A new life hack for punctuality

When I was young and my family took one of our only long distance vacations to Hawaii, my dad coined a term for my mom that stuck on a long-term level, extending into other people’s vocabularies, as well. He (lovingly?) ripped on her as “Pidge.” Whenever it was time to commit to leaving the house, she was like a pigeon, pecking around and quickly flitting from one activity to another. “Let me go look at this piece of corn over here, wait there’s a piece of bread over there, what was that sound? Let me look over there.” Head bopping back and forth, forward and backward, eyes darting around.  

This has been my mom forever. KIDS!!! Get ready to go!!!!!!! We need to leave immediately!!! We’re late!!!!!!!! Kids enter the car with dad, seat belts are fastened. Where’s mom? Most likely throwing another load of laundry in, putting on her mascara, or looking for her purse, and more likely than not, all three at the same time.

Pigeon may have been born in our rental house in Hawaii, but she certainly didn’t die there. Because once a pigeon, always a pigeon, and because what kinds of babies to pigeons have? Baby pigeons.

Hence my own life story as a pigeon, growing up in a world of distracted, struggled multi-tasking, just trying to make it out of the house on time.

The struggle. is. real.

But I’ve discovered a recent hack that has proven to make a world of a difference in my little cluttered world.

I’ve been giving myself an extra half hour.

If I’m making a dinner reservation on a work night, and I think 6:30 sounds reasonable, I make the reservation for 7:00.

If I need to wake up at 8:00 to finish the laundry list of items to do before going out of town, I set my alarm for 7:30.

If I think I can get my act together and meet up with someone for coffee in an hour, I tell them an hour and a half instead.

If Jon asks me what time I’ll realistically be ready to leave for something, I’ll tell him a half hour later than what feels right.

If I have to leave for a wedding ceremony at 2:00, and I’d normally start my hair and makeup at 12:30, I’ll start getting ready at noon instead.

You guys, this has been truly life changing for me. Because for those of us who are human pigeons, our problem is our lack of focus on what priorities are most crucial to accomplish a task (i.e. the task of getting out of the house on time), combined with a sudden desire to do a thousand other things at the same time. And since it’s very difficult to change these traits in a person, why not instead change the timeline in which we’re working? We constantly (albeit subconsciously) underestimate the amount of time it will take us to do something, so we are constantly feeling rushed and frazzled approaching go-time. So, why not “over-estimate” (but really, accurately estimate) the time we need to do something? For some reason, it never worked for me to just consciously try to “start earlier,” but applying the half hour hardline on it has actually worked. It helps me stick to it without playing with any time calculations in my head. This is a really important realization for those of us whose calculations are nearly always inaccurate and unreliable. The half hour is the cushion that we need to stick to a timeline. And notably, since employing this tactic, I’ve still never really been ready early, which is to say that the “extra half hour” I’m allotting myself is really not extra at all—it’s 100% necessary in getting out of the house on time.

And hey—the first step is always admitting you have a problem.

Any other tips or tricks that work for all the other pigeons out there in the world?