced or lost (like keys, wallet, etc.) or time to get through unexpectedly bad traffic.
You mothers have an additional challenge. The more children you have, the longer it will take you to gather the kids, gather the kids stuff, pack the kids in the car, pack the stuff in the car, unpack kids and stuff from car to go to an appointment. Kids take longer, so don’t forget to allow enough time for that. My mom (who had seven kids) learned to allow herself 30 minutes travel time before appointments because it would take that much time to wrangle us kids into the van. She preferred to set her watch 30 minutes ahead.
My mom told me about the tricks she had to play on herself so that she could be on time for things. Because of that, I learned that chronic lateness can be remedied with coping techniques and strategies. I learned that if I noticed that kind of problem, rather than just throwing up my hands and calling myself a “late person,” I could think about what caused me to be late and think up a plan for something I could do to making it easier to be on time.
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