How to start defeating chronic lateness and procrastination

I am chronically late.

It’s an illness, really. Heck, I’m publishing this blog post late.

Growing up, my Dad would threaten to go places without me. Now, my husband threatens the same thing. Are they mean? Absolutely not! It’s my boundary issue.

My husband and I have been reading Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. This exact scenario is in the book. The wife is always running late and it drove her husband crazy, so one day he put his foot down. He made a boundary and that boundary was actually leaving without her if she wasn’t ready to leave at the time they agreed upon. He left and she was upset. After a few more experiences like this, the wife learns that she needs to be on time to meet her husband’s boundary. 

On the surface, this boundary may seem mean. On the contrary! The boundary sets a limit for both parties involved, the husband and wife. They both have their own boundaries and they both can choose to respect the other’s boundaries or pay the consequences.

Boundaries are like fences with a gate: They are there to keep the good in and the bad out.

This situation made me start questioning why I’m late in the first place. I mean, I rarely was late to class in school, but for other things, I’m always running late:

  • Work
  • Events
  • Meet-ups
  • Church services

In an effort to meet my husband’s boundary and work on not being late for anything, I decided to find the root cause for my lateness. During my research, I came across this article by Psychology Today. Then it hit me.

I’m chronically late because I don’t value being early or on time.

Does this make me a bad person? No. It’s definitely annoying to everyone who is chronically early, but it doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about my husband’s feelings, work, church, or birthday parties. It means I don’t value the importance of being early.

I decided to narrow in on why I don’t like to be early:

  • I hate small talk with strangers because it makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable.
  • I hate wasting time waiting for other people to show up when I could be doing other, more productive things.

The problem with changing my late behavior is that I do not suffer any consequences for being late. If I start work late, I just work later. If we’re late to church, I still enjoy most of worship and am able to listen to the sermon. If I’m late to lunch with a friend, I can still place my order, eat, and chat.

Now my chronic lateness and I are at a crossroads. I want to learn to value other people’s boundaries so I do not have to suffer consequences. This is why there needs to be consequences. I doubt our church will start closing the doors to the sanctuary early, but my husband can leave me at home if I’m not ready to leave on time and my friends can leave lunch on their schedule, limiting our time together.

Consequences are key to boundaries.

What do boundaries and consequences have to do with the creative life? Procrastination.

You see, my chronic lateness and associated boundary issues are connected to my propensity for procrastination. If I don’t write or edit this week, I see no consequences, so I continue to procrastinate.

I believe there is an element of fear connected to procrastination, too. If I never write and edit my work, I’ll never be able to submit it to an agent and be rejected, but that’s another topic for another day.

So, for my chronic lateness and procrastination issues, I am creating value and boundaries for myself. To do this, I’ve created a game plan with my husband when it comes to leaving for events. I told him to leave me at home if I’m not ready by our agreed upon time. As for the procrastination, I’ve joined an small accountability group with two other writers. While there is leeway in the group because life happens, we all agree to move forward. If I continue to procrastinate and don’t contribute to the group, I could lose their support – not because they’re mean, but because they have boundaries, such as time limits. Then I could see my dreams drift into nothingness. In both situations, I know the boundaries and am able to choose to value them or receive the consequences.

Procrastination has consequences. Is putting off that project worth it in the long run?

When it comes to chronic lateness and procrastination, we need to see the value in being on time and doing projects now. We need to create boundaries for ourselves. Those around us also need to create boundaries and we need to find value in their boundaries or suffer the consequences. Once we suffer consequences, we will learn how to value the boundaries of others.

Woo! This was a lot of details in one blog post. Boundaries, values, and procrastination, oh my! But I know I’m not alone in this. Please share your struggles and tips in the comments.



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