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One More Thing-ism

Check the clock. 15 minutes before the next meeting. Not enough time to start something big, but too much time to just check email.

What to do, what to do?

Knock out a few little things you don't want to do anyway just to get them out of the way. Great plan!

Thing one done, easily. 14 minutes.

Thing two done, 12 minutes.

Thing three. Well, isn't this interesting? Wonder why this isn't already done. Oh! Because to do this I need to do 4 other things Things a) b) c) and d). Well, get on it. There's 11 minutes left.

Thing three a) done. 8 minutes.

Thing three b) Whoa! forgot all about this! This is such a good idea! 4 minutes

Thing three b) 1) Drafting additional to-do list to really get the most out of 3) b). 1 minute

Thing three - UGH! Now I'm late!!

Yes. Now I'm late AND I've added more work through the Awesome Idea sparked in thing three. Instead of just getting it done, there's another whole project to work on. Because, everyone always needs another project.

This is fiction, but not unrealistic. There are folks who really behave this way. Some people might take the 15 minutes and do one thing and then take a short walk. Maybe some people can do 2 or 3 things without spiraling into creating a brand-new full-time job. But then, there are folks who just can't help themselves.

This topic was sparked by a conversation with a client regarding punctuality. I had seen this article years prior, but couldn't quite get my Googler to find it in the moment. As it turns out, most people who are screeching in at the last second or are late aren't doing it out of disrespect or spite or I'm-more-important-than-you-ism (though all of those CAN be true). Most people are behaving this way because of their wiring.

What can be done? As the article indicates, if you're in any kind of relationship with this person, have patience and also talk with them. If you are the person, here are some thoughts:

  1. Set a schedule and stick to it. If you think you have 15 minutes before your next thing, subtract 5 and take it. Take a bio break, a quick walk, a bit of a stretch. Do something that gets your mind out of work.

  2. Prep. If you have something coming up, get your affairs in order 10 minutes early. Remind your brain that you ARE doing something. You're reviewing information, getting your documents ready, and getting your mind set for engaging fully in the discussion.

  3. Understand that people may think you're disrespecting them by not honoring their time. This could have lasting effects on relationships.

In US culture, we put a high value on the idea of measured time; though I'm not sure punctuality is exactly a fully appreciated and observed concept. This means that people will assign character value to someone who is terminally late versus one who is always early or punctual. Frankly, most people believe it is better to be early to appointments, on time to social engagements, and being "fashionably late" is still just late.

What's my disposition? I've got One More Thing-ism. I perpetually think I can do one more thing before I really have to transition to the next thing. I think that I can break the laws of time, space, and the State and get from point A to B faster than Google Maps says. A lot faster. Which means I do One More Thing until the moment I need to leave at the last second of the adjusted time to get to my location. How does it work out? Not great.

What will I do to change my behavior? I can add time to expected commutes to start. For non-commuting meetings (i.e. Zoom), I should connect a minute or two early, keep the camera and mic off, and busy myself for the entire duration of a maximum of 180 seconds. Shouldn't be a big deal. We'll see.

"Let's not punish the punctual." As someone who might be late, I really like this quote. If you're punctual, you deserve to get to work and move on the agenda. If I'm late, I do not deserve a recap of everything I've missed which is essentially watching that part of the movie again for everyone else in the room. I didn't get to my space on time, it is my issue to resolve.

If you're a One More Thing-ist and can't change behavior, consider accepting all of the responsibilities and repercussions of One More Thing-ism. It just might make it easier for others to accept your tardiness, particularly if they're always on time. Just one more thing to think about!

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