Are you frequently late for meetings or appointments in spite of your best intentions?
Have you ever waited for someone who never seems to be on time?
Whether you spend time waiting for someone who is always late or you’re the person who can’t be on time, the result is frustration on both sides.
People who can never manage to be on time rarely plan to be late. Most people who are chronically late have difficulty in time management: one could say their clocks are broken.
Children rely on parents and teachers to keep them on time. This scaffolding sometimes extends into the teenage years. As adults, personal management of one’s time is an assumed skill. However, as with organization and prioritization, time management for some individuals remains a struggle, sometimes a lifetime challenge.
Time management is an important skill within the larger domain of executive function skills. Executive functioning represents a set of processes that govern how one manages oneself and one’s resources to achieve a goal. These cognitive, behavioral skills impact on mental control and self-regulation.
Individuals who find it hard to organize themselves often have trouble managing their time. From small things, forgetting keys or a wallet, paying bills on time, to completing a task like finishing a report, these behaviors fall into the larger skill set of executive functioning. For some people, the difficulty of managing one’s time is closely linked to other important skills like prioritization and self regulation.
The person who has a problem with timeliness may often be challenged by predicting the amount of time he or she needs, usually underestimating or failing to anticipate obstacles that will make them late. Lack of focusing and remaining on task can further sabotage the goal of being on time.
To further complicate matters, prioritizing, the ability to evaluate goals or tasks and decide on the order to accomplish these tasks can also make someone misjudge time. The person who gets side-tracked because of poor prioritizing may find it necessary to spend more time finishing a task, underestimate the time he or she needs, and arrive late. If this scenario sounds like a domino effect, in many cases, that’s the way it happens.
Is this a hopeless chain of events?
The “broken clock,” effective time management, can be improved by developing a set of executive function skills that include: organization and planning, prioritization, focus, and self regulation. While these skills are closely linked, fortunately some people have difficulties in some areas, but not all.
Working with a professional who can unravel your problems in executive functioning and develop the necessary skills can lead to better time management and self regulation: fixing the broken clock.
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