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          Always Late? Procrastinate?

          July 11, 2005

          Some people are never on time, while others are constantly putting things off. Dr. Phil offers the following advice.

          What is your payoff?
          Ask yourself why you are late and/or why you put things off. What is your payoff for the behavior? You wouldn’t continue unless you were getting some reward for it. Be encouraged that this behavior can change overnight. Know that you are being tardy or procrastinating because you can, and there is some sort of payoff.

          Examine your mental process.
          If you know that it takes 45 minutes to get ready and arrive at a destination, ask yourself why you would spend 30 minutes doing something else and then try to get ready and get to your destination in 15 minutes. How do you justify the behavior? You’re not late at 11:00. If you have to be somewhere at 11:00 and it takes 30 minutes to get there, you’re late at 10:30 if you’re still at home.

          Get real about your tardiness.
          If you are always late, yet you tell yourself and others that you try to be on time, get real. You can’t always be late unless you work at it. You would be on time just by accident occasionally!

          Stop using your behavior to control situations.
          Understand that procrastination or being late is a way of manipulating and controlling a situation at the expense of others. When everything is about you because everyone has to wait on you, you are unfairly controlling the situation while assuming that others should and will wait on you. It's an arrogant behavior.

          Make priorities.
          When running late, don't think that you're so important to what you are doing that you can't move on to the next thing. If talking to your neighbor is making you late for work, realize they aren't going to curl up and die if you say, "Excuse me, I have to go to work."

          Add negative consequences to your behavior.
          When there aren't enough negative consequences to the behavior, you continue it. To change this behavior, cost yourself something of value every time you are late and/or procrastinate. This will discourage you from continuing the behavior. The penalty needs to be something that is disturbing to you. For example, if taking a daily shower is very important to you, you can decide that you won't allow yourself to take one when you are late and/or procrastinate. Or, don't allow yourself to brush your hair or put on makeup the next time you go to work if you're not on time.

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