Thursday, March 16, 2006

I'm Late, I'm Late...

I'm making a request for brainstorming strategies for being on time, managing time, and psychological reasons/stories for being late.

Here's the thing. I'm often 10-25 minutes late. Not good, I need to be bigger than this to accomplish my goals/missions.

Now my stories behind why I'm late are:
*1) I don't have an internal time clock in my brain and therefore can't accurately tell time (it was wiped out when I had head injury)

2) I have to use every minute up until the time I leave to finish all the projects I'm overextended on

3) Traffic is crazy and completely unpredictable in LA

Huh? Huh? Pretty good, right? Did I enroll any of you? Can I just keep being late?
Damn. I didn't think so.

Okay, so here's two strategies suggested to me already that I've started implementing:

1) Budget out day in 15 minute increments, and actually include blogging, email, web time.

2) Use my cell phone to set alarm reminders.

That first strategy in particular has given me some pretty interesting results. Makes me rebel a little, but also helps prove the point that being out of work TAKES A LOT OF EFFIN' WORK. At least 6 hours a day. Often really only have about 1 hour free. So the point is, I'm not out of work...I'm just not getting paid for it.

Reminds me of an anecdote from the Brick screening/Q & A last night (a podcast of which can be downloaded at iTunes, for you Scribosphere readers...and for my Michigan/heartland readers, yes Brick is worth driving a few hours to your closest independent cinema. It's that good). The writer/director Rian Johnson was talking about USC Film School's lack of career advice/strategizing, and how it basically added up to one brief interview with a career counselor with a heavy accent. The writer/director kept thinking he was being told to "Go where the other filmmakers go, and NOT WORK with them." Over and over, the counselor kept saying "NOT WORK." Rian finally realized twenty minutes into it guy was saying "NETWORK."

Okay, back to me and my issue. (See how I lose track of time? It's fun though, right?)

Here's a strategy I was given that I have not committed to implementing yet, that in fact made me want to take an oozie to my doctor (artiste-types are so tempermental):

1) Set cell phone or egg timer to off every 20 minutes for, oh let's say, THE REST OF MY LIFE.

Any other ideas, oh blogger community o' mine?


Kid Sis said...

Okay, just got an amazing email from a friend coaching me. Bottom line is being late is completely disrespectful and unacceptable.

I think there' another story/excuse why I'm late...I think I secretly want people to see I feel incompetent/not up to the task. And then maybe, I don't know...Maybe I'm hoping to not have to as good as I should be so I can take on less?

Like cheaters waiting to find their true selves discovered and validated...

Kid Sis said...

And if I've relearned other things, I can relearn time, even if that area of my brain is gone. I mean, painters who lose with their hands paint with their toes, right?

(remind me to tell you someday how not being able to tell time makes me immortal, in every way but the NOT DYING part...)

Oh hell, I'll tell you now...I can't tell if it's day or night or really feel time passing, so I'm always going to think I'm the age I was of the head injury...

Lynda said...

I haven't had a head injury, but other than that, I am the same way. After all, it is fashionably late. (Or maybe that is only for parties?)

What I do now is that I tell myself, "OK, I need to be there by 10:30 a.m. So, I will be ready at 9:30 a.m." I usually am then ready by 10, because I am fashionably late, but at least I made it where I want to go on time. You may have to set yourself to 9:00 a.m. though, to account for LA traffic.

Oh, and for some reason, I am never late for job interviews or first impressions. (Meeting someone for the first time.) I tend to digress into it.

The Egg timer/cell phone thing wouldn't work for me. I probably would procrastinate into setting it.

Christina said...

You are overanalyzing the issue my friend. THERE IS NO WHY. It just is. You have no intention of being disrespecful or do unacceptable actions.

You are really being too hard on yourself. Stop asking why and accept the wonderful person you are that we all know and love.

Set a schedule so that you will be closer to being on time and feel accomplished. You are doing so much, that the things you are doing you aren't celebrating.

Write them down as a schedule so that you will remind yourself of all the good work you did yesterday, last week, last month, etc. Feel good about what you are doing.

Your working your Ass off lady. Your on fire. Recognize it and appreciate You. For heaven sake Stop beating up on yourself! Sending love your way.

Lynne said...

Wow, the time-thing for your is fascinating, I had no idea a sense of time could even be lost.

As for being late:
I have another friend who is continually late, and I have felt it is disrespectful to those waiting, because they found it important enough to be there on time, and a consistent lateness simply feels as if the person doesn't find them important enough to be on time for. Now she doesn't have a brain injury that I know of, and she does have a lot of irons in the fire, as you do, or at least that's what she says...but we ALL have work, families, friends, priorities, and we all juggle things. And are you being late so you don't have to participate? Hmm.. Maybe so. Pare back.

That doesn't address the brain-injury part...and boy, can see how a cell phone timer going off every 20 minutes would drive you out of your mind! (vibrate it) I can only guess that structure is going to be helpful to you, though.

You do have a lot of things going, but you can handle them. Pare back, prioritize, and work your way down....what's that quote? "one bird at a time"?

And don't don't have to be perfect at everything.... it's ok to just be ok at some stuff. Don't beat yourself up to much, you're a pretty cool girl/chick/woman.

Painting with toes.... huh....

Anonymous said...

One suggestion -- as I often ahve problems with lateness, myself: budget out 15-20 mintues right before you go to sleep -- as in within an hour before crashing -- to doing SOME of the things you figure you already have time to do the next day.

Example -- if I know I have a meeting the next day, I'll take 15 minutes the night before that I NORMALLY do the same day, like ironing a shirt, printing out Mapquest directions, etc.

Think of it, my dear sci-fi-geekstress, as burying time capsules for yourself. Not 15-week time capsules like in grade school, or 15-decade ones for the local library -- just 10-15-minute ones buried for opening 10-15 hours later.

Give it a try!

:) MIM

The Dummy said...

How about trying to move some of your appointments up by 30 minutes? In your head, of course. If you need to be there at 4:30 officially, how about trying to get yourself to go by 4:00?

Stephen said...

Hi Liz--

Off of DD's comment: I have, for years, set all the clocks in my universe 10 minutes fast. sounds stupid, right?

no, it doesn't fool me into thinking that the time is really 10 minutes ahead--i automatically do a mental recalibration every time i check the time. but i think it does the equivalent of setting alarms as has been suggested above, and gets me moving toward the door while i still have a fighting chance of being punctual.

on another note: i think there is in tardiness an element of disrespect for those whom one keeps waiting (as much as i hate to admit it in myself). i don't believe it's necessarily the motivating factor, but it's in the mix somewhere. i prefer to tell myself that i'm late because i'm overachieving, trying to get too much done in too little time, so there's not enough time to do it all, so i continually find myself squeezing one in more activity when i should be out the door.

On yet another note: a respected screenwriting instructor (initials EWT) has pointed out that characters who show up late (keeping another character waiting around) hold the power in the relationship, and often that power changes hands as the scene plays out. hmm.

P.S. i think this is my first post on your site. have been reading only a little while.

P.P.S. i think i sat behind you at the Brick screening, but wasn't sure it was you--and had to rush out the minute the credits started rolling. thought Brick was a great ride, loved all the Noir quotes--the vice-principal office scene was strongly reminiscent of one in The Maltese Falcon where Bogart dresses down the DA for hassling him.

Lynne said...

wow...the idea that the late person is the one in control.....interesting....

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is always 10 minutes late can always be 10 minutes early. It is a concsious choice...try it!

Bill Cunningham said...

I find that all of my lateness stems from several things:

1. Scheduling or lack thereof.
2. Prioritizing properly.
3. Overcommited
4. Unreasonable expectations of when a project can be done or when I can get to a meeting on time.
5. Touching base.

Now how I manage it:

1. Buy a schedule book that you have to hand write (which reinforces the schedule).

2. Complete projects - don't move from one thing to the next leaving something unfinished. Don't go and reward yourself for leaving something unfinished - i.e. "I didn't write anything this week, so I'm going to go out and (insert compensating behaviour here). If I do procrastinate, I TRY to make it somewhat productive or creative.

3. Say, "No". You don't have to be involved in everything. You don't have to go to every screening. You don't have to support every one of your friends projects all the time. You don't have to do things you don't want to do, but somehow feel obligated to do.

4. Schedule things then add 1/3 more time to the schedule so that you can finish one item early, relax and reflect on how you're going to tackle the next task. Oh, and make sure you break those tasks down into small manageable units.

5. Touch base with people, don't engage them in long conversations and rambles. Someone sends you an email click 'reply' and just say you'll respond later. Then, read your email at the end of the day and respond to those that need more detail and thought. Someone calls - let the machine get it. Then, return the call later. When you do - keep a clock in front of you and time the call. Then think about it - How much time did you waste in that call? Chit-chat and the like? I like the phone too - I like email better.

Trust me, people won't feel neglected and you won't be obligated to respond to emails /calls that sap your time and energy.

And don't be afraid to announce to yourself or to others that you have to leave by a certain time to get somewhere. It really cuts through the crap and gets the conversation/motivation going in the direction it needs to.

Hope this helps.

Kid Sis said...

This is all so incredibly helpful.

As far as pyschological reasons, Bill is the one who's right. It's not disrespect for the person I'm about to meet, it's an inability to cut off the person I'm with whose making me late while they're telling me about their dad dying or their dog raping them, or all the other country-western song appropriate stories people love to tell me.

I have got to stop being everyone's counselor.

And now I must go be late again, this time for scribospheran Kristen Havens.

We will return to this subject again, trust me. You have not heard the last of my lateness.

Kid Sis said...

Okay, the above must sound ridiculous, but I swear it's true. You'll have to all go into the world with me sometime. I get check-out clerks telling me their harrowing life stories.

Somehow, I have "I can save you, or at least be a shoulder" stamped on my forehead, and I really do feel like it's incredibly rude to cut them off.

Kid Sis said...

Stephen, if I had crazy-ass red hair in an updo, you did indeed sit behind me at Brick. How'd you like it?

Okay, and thanks so much for everyone else's comments. I'll try everything at some point over the next month. I really want to have this handled by May 1st.

And I promise, I'll try at some point to not strive for's just I happen to know that being late is a deal-killer for many pros in this town, and after all the work I've done, what a STUPID reason to not get hired for something....

Kid Sis said...


I saw what you thought of Brick- I liked it too. I meant, what did you think of my updo? Get in the way of your screen view?


BTW, I loves the EWT.

Lynne said...

and just to clarify...

my friend who's always late.... I KNOW she respects and loves me, and that her tardiness is not about me, as I am sure your tardiness is not about others.

I think you're onto something when you say it's the person you're with, not the person you're going to meet who has the hold on your time. That makes a lot of sense, and helps me understand my friend Patrice much better.

Rex Ferric said...

I don't know if you can apply this (or if it's even all that relevant), but in my cubicle-based job, any time-completion estimate I'm asked for consists of the amount of time I *think* it's going to take times a factor of 2.2 (which has assumed the name of "the Scotty factor" amongst my cubicle mates) -- since I am blessed with superiors who have 'Scotty factors' of their own, this means I am rarely put against the wall on any project (YMMV, of course, of course...)

American Knight said...

And now that I think about it, me thinks I saw you at Brick as well. Would've said hello but wasn't too sure if it was you, or maybe I was just intimidated by the near celeb like status.


Fun Joel said...

Okay, first of all, I must say that I am TOTALLY jealous that you saw Brick already. I can't wait! :-)

Now, beyond that, I must respectfully disagree with the lovely Christina. As wonderful a person as you are, it is still disrespectful to people with whom you make plans to consistently be late. It is essentially saying your time is more important than theirs, and it is an attitude that I'll never accept about LA.

I live in LA without a f***in' car, and I still am almost always on time. My attitude is that I would rather go somewhere (early if need be) and wait for someone for a few minutes, than make someone wait for me. I aim to get to places on time, and am willing to get there early.

So basically, what I'm getting at is that one strategy you can use is to shift your way of thinking about things. You are (as far as I can tell) a lovely person, and I know that you are not trying to change who you are, but rather trying to improve one aspect of yourself that you feel is lacking. If it weren't 9:55 AM, I'd raise a glass to toast to your success! ;-)