How to not turn into the running-late-monster

There are two things that make me sooooo much less of a nice human. One is having to repeat myself. MUCH, much worse though is when I’m running late.

It is not a pretty picture. It is behaviour unbecoming. I’m not proud of how it changes me as a mom, as a wife, even as a driver on the road.

Knowing that it’s like the Mr. Hyde juice to my Dr. Jekyll, the Hulk serum to my Bruce Banner, I’ve made some modifications in our lives so I can stay away from the dark side.

These modifications might seem too simplistic to even repeat. And yet, they definitely took me until I was in my 30s to really put them into decisive, consistent action. And I’m still working on it if the mad dash from today’s birthday-party-deposit-making to preschool-playdate-pickup is any indication. So what are they?



First thing’s first. When it comes to time, we start with what time we want to be there. Are you like military folk with the 15-minutes-early-is-on-time shenanigans? Or is on time on time? Or is fashionably late the cool vibe you’re going for? Whatever it is, what time is the goal?

As an example, I’ll use our church time because that’s one that takes a freaking symphony orchestra to happen. We want to be there 15 minutes early so we can 1) check the kids in 2) have a small cup of coffee and 3) use the potty before service. That’s 10:45. Take note here, this is a special step. When we think about how we want this to go, we know that few extra minutes is so we can enjoy a few moments of fellowship and such. It’s purposeful and in alignment with our other goals.

Next, what all needs to be counted down are all the things it takes to get there. What things do we need to do in order to leave? How long do they take?

For us, that means 1) get dressed 2) do hair 3) straighten up a bit 4) get jackets / get in car. For five people. So, we’d say that takes about 15 minutes right? And it take ten minutes to get to church. That would mean we need to be getting ready for our 11am service at 10:15. Theoretically.

Add 50%


We’re going to add to our no-stress strategies here. In one of my hall-of-fame-favorite books, Essentialist, Greg McKeown explains that we consistently underestimate the amount of time it takes us to do pretty much everything. It doesn’t take five minutes to get kids to bed, it doesn’t take one hour to go shopping and it doesn’t take ten minutes to get there! Not only do we consistently underestimate the amount of time it takes us to do stuff, we typically underestimate by half! McKeown suggests adding a 50 percent buffer to keep things more realistic. So, if you think it’ll take 10 minutes, plan for 15. If you think it’ll take 30, plan for 45. This simple change of adding margin can reduce a lot of stress in your life.

So, in our church example, I’m estimating that it will take us 15 minutes to get read and 10 minutes to drive to church. I’ll add 50% of that 25 minutes, round it off to 40 minutes. In this way, I know that 5 minutes after 10, everyone needs to be getting ready. This will give us plenty of stress free, yell free, worry free, goal-getting time to get ready.

This is one of the most profound tools for time management we can use. You have to be willing to trust the math and not your own opinion. But it will create a sense of spare time in your life that will feel very luxurious.

Work first, play last.


This last step my mama taught me. Again, it’s common sense but maybe not so common.

The idea here is to do everything you need to do to be ready to go first and then sit down and relax or do whatever else it is you were going to do. Doing so alleviates the last minute hustle that finds us frantically searching for shoes and car keys.

In our church example, we’d all get 100% ready after breakfast and then folks could lounge around playing, reading, devicing until it was time to go. You more the leisure time to after everything is done. It’s important to note that you don’t lose it, you’re just swapping it. What you do lose is that stress. Walking out the door is so much smoother.

Where this is most apparent is for my kiddos getting ready for school. They are to get 100% ready to go with shoes and lunches and hair and teeth and etc. Then if they have any leftover time they can play or whatever until it’s time to walk out the door.

The same goes for me the adult. In the mornings before I leave for work or whatever the day calls for, I get all the dishes done, the house straightened up and whatever I need packed. Then, I usually have time for a few quiet moments with a cup of coffee. And it’s amazing! I’m not stressed over what still needs to be done. Time is on my side. It’s such a better way to do things!

These three strategies help me not turn into Dr. Evil Mom. I hope they help you too. Remember:

    • Countdown

    • 50%

    • Work first, play last


Let me know if this helps you!

If you need help with this, with getting your schedule and routine in order, I’m here for you. Schedule a session with me now!


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