Nobody likes to be late because it is considered a sign of irresponsibility and lack of discipline. However, not all people can master how to always be on time, especially if they have a busy schedule or there is a sudden change of plans. Arriving in a certain place on time, or finishing a job on time involves effective task management rather than frequent reminders, alarms or notes on the fridge.
Reminders, time management software or notes don’t have an extraordinary effect if you have no physical possibility of accomplishing a task on time or arriving to a meeting on time. This is why you may want to focus on improving your task management skills rather than being concerned about hours and minutes, which, over time, will translate into more free time available to reach your destination so you won’t be late anyway.
Being Late Creates A Self-Sustaining Negative Loop That Amplifies Anxiety and Frustration
If being on time is not something you can easily achieve, whether caused by poor self-discipline, poor evaluation of your abilities, or a busy, spontaneously changing schedule, then you may have accumulated a substantial amount of anxiety and panic associated with being constantly late for meetings or deadlines.
This anxiety can reinforce your habit of being late because it can keep you disorganized, stressed and less efficient in your task management and daily routine. How can you break this loop of reinforcing your own anxiety and being late all the time? How about advice from people who might pay with their lives if they fail at time management?
Solid time and task management techniques are what elite special forces in the military need to learn during training before they can go on real missions.
Learn to how to always be on time from the Navy SEALs
The US Navy SEALs are elite special forces who fight terrorists and conduct covert operations where timing is critical. If you are late for a work meeting, you may lower your chances of being promoted or receive that bonus at the end of the year. If a team of Navy SEALs is late for a hostage rescue or they miss the extraction helicopter, it may cost them their lives and or the lives of the people they are trying to save.
It is obvious that whatever task and time management techniques they use to reach a target or an extraction point on time is working because they are considered the number one elite force in the United States, and probably in the world.
It is essential to understand that they don’t focus on reminders, notes, hours or minutes. Instead, they focus on quickly and efficiently accomplishing a task, so that they can move on to the next one on time. This actually translates into almost never being late for anything, except in extreme circumstances that are out of their control.
Four Mental Techniques That Can Cultivate “Always Being On Time” In Yourself
Navy SEAL operators use four mental techniques to increase their time management skills and accomplish missions more efficiently, which is why they are never late for a hostage rescue or extraction point. These four techniques are goal setting, mental rehearsal or visualization, self talk, and arousal control. They may sound simple to you, but it takes a lot of effort and discipline to combine them into a set of abilities that can result in always being on time.
1) Goal Settings Involves Micro-Managing Each Step of the “Mission”
Goal setting does not mean long-term goals or exactly what you want to do in life. Navy SEAL members understand the benefits of goal setting and define it as breaking a task into smaller components that are easier to accomplish, and staying focused on each step rather than being consumed with anxiety provoking thoughts about the large goal. Divide your work routine or daily schedule in smaller tasks that you can do easily without becoming nervous or anxious. Engage in micro-managing those small tasks and stop obsessing about your entire busy daily schedule. You are more likely to get things done faster and more efficiently, which can help you to be on time for your next task or meeting. Also, learn to prioritize your tasks, and don’t refuse to start on urgent tasks just because you are anxious about the end results. Instead, break them into smaller specific parts that can increase your self-confidence as you progressively accomplish them. For example, if you are a busy mom with kids at home, you can learn how to always be on time, by thinking of your family as a SEAL team on a mission with its members continuously fighting each other rather than accomplishing the mission. As the leader of the Navy SEAL team, your task is to divide the “mission” into manageable components so that your house does not “explode” from chaos and lack of discipline.
2) Mental Rehearsal Increases The Efficiency Of Your Work
Mental rehearsal involves visualizing each small step or component of your larger goal before you proceed at working on it. You can picture in your mind as clearly as possible what is it that you want to do next in sufficient detail. It allows you to proceed to the next task with less anxiety and doubts because your mind has already pictured a sequence of actions that can result in getting that task done. Try to imagine possible obstacles and how you can overcome them if they occur, which can relieve the fear of the unknown when you actually start doing a specific task. To continue with our real-life analogy, visualizing where your kids are at a particular moment and how to prevent them from “damaging” your “military base” is engaging in visualization, which saves you time for other more useful things and facilitates being on time for other tasks.
3) Positive Self Talk Enhances Your Self Confidence And Contributes To A Successful Outcome
Self talk is a technique that improves your self confidence when you feel overwhelmed with doubt and stress. Saying positive, encouraging words to yourself during your daily routine allows you to mobilize your energy resources and eliminate negative thoughts that cause you to become ineffective and anxious, which frequently translates into being late. If you are already late for an important meeting, engage in self talk to reduce the intensity of fear and panic associated with potential consequences, and promise yourself to change your habits in the future. For example, if you are a candidate for a job, and you are literally “shaking” from fear of rejection during your interview, positive self talk and Navy SEAL toughness can certainly help you.
4) Arousal Control Prevents Being Overwhelmed By Chaos Or Unexpected Circumstances
Arousal control involves focusing on your breath rather than obsessing about the fact that you are late. Breathe deeply and be aware of your own breath, which calms down the stress-response regions of your brain. Learn to disconnect from the situation for a few seconds and control your breathing, slow down the pace and think about your priorities. Whether you are a busy mom with children at home, a student before an important exam, or a business person making an important decision, arousal control help prevent “explosions” in your mind and help you stay with your time schedule even when you are surrounded by chaos.
If you are willing to implement these techniques in your daily life, then you may soon forget how it feels to be late and stressed out. It is unlikely that you will be able to use them all at once without becoming distracted by daily emotions, but do your best to make them a part of your work ethic and your will always be on time, which can increase your self confidence and your chances to achieve success in your career or social life.