why i get late for my appointments
To be clear, it has not ruined my life yet, but mostly because I am lucky. Google says procrastination is “the act of putting off doing something that you should do till another day or time, because you do not want to do it.”
Case in point, I was supposed to start writing this issue of The Windmill (yes, that’s the name of this newsletter, in case you forgot!) a few weeks ago, but I did not. I thought about writing only when my calendar reminded me I must send another issue today.
After I wrote the words above, I started scrolling through Twitter, Gmail, and then Instagram and returned to write these words only after I realized about an hour had passed. That is the level of procrastination we are talking about here. It’s an ongoing struggle that I’m trying to overcome. From the looks of it, it will be an uphill battle, but I’m determined to improve because it matters to me.
For a moment, I took things quite casually until some things started going wrong. Even though I did not miss important deadlines or ruin things beyond repair, it is quite sad when I fail to do what I promised. Frankly, it’s quite shameful. It makes me appear unreliable and leaves a foul taste in my mouth. It’s about time that I turned things around.
Things got so bad at one point — it almost ruined relationships. I know keeping others waiting for me is rude, and sometimes they might not be patient enough to wait for me. No matter how much I try, more often than not, I end up late. I would get ready, then text people to meet up, only to get late to these meetings.
As soon as I send that text telling them that I’m ready, I would start playing with some random pen or the keychain, scroll through various apps, and then realize I’m going to be late And then there is nothing I can do — turns out, time doesn’t wait for anyone.
Similar things happened when it came to getting to class on time. For instance, during Term 4 at IIMA, I had classes that started at 16:05. I would be in my room, doing nothing, and yet almost always reach class a few minutes after 16:05 or right at 16:05. Credit to the Professors in the second year for not making a big fuss about it, and letting me learn things even if I got late to a few appointments.
If you constantly find yourself late for appointments — it is time to start reflecting on a few things and examine the causes. Some appointments are routine — playing badminton, getting coffee with my girlfriend, or going to dinner with friends. I like to think that if I show up a few minutes late to these appointments, they would understand, but that might not always be the case, especially when it comes to work appointments — assignment deadlines, meeting with Professors, or showing up on time for paperwork.
Paperwork — I got late for my residence permit card appointment (the card lets me live and study here legally) in Vienna. I knew some three weeks beforehand about the appointment’s time and place. And yet when the appointment day came, I reached about 15 minutes late. If they had turned me away, it would be solely on me, and I’d have had to face the consequences — rescheduling the appointment and re-doing dreadful paperwork. Fortunately, they did not mind and handed me my card that day. I would say smiling helped to an extent, but that may not always make up for showing up late!
I almost missed flights a few times for no apparent reason. It would make sense if I had other things to take care of before these flights, but I did not. I just chose to start late. Of course, there were times when things were not under my control. I almost missed my flight to Vienna because the check-in took quite some time. Okay, well, you can blame me a little, I suppose — I need not have gone to the lounge right before the flight, but I was hungry. You get the point. I did not take the many externalities into account. In some sense, it’s thrilling, too, but I would have felt something entirely different had I missed that flight.
My sister reminded me to pack her toy hamster today because I might forget to take it home. She told me I always pack on the day of my flight, leaving a few things behind. As much as I wished to counter the points of a teenager, she is right. I hate packing so much, so I postpone it until it strikes me that I'll miss my flight if I don’t start packing. Let’s see if I can finish packing a few days before my next trip. That would be a lifetime achievement — doing something I hate, way before the deadline, for the first time ever in life!
Reflecting on all these instances, two things are clear — I underestimate the time it takes me to do something, and I genuinely hate doing some things (but they must be done anyway). I estimate it will take about 5 minutes to put on my clothes and shoes and head out of my room. In reality, it probably takes me about 8 minutes. That minor difference adds up to becoming something like 15 minutes late eventually. I estimate it’ll take me 3 minutes to get from the subway station to my department building, but it takes me about 8 minutes (yes, I timed it).
I am trying to be better in this aspect — estimating the time it takes me to do things and accounting for a few externalities. Academia forgives in many respects, but “professionals” might not be because there is a financial stake. Or at least that’s how they sell themselves. I am not saying I would intentionally get late for appointments; I am trying.
As soon as I become conscious that I’m scrolling through Instagram or Twitter, I try my best to pick up my Kindle instead and start reading. I am constantly failing at this, but let’s see where I end up a few months later. And I allocate more time than is required for important tasks. Devoting more time than required surely reduces the “free” time, but then I ask myself — “what would I be doing instead?” The honest answer is “nothing much.”
I don’t have a list of ten points to be more productive. I’m constantly struggling with getting to my appointments on time. It might sound very cocky, but once I get to where I need to get to and start working on a task that needs to be completed, I’m confident that I can get it done. Implementing something is not as big a hurdle as starting it.
All that said, there are things and events I would not mind getting late for. Things such as a routine boring talk, a boring class, a group meeting where some members don’t value your contribution, etc., fall under that category. Fortunately, most events and opportunities that come my way are worth attending, so I try my best to get to them on time.
I actually pack my luggage quite well, and I am efficient with it. But, as I said, I hate the process and postpone it until the last moment. As I write this, I am starting to think about which items to pack — mentally make a list, and prepare for the eventuality called packing that I would have to do. Wish me luck, I know I will most likely start packing on the day of my flight, but I am determined to make a change, once and for all!
Leave a comment in case you are going through a similar struggle. Of course, if you have some practical tips, I would greatly appreciate that. Have a great week ahead. Until next time, bye! 👋
You might have heard about ‘Two minute rule’- basically if some task requires 2 minutes or less, do it immediately and don’t delay it.
You can try this.