Mitchell wakes up exactly 2 hours before he has to resume for school, but somehow he still manages to get to school late! He has tried to come up with reasons why this is so, and thinks he needs to get up earlier. So, he starts preparations 2½ hours before he has to show up at school, but still finds himself “running late” and hurriedly trying not to be late!

Obviously, there’s something wrong with his time-management skills. Let’s see how he may helped as we consider one step at a time.


Julie Morgenstern is the author of Time Management from the Inside Out. She believes that chronic lateness generally comes in two forms. There are those for whom lateness is:

  • Technical – These are late by differing amounts of time because they have trouble saying No to people taking up their time. They are also the ones who are especially prone to “gotta do one more thing” syndrome. They are usually optimistic about time, and always feel that they can squeeze in one more task, because they are often unclear about how much time different tasks require.
  • Emotional – These are chronically late, but always by the same amount of time. These are quite good at time management and would usually always show up exactly 5 or 10 minutes late, even though they are not doing it consciously. These ones tend to be uncomfortable with waiting, and being late ensures that they wont have to.

Mitchell falls into the first group, because he confesses to always feeling like he could do“just one more”, “just an additional little thing” with the time left.

But the best time managers are those who are very conscious of how long things take. They are realistic with time, not optimistic, and that is what helps them to be very good at time management.


1. The WADE Principle

It follows thus:

  • Write down your to-dos for a day in one reliable place.
  • Add up the time everything will require, after estimating how long you need for each individual item.
  • Decide and list in order of importance what you will actually do, if you have realized there isn’t enough time to get everything done.
  • Execute – Put your plan into action without procrastinating or wanting to do it perfectly

These steps are useful for both types of late people; but for the chronic “technical” ones, it helps you to develop your time-estimating skills, reduce interruptions on your time, and learn to say No to extra commitments.

To become better at time estimation, create a list with two columns: one for your estimate of how long you think each task will require, the other to note how long they actually took.  For example:

Sweeping and cleaning: 15 minutes

Brushing and Bathing: 15 minutes

Getting yourself ready: 10 minutes

Eating breakfast: 15 minutes

Transport (if you have to travel by car or bus) + traffic = 30 minutes (depending on distance)

Ask yourself: Are there certain types of tasks you find harder to judge than others? Are there some that went much more quickly than you thought they would? Doing this for a month or so will help you improve your accurate assessment of time.

Include also the time for interruptions into your schedule, paying special attention to “hidden” needs like transport and preparation time.

2. Develop the Pleasure of Being Early

If you are the emotional type of latecomer, it’s important that you first address their anxiety about waiting and doing nothing.

  1.  For three days, force yourself to arrive early to commitments.
  2. If you do arrive early, soothe yourself with some highly absorbing and pleasant task like reading a good book, playing a game, or catching up on something you wanted to do.

This tactic can override the feeling that waiting is a waste of time by offering a pleasing incentive to be early. If those few extra minutes feel like a reward, or they allow you to get something done, anxiety about waiting may all but disappear.

But for Mitchell, he wants to be early, but just never seem to. So, the WADE principle is just perfect for him!