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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« How to Be a Better Time Manager With Your "To-Don't" List | 3 Useful Time Tips That Will Give You a Powerful Pause »

Top Time Management Trap to Avoid If You Want to Be More Punctual

Do you occasionally or often run late? Do you rush to get out of the door, are the last person to arrive, and frequently apologize for keeping people waiting? From personal experience and observation of clients, family, and friends, I’ve noticed one common factor that is the top cause for the time management challenge, punctuality. If you’re looking to shift your time dynamic, reduce your daily stress, and feel more in control of your day, keep reading. I have one idea for you that might be the ah-ha you need to make a change.

Have you heard of or experienced OMT, which stands for one more thing?  Very simply, this is the desire and implementation to do just one more thing beyond what should be your stopping point. By doing this extra thing, it puts you behind schedule and often results in being late to your meeting, date, or appointment. This can take many forms. Have you had one of these experiences or know someone that has? It could look like this:


Before I leave, I’m just going to  . . .

  • eat a small snack
  • read one more email
  • return a quick phone call
  • respond to one short email
  • listen to voice messages
  • change my clothes
  • use the bathroom
  • send out a message on social media
  • load the dishwasher
  • make a doctor’s appointment
  • comment on a blog post
  • research “x” on the Internet


There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing any of these activities. As a matter of fact, these are routine activities that we do on most days. However, doing them beyond our stopping point, as in during the time we need to prepare to leave, is not the best moment to engage.

Ideally, you want to build a time cushion around your scheduled meetings and appointments. Consider your travel time, contingency time for the unexpected, and prep time so that you will know when you have to stop what you’re doing to get ready for next.

Setting a timer usually helps me. On occasion, when I ignore the insistent buzzing and continue doing my OMT, it makes me late. However, more often, the ding reminds me to stop what I’m doing, begin the transition activities like teeth brushing or cleaning up the breakfast dishes, and head out of the door.

The desire to do OMT can be intense. Has this happened to you? Does it influence the way you manage your time? What have you noticed? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Join the conversation!





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Reader Comments (14)

Yes! It’s mindfulness at its best to keep focused on your goal to leave the house on time, in leisurely fashion. Thanks for giving this a name!

June 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

OMT was never an issue for me until I got a computer. Now my challenge is to remember that the time I get off the computer is not the time I walk out the door and I have to allow time to put on shoes, coat, etc. and stuff like that!

June 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Ellen- I love how you've connected this concept to mindfulness, as in paying attention to and being aware of your goal. It's a beautiful thing.

June 10, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Janet- It's been so long since I've had a computer that I had not considered OMT as a post-computer phenomenon. But now that you bring that idea forward, many (not all) of the additional things I try to do are related to computer activities. Even if they aren't, it often is pulling myself away from the computer to do that additional thing. I appreciate this new perspective and recognition of how much our computers have altered our lives.

June 10, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I am guilty of OMT! I'm always trying to sneak in one last task before I (fill in the blank). Thankfully, I'm super aware of time and can get out of the door at the appointed hour. However; I would do well to give myself a bit more breathing room and reflection time by not indulging in that OMT. I just love that you gave it a name!

June 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

I usually like to write down what time I have to leave for an appointment to remind me. Writing the time down ingrains in me the last possible moment when I need to leave to arrive at the appointment on time.

June 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

I don't do the OMF often but when I do it messes up my whole day. I try to be on time or early everywhere I go, but of course sometimes traffic and such get in the way, so I always try to leave early.

June 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Schiesl

@Diane- I relate to your statement, "I am super aware of time." I'm like you. But at the same time, those OMT's can get the better of me, even with this time awareness. I like how considered the idea of allowing more breathing/reflecting time by rethinking the urge for doing one more thing. If you feel like sharing, I'd love to hear more as you experiment with that.

June 10, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Sabrina- That's a fascinating technique! I wonder if writing it down functions similarly like when we take handwritten notes during a presentation or educational seminar? When I physically write something out, as opposed to typing it on a keyboard, I assimilate or internalize the information more deeply. I'm going to experiment with writing the time down in addition to using my buzzer and see if that helps me be more consistent with my stopping time. Great suggestion! Thank you.

June 10, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Janet S.- Like you, I tend to arrive on time or early. I don't like to rush or keep others waiting. I was reading recently about the varying perspectives on how much time people need to get to the airport before a flight. Some thrive on the stress of almost missing their flight. I'm the extreme in the other direction and like a nice BIG cushion to arrive before my flight. I don't mind people watching or just relaxing pre-flight, but I can't stand the stress of rushing. And while for the most part, I'm like that with other appointments, on occasion the OMT's get the better of me.

June 10, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Great tips Linda! Yes, doing "One More Thing" is usually what makes someone late. I also find that setting a time cushion and using an alarm on my phone to remind me when it is time to leave helps.

June 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Haworth

Ah, I love that both of us can relate to this temptation! I certainly have tried to squeeze in "One More Thing" many times. I resonate with your idea of the time cushion. A cushion is meant to be soft and pleasant, something that makes us feel more relaxed. The time cushion does just this, doesn't it? It provides us with a soft place in time to absorb whatever may come up, thus leaving us more relaxed throughout the day.

June 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Nancy- Thank you so much. I'm glad you liked this one. Ahhh. Using an alarm from the phone is also a great idea. I do that when I'm away from my desk area but tend to use a different buzzer when I'm in my office. I have to get up physically to turn it off. It's disruptive enough to break my concentration and switch gears.

June 10, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Seana- I see that I'm in good company with you, and others here too. I appreciate how you expanded on the "time cushion" idea of being that soft, absorbent, relaxed place for us to diffuse the stress of rushing — a time cushion for our being. Nice one.

June 10, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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