Punctuality Issues - Changes clouding understanding of time

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MathGirl
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28 Jun 2013, 10:47 pm

I keep having trouble keeping jobs because of difficulties with making it to work on time. The thing is, once I get used to going to work at a particular time, then I can be very good at being punctual and being there right on time. Being early scares me because I don't want to face unstructured time - I just want to come, pick up my client (or whatever I need to do), and start working.

The real problems come when I move. I actually got fired from a job when I was younger because moving threw me off so much that I took the transit to work in the wrong direction and only realized it 20 minutes later. Recently, I have moved again and am having trouble making it to work on time again. Somehow I need an incredibly long period of time to adjust to a new environment before I can actually process the concept of "travel time" again. Same thing happens with new jobs - it takes me a few trips to adjust to the new travel time before I can actually begin to grasp it. I don't know how to explain this to my employers/co-workers, though. I keep getting into trouble over this and have no idea how to stop it/prevent it from happening. One person is being particularly harsh on me about this (it feels as though he's ready to kill me even if I'm ~10 minutes late), which is why I am VERY concerned and have been struggling with this issue as long as I can remember. This man beat me down so much that I started thinking about cutting again and had a huge meltdown in front of my employer (who is a very understanding woman). However, he was completely unwilling to listen to everything I said and refused to acknowledge the fact that I was, in fact, able to make it to work on time before I moved.

Does anyone have any insight into how to prevent this problem? I find that unexpected changes in general make me so disoriented that I lose track of everything else and get into trouble. Having an overwhelming schedule makes things even more difficult, of course.


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28 Jun 2013, 11:16 pm

I can understand how you feel.

In high school, (in the 1980's), I broke the 110 year attendance record of the school for being late the most often. At the end of grade 12 they awarded me the tardy award- A broken alarm clock.

I still have a problem with being on time. On some jobs it didn't matter, in others where it was an 'issue' for other people, those jobs didn't last.

I find in my current job that they seem to be patient if I work unpaid overtime almost every day. It overcompensates for being late everyday.

I've tried to stop, setting the alarm clock earlier, skipping breakfast, ect, ect, there's always something that occurs that makes me late. I get up early, shave, brush my teeth, get dressed and get out the door, 15 minutes early ,and then there's a 1/2 hour unexpected train delay driving to work- what did I do to deserve this? I've pretty much washed my hands of trying to be 'on time'. As soon as I get to work I jump right into it, the moment I arrive is no different from any other point in the day- others notice and appreciate this, even if they dislike my tardiness.

In some aspect, one boss remarked to me being late is like theft from the company. That I'm 'stealing' time from the company, and where 'time is money', there is no difference. Now that I'm now conscious of this concern, but I still come in late everyday. As I said before, the best I can do is overcompensate for the lateness by working unpaid overtime.


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MathGirl
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29 Jun 2013, 4:18 pm

I can relate to this - I also had trouble with lateness when I was in school. In middle school, when my mental health was probably at its worst, I skipped about a month of school and had around 10-15 latenesses for every single class (the classes rotated). When I was younger, I was told by someone that it's better to be absent than to be late, so I would often skip class if I knew I was running late. Last summer, I was consistently late for my job by about 15 minutes. I got lucky because no one seemed to mind; I also worked extra at the end of the day to make up for that time.

There was one year of high school (my last year) where I only had two lates over all of my classes and over the entire year. I think it has to do with the fact that: 1) I had a pretty consistent weekly routine (studying during the weekdays, work on Wednesday nights, going out Saturday night, and Toastmasters Sunday afternoon) and 2) I was very much used to my school and home environment by that time.


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thewhitrbbit
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29 Jun 2013, 6:09 pm

I would suggest the following.

Travel to work as you normally would a few times before you begin your job. Time the trip using a stop watch. Add 10-15 minutes (add time in case you miss a bus/train)

Now minus that from when you need to be there, and you will have your time. Perfect science.



MathGirl
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29 Jun 2013, 6:50 pm

thewhitrbbit wrote:
I would suggest the following.

Travel to work as you normally would a few times before you begin your job. Time the trip using a stop watch. Add 10-15 minutes (add time in case you miss a bus/train)

Now minus that from when you need to be there, and you will have your time. Perfect science.
This should work. It sounds simple. In fact, that's what I did before my first week of starting high school, but then everything broke down again. I started getting caught up in homework, getting to bed late, getting up late, and then being late for school. Same thing happens with jobs, except that I don't have to wake up early for this one. However, that is even worse, because I have about an hour and I use it to study, only to have difficulty leaving my schoolwork be and estimating how long it would take me to get ready (I get caught up in practically everything I do!). Somehow, I know the time I have to leave, but can't actually GET myself to leave at that time. There's some strange mental block going on. :?


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30 Jun 2013, 8:13 am

MathGirl wrote:
That's what I did before my first week of starting high school, but then everything broke down again. I started getting caught up in homework, getting to bed late, getting up late, and then being late for school. Same thing happens with jobs, except that I don't have to wake up early for this one. However, that is even worse, because I have about an hour and I use it to study, only to have difficulty leaving my schoolwork be and estimating how long it would take me to get ready (I get caught up in practically everything I do!). Somehow, I know the time I have to leave, but can't actually GET myself to leave at that time. There's some strange mental block going on. :?
I can relate so much. The arrival of internet-enabled phones and e-readers has made it a little easier for me to be on time, but I still struggle a lot.

People used to suggest I get up earlier, but all that accompished was that I'd end up thinking "oh, I have another twenty minutes until I need to leave ... I'll just take another quick look at that book / online forum / blog / magazine article.", and end up being even later than usual. *sighs*



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01 Jul 2013, 3:00 pm

Middle school - I missed the bus and had to have my mother drive me to school.

High School - I drove myself and was late often. Many a morning did I run through the halls to get to my home base. I got pulled over multiple times for speeding due to being late as well. My chemistry teacher/wrestling coach knew I would be 15 minutes late to class/practice so he was fairly leniant with me.

College- I had a bus that only ran every hour and ten minutes so I would leave my apartment 15 minutes early and catch the bus arriving 15-30 minutes early to my class. I would then sit in the lobby or classroom (depending on if it was empty) and wait.

Work - I have trouble getting up in the morning for work as I work with Indian people and they make it a point to come into the office at least 30 minutes late every day, or at least most of them do. I am still 15 minutes late every day to the office according to the time I say I should get into the office as it's not really a set time.

I should change my time to be there that way I get on time...Just thought of this.

I don't know why I am always late to things. I know it's rude to do but I think I do it because if I have time to go into my own zone it's hard for me to focus so I have to get to my destination and get right into the work or I'll be lost for hours.



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08 Jul 2013, 1:47 pm

I've been good in general about being on time - for me, it can be two very powerful, conflicting forces between my strong desire for punctuality and my hyperfocus on whatever I'm doing when it's coming near time to leave. I've cut it VERY close because of this, and I've often literally had to RUN to make it.


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managertina
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08 Jul 2013, 8:16 pm

For me, I am often on time. It is not much of an issue, as the day for me is floating, so if I start five minutes late, I have to stay five extra minutes. I can't afford being fired, so being on time is important... more so than my special interests. I have no one to back me up if I get fired, and no social services.



ad_astra
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08 Jul 2013, 10:55 pm

Punctuality definitely can be an issue for me, especially if I'm working on a project related to my special interest(s). I used to be absolutely awful about it, but it helped to start setting alarms (phone, clock, and/or computer) to jolt me out of that intense hyperfocused state. When I wore a watch and started slipping up on being punctual, I'd set it half an hour fast. At first I'd forget about it being fast and ended up being on time for things. Later on, even when I knew it was fast, it gave me a way to structure my time. I started thinking about what time I had to physically be somewhere, because there was some part of me that would equate the time I should be somewhere to the time I should leave, for some stupid reason.

But if I had to think about it and backtrack to estimate how much time I really needed, then I'd get a much better idea of when I should start getting ready. For example, I'd remember that I had a class at 11 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That meant I had to be in my seat and have pen and paper (or computer) ready to take notes at 11 am. It would take 10 minutes to go from the dorm room to class, 10 minutes to get dressed and my backpack ready to go IF my clothes and backpack were already prepped and had all necessary items (key, wallet with student ID inside, phone, computer) inside. If they weren't ready, then I'd have to tack on another 5-10 minutes to get them ready and double check to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything. It took 30 minutes to get cleaned up (showered, teeth brushed, hair washed and combed, etc), and 3-4 minutes to get ready for the shower and into the shower. So instead of thinking I can be ready 5-10 minutes before class, I realized I actually needed at least an hour for optimal readiness and punctuality. Changes in my place of residence or routine would definitely throw my time estimates way off, so I'd inevitably be late until I got a better idea of how much time I really needed. I don't know if this idea helps or if anyone's already tried it, but going through that backtracking exercise is an effective "treatment" for my problems with punctuality.

A friend of mine who isn't Aspie, but very likely has dyslexia and ADHD, has to use an analog watch or clock so he can better visualize time. Digital watches don't do anything for him with regard to conceptualizing time.



managertina
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08 Jul 2013, 11:39 pm

Ad_astra, I like your response.

I also find that having an agenda and having it written up where I need to be, how to get there, etc. helps immensely.



MathGirl
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09 Jul 2013, 9:05 pm

managertina wrote:
Ad_astra, I like your response.

I also find that having an agenda and having it written up where I need to be, how to get there, etc. helps immensely.
Yeah, I like his response, too. I've read through the other responses, but it'll take me a while to process them and think how to apply this advice. Thing is, my estimates of the time it takes me to do things tend to be very poor when it comes to smaller time intervals. I'd need someone to spend some time actually timing me doing certain things and then tell me how long it took me to do them. I wonder if I could get my psychologist to do something like this (she's also a life coach and can visit people at their place as long as it's a necessary part of the intervention).

I also can't afford to be late to my job, really, because it's a good job to have as a student since it's a small time commitment. It's also my only source of earned income. I don't get any disability pension or student benefits, either. Most of the money I have now is not earned by me, as being a student is my full-time job. I kind of want to be able to find ways to cope and survive in the society just like anyone else, without getting any disability-specific supports, although I go too far with this sometimes in terms of not taking accommodations in school when I actually need them. I almost got myself in trouble with that a couple of times...


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