Client Scenario: “I need to stop being late.”

Cindy JobsUncategorized

Clients come to ADHD coaching for any number of reasons. Still, one common thread is the challenge of arriving at their destinations on time. Managing transitions to reach where they are supposed to be at the time they are supposed to be there is a separate issue to wrangle.

Stated goal: “I need to stop being late.”

Drill down: Arriving late is a broad challenge and may affect all areas of our lives. Being late for commitments with our family may give the impression that work, or whatever else, is more important than our relationship with them. Being late for appointments with friends may give the idea that we don’t value them or their time. Being late for work commitments may stand in the way of promotions. Although sometimes the lateness is isolated, possibly only to obligations with friends; generally, I find it is a pervasive challenge.

What was currently standing in the way?: 

  • They don’t have a consistent way to manage transitions. 
  • They underestimate the amount of time a task is going to take, so they take on too much before attempting a transition.
  • They underestimate how long transition time and the travel time will take and don’t build in time the unexpected.
  • They don’t understand the importance of arriving on time.
  • They don’t understand the consequence of arriving late.

What was possible?:

  • Their limiting perception: They will remember to transition from one task to another without a reminder. 
    • Strategy: They could set a visual or audible timer, or multiple timers, around the home/office to remind them that they need to transition to a different task.
  • Their limiting perception: They have time to do “one more thing” before they need to walk out the door.
    • Strategy: Timing regular activities like taking out the garbage, preparing lunches, taking the dog for a walk, etc. will give a baseline for time commitments. Also, they will know how many tasks they can comfortably accomplish before they need to make a transition.
  • Their limiting perception: They believed it only took five minutes to get out the door, and Waze says it takes 15 minutes to drive to their destination. Hence, they need to start leaving 20 minutes before their appointment.
    • Strategy: 
      • Time how long it takes to get out the door (brushing teeth, picking the right jacket, finding keys, letting the dog out for one last potty break, etc.).
      • Time how long it takes to make the transition from the house to the street (Waze estimates from the road, not your back door), and how long it takes once they are parked to get to their destination is critical. 
      • Not timing to-and-from the car is the most-frequently ignored part of the equation.
  • Their limiting perception: They believe that 10 minutes on either side of the appointment time is “on time.”
    • Strategy: Determine what acceptable is for an appointment. Is it okay to walk into a 300-person lecture 10 minutes after the start time? Maybe. Is it okay to walk into a business meeting 10 minutes late? Probably not. Is it okay to arrive 10 minutes late to pick up their child from soccer practice? Definitely not. 
  • Their limiting perception: They believe no one really cares if they are “only” 10 minutes late.
    • Strategy: Think about the consequence of having arrived late on previous occasions. Did the professor notice or call you out for being late? Probably not. Did your boss give you the stink-eye for arriving late, frazzled, and looking unprepared? Probably. Was your child in tears, again, because they were the last person to be picked up? Definitely. Now, think about how great it would be if instead of 10 minutes late, they were 10 minutes early. What impression would that make, and how would they feel?

What was their goal?: “I need to stop being late.” 

As generally happens, creating the right strategies around intentions is essential. But also connecting how what they are currently doing to how it is affecting their relationships and reputations was the real learning.



Cindy Jobs

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