Here's What Happened When I Tried to Be Punctual for a Week

A nickname my family and boyfriend have given me is Late Lindsey. For years—over a decade, even—I've had trouble being on time for things. I'm certain it's hereditary. I vividly remember standing on the sidewalk outside of school long after the other kids had gone home, waiting for my mom to pick me up only because she'd leave the house too late (quite hypocritical of her to give me such a nickname, no?). But it's a selfish habit that's ingrained into my routine. I'll know I need to leave the house immediately in order to reach my destination on time, and still, I'll continue curling my hair or checking my email or doing some sort of nonsensical task that definitely doesn't need to be done at that very moment. Then, I'll look down at the clock, yell some sort of expletive, and run out my apartment like a tornado, panicking the entire commute—perhaps shooting off some apology texts or emails.

It's incredible, really—I'm consistently 20 to 30 minutes late wherever I go, so you'd think if I just factored in that extra time, I'd never have an issue. But the truth is, I'm what psychologists call an "idealist." I convince myself I can continue lounging in my robe because "I can do my hair quickly" or "do my makeup in the Uber there," but really, I end up leaving the house way later than I should have. It's truly not deeper than that—I don't have any deep-seated inner monologue that's using lateness as a form of rebellion or to make a statement. I'm just a poor planner. So for a week straight, I decided to flip my lack of punctuality on its head, hoping it would develop into a habit. The result, below.

Photo:

Forever 21

Monday

I'll admit it—I started on a very rough note. This morning, I woke up early and decided to shoot off some emails and do work from my couch, and before I knew it, I was epically late getting ready and came into the office much later than I planned to. I had anxiety the entire elevator ride up to our floor and was mad at myself for trying to fit so much in that morning when I could've packed up and finished it in the office. Again, that idealist mentality.

Later that day, I had an interview at a hotel uptown and was only about five minutes late (though, thankfully my interviewee was running late too), then a dinner later in the evening that I was about four minutes late to. Not too shabby, but I still should've been earlier, especially since I'd be meeting other people and making them wait on me.

Tuesday

I had a breakfast this morning and was about… 20 minutes late (Hi, Gabi and Simone! Sorry again!). This was again due to poor planning and putzing around the apartment when I should've been getting ready. Then—to be perfectly fair—the trains weren't running in my favor. So we'll just pretend the MTA is to blame for my lateness. Everyone with me?

That evening, I had a dinner with my friend who's always punctual and checked the train schedule to see what time I'd need to leave. It was about a 20-minute walk from my office and the weather was lovely, so I decided to take a stroll. She got there before me, of course, but I was only about two to three minutes late. 

Wednesday

Another rough start. This morning, I had a very early breakfast at a restaurant situated impossibly far uptown all the way on the West Side (I recently moved to Brooklyn), and although the location wasn't in my favor, I certainly booked the Uber too late and had to shamefully sneak into the restaurant during a presentation. Again, poor planning on my part. Also, for some ungodly reason, I decided to stay up until 1 a.m. watching the latest episode of The Handmaid's Tale the night before, which didn't help my cause at all. 

Thursday 

This morning, I had a very important dentist appointment to get veneers all the way uptown on the Upper East Side (story to come soon!). I got up early but was still doing my hair and makeup until the last possible minute and had to rush out of the apartment. I was about 10 minutes late, and I was making the dental team wait on me, which isn't cool. Also, if I'd left earlier, I could have taken a subway, but because I was already running late, I had to take a $51 Uber. So I had to both literally and figuratively pay for my untimeliness. Sigh

Friday

I worked from home this day and got up early, made some coffee, and hopped on my computer straight away and started firing off some work. It felt awesome to get a head start, the same head start I should be getting on any other day, a byproduct of not waking up early enough, I'm sure. 

I was especially busy this entire day, so when my friend texted me that he wanted to meet up at 6 p.m. for drinks, I knew it was extremely unlikely, but we only had a small window of time to hang out, so I overpromised that I'd be able to make it to Union Square by 6:30 p.m. to meet up, knowing full well that it would be a tight squeeze. I ended up not getting to him until 30 or 40 minutes past 6:30 (I know—terrible) and felt panicked and stressed the entire way there.

So this challenge clearly didn't go swimmingly. I wasn't early for a single commitment the entire week, save for when I worked at home on Friday, but I was the only one affected by that feat—there was no one on the other side waiting for me. In every other case where another party was involved, I was late. Taking a step back and looking at this, I'm horrified that my poor time management is affecting other people's schedules. It's inconsiderate and could be easily avoided. So I made myself a list of all the things I've learned need to change in order for me to be more punctual:

1. Go to bed earlier, even if the next episode of Handmaid's looks like it's going to be epic.

2. Wake up earlier, which will be made easier by bullet point number one.

3. Forego unnecessary time-fillers like checking Instagram, opening email I could read on my commute, and anything else other than getting ready for wherever I'm going.

4. Shower at night to cut down on said getting-ready time.

5. Don't overpromise and underdeliver when making plans—be honest with myself when choosing a meet-up time because it'll make matters better for everyone.

Now that I have these tools, I intend to stick with them until they actually become a habit moving forward. Wish me luck.