Punctual to a fault

Punctuality.   “..being able to complete a required task or fulfill an obligation before or at a previously designated time.”

Punctuality is made up of  two parts, it’s about being somewhere physically on time and also about completing a task within a certain time frame.

Being somewhere on time
Let me talk about the first part, being somewhere on time. I need to be somewhere on time or I get agitated or anxious. I cannot concentrate well on anything else. If someone says to be somewhere at 6pm, I will be there. In fact I will most likely be there ahead of time to allow for traffic, delays of some unknown factoring. I will loiter until it is the right time.

If I am waiting for a train or a plane I get there in plenty of time. I have an abundance of time, so much so that I try to be efficient with my time and end up going to the lavatory at the last minute instead of earlier when I had plenty of time. Followed by rushing. This drives my husband insane. I don’t mean to do it, but it occasionally happens even now.

Why am I so punctual about being somewhere or meeting someone? Who knows. But it may be because I have missed flights in the past. Due to severe traffic jams, getting someone else to drive me to the airport, not reading the ticket properly for the times etc… It is also because I spent time in Japan and the transportation system there is anally punctual. Down to the second. If you are a minute late, your train will be gone. If you are on the Yamanote line in Tokyo that isn’t a problem as there will be another one arriving in a few minutes but if you have a Shinkansen/Bullet Train ticket then that is a problem. I loved the preciseness of the trains and buses. I felt comfortable with it all. Where I grew up there was one train line through the town and if you were travelling to another town and the train left at 8:30am, you knew that if you arrived five minutes late your train would still be on the platform. There was plenty of time to say goodbye to everyone. There was nothing precise it was about. The train stopped for morning tea and afternoon tea on the platform. It was a nice slow pace. Those days are long gone but it was what I was familiar with. It was quite the shock going to Japan. Time was different. I learnt to use a watch properly. Before that I used it for “about” time. It was about five o’clock, or it was about half past seven. It was never 5:03pm. Now that I am no longer living in Japan my old ways are creeping back in and some days I don’t wear a watch. Time doesn’t stand still but I get along fine.

I take a book, a sketchbook, a charged kindle or phone. I have plenty to do for just in case. I treat myself like a child and make sure I have enough distractions to make the time go fast at the airport or anywhere I need to wait. I end up a lot of the time sitting and thinking or people watching. Endless entertainment. My husband asks me if I want a book. It’s his way of nicely asking if I have something to do as I must be distracting him. Do I look anxious when I wait? I think not. But I think he can sense it.

Recently we were early for a flight. We checked in online and went straight to the gate. the gate according to the smart phone details. They turned out to be wrong! The arrivals/departure board is the most up to date and it to be trusted. We learnt that the hard way. We had to walk a long way back to the correct gate. The travelators were all going in the wrong direction. We still made it in time but it was annoying just the same.

When someone says to you, “Oh, don’t worry, you have plenty of time!” Worry. My plenty and your plenty will be different. Some people like to glide into the airport just a few minutes before the check in counter closes. They don’t allow for mishaps. They glide through life like that. I cannot live like that. It would put me on edge and I would just feel exhausted the whole time.

Completing a task within a certain time frame
Punctuality about completing a task within a certain time frame or deadlines for me is the part that needs improvement. I think I have plenty of time and so I put it off. This is the time that anxiety enters the mind. The anxiety stays in the back of the mind until the task has been performed or completed. I put it off until the last moment then I rush it. This makes me angry at myself and I know I could have done a better job.  Once the anxiety goes there is a feeling of relief. I can sit on something, not completing it and I know that I could be finishing it and I could be reducing the anxiety. I know I am doing it to myself but I cannot move forward. This is something I need to work on.  There is plenty of room for improvement. I can look at the situation and I can see what I am doing to prolong the agony yet I do nothing to fix the problem. This part I don’t understand. Why would I do this to myself? Self sabotage. There is no other word for it.


Flow chart example ©aspergersontoast

I think I am organised but after writing this part of punctuality in regards to meeting deadlines I’m not so sure. I may be organised but I don’t have much sense of priorities. I have done the colour coding of tasks but I find that I like making the lists, and the colour attaching side but the actual doing of the tasks is less fun. I have written out tasks to do on a certain day of the week, and I have alarms and reminders but I begin to get bogged down with the noise and reminders that when I don’t complete a task regardless of the priority I feel disappointed with myself. I have switched off these reminders and I have taken the tasks into the indefinite “rest area”. The way I have been doing it hasn’t worked. Or put it this way, I can do it for a week but then it all starts to fall apart. My methods so far are wrong for me. When I further look at priorities it is perhaps the sequencing that I have trouble with. It was suggested to me that I need to improve my algorithms. Algorithms are the step by step procedure to completing a task.  An algorithm written as a flowchart give a visual image of the task and makes it easier to see how a task can be completed.
I don’t plan on making a New Year’s Resolution to improve my algorithms or flowcharts. They put unnecessary pressure on people. I have a will to improve, it just won’t be happening on January 1st that’s all.

Analysing this closer, as this is what Asperger tendencies encourage, I can see that the flow charts, being a visual aid, is good for me, the visual thinker. I just need to remember to place the flow chart where I can see it, rather than filing it away, where it will never be seen again.

It was pointed out to me that deadlines come in two shades, the short term or immediate deadlines or the long term deadlines. I am writing here about the long term deadlines. The short term ones I can deal with just fine. That being said, maybe I should try to treat the long term deadlines like short term ones and move the date closer and get it done.

What do you use to help you organise, help with sequences and priorities in your life?

Cyndi Lauper – Time after time

7 thoughts on “Punctual to a fault

  1. Good morning! When I was young and in school or working, I liked to be on time, but I think it had to do with anticipation. If I was looking forward to the class or a project, I couldn’t wait to start. If not – I just wanted to get it over with. I would be on time regardless, so I suppose it didn’t matter except for my nervousness – which occurred in either case. I get irritated when others are late and I have to wait – doctors seem to enjoy this ‘built in’ discourteous social practice. It’s not imaginary – try being late and see what happens!

    I responded well in my job to short deadlines – quick turnover, begin something new. Long range planning? Forget it. Now that I’m old and have no schedule, I rely on habit. I think that’s healthy. Many artists and writers seem use daily rituals to organize their time and energy. .

    • Yes, short deadlines are fine, it’s the long range ones I have trouble with. I didn’t separate this distinction. And I also get annoyed when others are late.

      Anticipation is both fun and tiring at the same time. Sometimes the thing we are waiting for isn’t nearly as fun as the anticipation. Then there is the feeling of “what next”.

      Yes, habit is a good thing and I am trying to create good habits. Often they get thrown but I just move on and do better the next day.

  2. Gee, I could use help. =) The TO-DOs are just all in this crazy head. I wonder if your punctuality is a form a assurance to yourself that you are reliable, that you’ll make good on your end of things. You sure seem it! =)

    • Punctuality is being reliable. It is a first impression too. Be it for an interview or a date or a doctor’s appointment. We are judged by this ability to be on time. What we do during the interview or date is another story but getting there is the first step. That I can do well. 🙂
      To do lists! I still make them. I need to write them down. I seem to like paper a lot. I have little reminder notes that don’t like being thrown away. The idea hasn’t been followed up so it sits in limbo, waiting for action.

  3. I get particularly worried when going on long journeys that I will be late for my train and miss it. This leads me to frequently arrive at least an hour (often earlier) than I need to be at the station and I end up twiddling my thumbs. Kevin

    • I call it covering all bases, for what if scenarios. Forgetting something time factored in, traffic jam factored in, getting lost factored, toilet time factored in. Isn’t it just basic preparation. Contingency planning. I would rather twiddle my thumbs at the train station or the airport rather than panicking on the way with just in time mentality. My brain doesn’t work that way either. What’s an hour with a good book? A good time. 🙂 V

      • I agree with you. One of the reasons I arrive early is due to needing help to board the train due to being blind. I am fine at my local station (where I take a train from home to work every day, from the same platform). However in London Euston which is a vast station I need assistence, hence arriving early. I always worry in case something goes wrong and the customer service people forget about me, (thankfully this has only happened once)! Kevin

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