Tardiness spurs reflection on time management
Pets, lovable as they are, can be a constant source of distraction. (Photo: Grace Brown)
By Grace Brown, Opinion Contributor
To many, tardiness is a chronic symptom of the illness plaguing most college students: an exhausting combination of crowded scheduling and overcommitment. We are expected day in and day out to contribute constructively to class discussions, submit satisfactory work before deadlines, participate in extracurricular activities and perform some kind of income-earning task in order to support any personal enterprises we might entertain, all while trying to find time for adequate sleep, proper nutrition and mental recuperation.
The culmination of these tasks can feel insurmountable. Understandably, the result is a burnt-out, apathetic and consistently late individual. Is there any way to overcome the challenge of promptness faced by so many of our peers? I think the answer is yes.
The easiest way to approach this issue will be a segmented approach consisting of objective observation, logical analysis and practical implementation — similar to methods conducted by researchers in scientific studies.
First and foremost, one must view their own schedule in an unbiased manner. Consider your daily routine, and notice the moments when you are arriving late — whether it be just a few minutes, or closer to a half an hour. Is this a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence, or does it happen repeatedly?
For example, a friend of mine noted that I reliably showed up to class every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11:52. Despite class starting at 11:50 each day, I managed to arrive two minutes late, on the dot, every time.
This is a classic example of tardiness that can easily be resolved. Using an unbiased comment from a third party, I was assisted in perceiving a recurring flaw in my schedule. You can do this for yourself if you can manage viewing yourself as a friend might: helpfully, but critically.
Upon identifying the moment which requires work in order to attain punctuality, one can begin to critique their future actions to ameliorate the situation. Logically, discern where you might need more time in order to make it to an appointment, commitment, class, etc.: promptly.
Do you need another two minutes for the commute, due to the unpredictable nature of traffic? Or do you sometimes forget your student ID, or credit card, or water bottle, and need to turn around and run back upstairs for it? Identify the flaw in your routine and analyze it.
Knowing this scenario will inevitably reoccur, how can you help future you be prepared and avoid tardiness going forward? It is only upon discerning this fact that you can begin to resolve the issue.
For example, in my case, if I know that I always get delayed just before leaving, whether because I need to fill up my water bottle, or let my dog out, or search for my sneakers. I can apprehend the scenario for next time and help future me get out the door more quickly. I will fill up my water bottle the night before, put my shoes in the same place every time I take them off (so I always know right where they are) and set an alarm reminding myself to take my dog out a few minutes before it is entirely necessary to leave.
These simple changes don’t take much effort; simply foresight. Yet they ensure I have sufficient time to get to class on time. Taking the smallest degree of mindfulness ahead of time can set ourselves up for maximum success in the future.
That being said, the actual implementation of this concept can be the most challenging aspect of the process. The tasks taken to help out future you seem so remedial and insignificant — such as refilling a water bottle before bed — that we run the risk of neglecting them altogether. It verges on silly, or even crazy, to put one’s shoes, keys, wallet, mask, etc. in the same place every day just to ensure that it will be easier (and faster) to find the next day.
But it is in these moments of skepticism that we must reevaluate the absolute preciousness of time. Time is the only thing in life we are completely incapable of acquiring more of; we can always work for more money, make more friends or even have more children. Yet, when time is gone, it never comes back.
Perhaps this existential consideration may be conducive to the application of incremental alternations in our daily schedules, all of which collectively mount to make us more punctual people.
Is the effort spent ahead of time in the 60 seconds of gathering your essentials, three minutes of loading the car or six minutes of preparing your breakfast truly more painful than hurrying desperately the next day?
Not only does such dramatic urgency encourage irrationality, such as contentious and abrupt verbal exchanges or potentially dangerous decisions (such as those made from behind the wheel of a car) but it causes stress and decreases the overall quality of our daily routines.
Moreover, it is foolish and preventable. Each and every one of us can recognize flaws in ourselves and acknowledge the need to adjust accordingly. We are all capable of providing our future selves with the tools they need not only to succeed, but to do so in a timely manner as well.