Think you're only on time because you hurry? Actually it's all that rushing that's making you late.
Does this sound familiar?
"For many years, the only way I knew to get from one place to another was to rush. I was chronically ‘running late.’ In fact I couldn’t conceive of managing time in any other way. I usually would get to an appointment in the nick of time, but never without a rush."
And how about this next observation, does it also ring true for you?
"It’s common to treat each other terribly when we’re 'in a hurry.'"
Both quotes come from a blog post by coach Linda Gabriel on happiness site Tiny Buddha. In-depth, thought-provoking and generous, the piece tells the story of Gabriel’s previous life as a chronically late working mother and is packed with details that many time-crunched business owners will identify with.
The set up and problem may be all too familiar, but Gabriel’s solution is far from expected. In fact, her eventual fix for her crazed schedule was simple but utterly counter-intuitive. She just stopped rushing.
Wait. What? How?
If that’s your reaction, the complete post is worth a read in full, but the essence of Gabriel’s argument is that, "rushing and being late are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other. When we are in rush mode, we believe we have to not be late in order not to rush.The truth is if you stop rushing, you’re far less likely to be late."
If you’re skeptical, Gabriel offers up her own life as an example and testifies that as soon as she vowed to stop hurrying everywhere, “much to my astonishment, I started to be on time. All the time. If I ran into traffic and arrived late, I just relaxed into it. More often than not the timing was perfect anyway.”
But if you find this too perfect to be believed, perhaps the best bet, she suggests, is simply to try it for yourself. What’s the worst that can happen after all?
For those hard-charging types who are about as likely to embrace this zen approach as they are to grow flippers and take to the sea, there is more practical advice available which involves handicapping your time estimates and investing in some more clocks. But perhaps don’t dismiss the wisdom of simply letting go of your stress and accepting whatever time you're actually going to arrive quite so quickly It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but it has strong backing from psychologists, doctors and thousands of years of spiritual tradition.
JESSICA STILLMAN is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist. @EntryLevelRebel