It’s true. I have a serious problem.
If my life depended on me leaving my house on time to meet up with a friend, I guess it would be the end. If the world’s fate was in my hands, and all I had to do was go to bed on time, we’d all be in a load of trouble.
I didn’t used to be like this. When I first got my driver’s license, I always made sure I left on time. I was the one pushing the rest of my family into the car. I was the one with the schedule, with everything broken down by the hour for the maximum efficiency. I was never late to band practice. I didn’t stick around after school – I ran to my car and left before the crowd.
However… my time management skills have sort of taken a turn for the worse.
I still get everything done. Or at least, everything necessary. But I’m constantly rushing around, trying not to be late and trying not to change plans on everyone. (Spoiler: I pretty much fail constantly at being early and sticking to plans. I can think of one specific friend with extensive experience in my flakiness).
I’ve come to the realization that my lack of time management skills has become chronic. I know, I know. I’ve written pieces on this blog about how to be effective with your time (How to Not Suffer From Procrastination or The Time Black Hole). I’m not trying to contradict myself. I believe in all those values. And I try to the best of my ability to stay on top of things. But then life happens. Maybe you can relate.
There’s Too Much To Do
I’m the type of person to keep a written list of things I need to do. Currently, my white board in my room (yes… I have one of those) has haphazard notes of everything I need to do, but haven’t.
This white board is a great example of how my organization has deteriorated over the past year. For the first three years of my high school experience, I wrote all my homework on this white board, separated by class and due date. I would write the date at the top of the board, and everyday when I got home, I would update it with tomorrow’s date and homework. Sometimes I’d throw an inspirational quote up there too if I had any extra space.
Now, my white board is covered in sticky notes reminding me about incomplete college applications. I write haphazard reminders to myself in different colors, with no rhyme or reason (I used to pick a color pair of the week that was aesthetically pleasing and only write in that color). Sometimes there’s a written to-do list, but I regularly ignore it in favor of doing whatever it is I think it more important. For instance, instead of writing this blog post, like my list commanded, I spent an hour and a half decorating my room for Halloween.
The lists and lists of things I need to do have gotten so large that I don’t even look at them anymore. I might mentally rank a few things in my brain, and get those responsibilities finished, but the rest of my tasks remain untouched.
The worst part is that I’m not even wasting time! I don’t sit around idly at the TV or scroll through Twitter. I’m actually doing what I need to do… there’s just too much!
In my quest to finish something, I’ve gotten into a habit of not moving on when I need to. I know how long it takes to get to school for band practice, yet I wait another five minutes to leave because I * think * it’ll be fine. Therefore, I always show up later than I intended. I allow my overpacked schedule to push off “less important things” like writing, causing almost every single one of these blog posts to be written at the last minute.
There’s just too much to do. And not enough time with the schedule I have. So… I just show up later than I wanted to.
Too High Expectations
I love being on time to things. Being early is even better.
I always aim to be at least fifteen minutes early to band practice. So naturally I show up with only ten minutes to spare. Or five.
See, I’m not technically late. But I am.
Because by leaving my house later than I had intended, I push off how much time I have in the band room. That gives me less time to put my instrument together. To fill up my water bottle. To find my drill. To be five minutes early to the practice field (like everyone is supposed to be).
I put too much weight on being early. I think I’ll be able to prepare when I get there. That early time isn’t actually free time. It’s just more work.
What I need to do is think ahead. Instead of trying to make my time work with my tasks, I need to do my tasks with my time. I need to stop relying on being early in order to get everything done. This mindset is killing my productivity. I’m tricking myself into thinking I have time, when I really have none.
I’m Too Flexible
Over the summer, I came to the realization that I need to go with the flow. But I think I might have taken that a little too seriously.
I regularly allow people to derail my tasks. Instead of productively practicing, my section and I spend probably 30% of our sectionals messing around. In previous years, I might have been a little too intense and structured. I’m not sure whether this is an improvement or not, but it has become very clear that we get less done.
When I leave for band practice, I convince myself it takes less time to get to the school than it actually does. So I leave late. I’m collecting my stuff when I should have been backing out of the driveway.
Going with the flow definitely makes things less intense. But I’m not sure if it’s helpful. Maybe my personality just doesn’t work with a go-with-the-flow mentality. I desperately need structure, but sometimes structure stresses me out. But without structure, I become less and less reliable.
With all this lateness comes a related ailment: forgetfulness.
I was supposed to get my section pink bandannas for breast cancer awareness month. But I forgot. One of my friends offered to critique my writing and I was supposed to talk to her about it. But I forgot (multiple times, actually). I almost forgot to do some of my homework this past week because I was so focused on another assignment.
None of these are harmful yet. None have had negative effects on my life right now. But if I continue down this path of chronic lateness, I might just accidentally run myself into a blockade I forgot to see.
Do you know how to cure this? Do you have methods that work for you? I’d love to hear them! Drop your thoughts in the comments.