Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D.

Enter the Zone: The Time Bandits 
 

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Enter the Zone:  The Time Bandits

 

Is it possible to learn an effective strategy for dealing with people who are chronically late?

 

Yes! There are several different and effective strategies that can be used with people who cannot keep time commitments. But, first you must assess who is the real Time Bandit: you ... someone else ... or both? A Time Bandit is someone who has questionable and even faulty conceptions of time commitments, scheduling and time management. Time Bandits rob themselves and others of the precious and costly commodity of time. If Time is money, then the Time Bandit is a robber of time currency. Are you or someone you know a Time Bandit? NOW let's get on with some possible strategies for dealing with this very sticky problem.

 

1. Simply tell the Time Bandit that the appointment or engagement is taking place at a particular and specific time. Don't leave this up to guesswork or mind reading. Emphasize, Punctuate and Reiterate the appointment time. That might make an impression on the person to mentally rearrange their activities in order to meet the time commitment. This strategy works well with those people that you know and recognize as being chronically late. If you are the Time Bandit, take a moment to emphasize, punctuate and reiterate what time you are due to get up in the morning, go to sleep at night and keep all subsequent time appointments for the day and the week. Keep good records and use several appointment books if you have to. Remember to respect other people's time. Don't take up another person's precious time with your excessive needs to talk. Donít get your attention needs met at the expense of someone else's energy. If you are the subject of a Time Bandit's unconscious demands on your time, don't be afraid to cut short excessive conversations. You have my permission to protect your energies.

 

2. Once your time schedule has been emphasized, punctuated, and reiterated, it is time to adhere to your plans accordingly. Commence your scheduled activities at your prescribed and announced schedule. For example, if you say that you are going to leave at a certain time, make sure that you leave at that time and you do not distort your schedule by catering to the late person's tardiness. These people are notorious for their excuses and justifications for being late. Once you make adjustments by catering to them, you reinforce and reward their negative attention seeking instigations. If expect a Time Bandit to be dependable and reliable, you will set yourself up for failure and disappointment. Adopt a mental stance of independence that keeps you just short of becoming reactive. Your dependence is your responsibility. If you are a Time Bandit, try to put yourself empathically into the feelings of the other person that your slovenly Time behavior is affecting. If they can't count or depend on you, sooner or later they will separate and individuate from you.

 

3. It is important that you do not get upset over the late person's annoying habits. It is usually very easy to get angry and annoyed at this type of behavior. Time Bandits reinforce their own disordered time schedules by the excuses, rationalizations and justifications that they tell themselves. In effect, this is how tardiness becomes a chronic disturbing habit. If you refuse to inadvertently reward tardy behavior, the individual may get the message and decide to be more considerate in the future. Do not plan your activities to depend on the punctuality of a habitual tardy person. Always have an independent strategy that allows you to function separately from the annoying habits of others. Keep to your own responsible Time schedule.

 

4. If you confront a chronically tardy person on their lateness behavior, defensiveness could be the result. This could defeat your efforts to resolve this problem. The tardy person cannot and probably will not want to change the behavior unless he/she becomes aware that habitual lateness is working against his or her welfare. People change their annoying behaviors when the cost becomes too high to maintain it. Once the tardy person understands the losses that are incurred by constant lateness, that person may/will become motivated to change the behavior. Your job is to analyze the problem enough to the point of arriving at a mutually satisfying solution. If the late person cannot ruffle your feathers while you act independently, you stand a better chance of not becoming dependent on the tardy person's actions.

 

5. If a person continuously arrives late for a specified appointment, do not extend the appointment time. End the session at the previously appointed time. Keep to your schedule. Assess the cost of Time Banditry. Many continuously late individuals like to keep you engaged with them beyond a time that is reasonable for you. Determine that you will end all discussions, conversations, get-togethers, and meetings at a time of your choosing. Be polite and firm! By all means, do not make yourself feel guilty for not catering to the disordered time habits of another person. Such individuals possess a haywire clock in their brains. The Time Bandit does not run by appropriate and social consensual considerations of time. If it is possible, deliberately choose to acquire the social skill of being a responsible time gatekeeper. In the past, if you have been a Time violator, make it a priority for you to become sensitive and tuned in to another person's time schedules. If you keep someone up talking to you late into the evening, beyond their bedtime, you are robbing them of necessary sleep time. Many people feel guilty for cutting a conversation short because of the need for sleep or some other vital activity.

 

6. If you are a chronic tardy person, are you willing to acknowledge this problem? Are you willing to make a list of how your behavior affects your life and the lives of others? If you understand the causes of your behavior and the consequences, are you willing to commit yourself to changing your lifestyle to something different than what it is right now? You do understand that chronic and habitual tardiness is an integral and destructive part of your lifestyle. What losses have you incurred due to your habitual tardiness? What would be the positive gains that would come to you if you buckled down and chose to change your lifestyle and enter the zone of healthy punctual behavior?

 

7. Refuse to be a Time Bandit! Right now in your mind confirm and emphasize that you are not going to rob your self or other people of one of their most precious and important commodities... Time! Right now, confirm in your mind that your behavior will convey a friendly and optimistic/considerate approach to respecting your time commitments and the commitments of time of other people. Decide at this moment, that you will put yourself and others in a position of high regard by respecting your own and other people's relationship to time. Confirm for yourself that you are and can become an expert at responsible and superior time management. To manage your time is to manage your life. Mismanagement of your time and other people's time causes chaos, anger, distance and rejection.

 

8. Superior functioning people are capable of entering into the elite echelons of peak performance by being considerate of precious Time currency. Do you want to enter into that realm of rarefied functioning known as the "Elite?" Some people are too ashamed or feel too guilty admitting that they unconsciously desire to be a member of the high-performing elite. Are you one of those people who harbor ancient, archaic feelings of shame and guilt for wanting to perform at an elite level? Remember, you can be the best at whatever you do and at being your very best self. If you fulfill the criteria for being a Time Bandit, you will detract and diminish your capacity for peak, elite performance.

 

9. The psychology of character is that realm of human endeavor that focuses on successful behavior. Elite performers are known by their extraordinary technical, social and emotional skills. Are you an elite performer who can be depended upon to "Be there?" Are you reliable, dependable, well-trained, emotionally, intellectually and technically proficient? Or are you a "no-show, invisible, latecomer who disappears into the midnight of the unknown?" True champions show up on time, well-prepared, intellectually, emotionally and physically primed to do an outstanding job. Losers do not prepare well, are unreliable, time distorted and physically, mentally and emotionally out of shape. Tune up yourself by acquiring proper skills acquisition, communication proficiency, reputation awareness, integrity consciousness. Acknowledge those areas of your emotional, physical and mental repertoire that are lagging and tune yourself up to peak performance. Character is everything!

 






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Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D MFT w PsychotherapyHELP

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