Have you ever been driven to distraction by other people's time habits?

Your frustration is probably because they process time in a different way from you. The behavioural science Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) uses the terms In-time and Through-time to explain this.

An In-time person is great at being present in the moment, very focused on what's under his or her nose, but struggles to manage their long-range time habits. Their ability to mentally detach and forward plan is minimal; they often find it very difficult to predict how long an action will take.

Therefore they're often late for deadlines, actions or events. Their strength is in being fully focused on what's in hand: their weakness is they're often late for things and chaos runs rampant behind them.


Through-time people, on the other hand, are more objective about time; able to detach, to see themselves outside of the events they're involved in. They seem to be effortlessly punctual, able to plan ahead, to estimate how long they'll need for any activity. Their strength - their ability to plan and anticipate. Their weakness - they're sometimes perceived as aloof and uncaring, because of their ability to detach.

Because opposites attract, intuitively seeking the qualities they lack, couples are frequently a mix of styles. As you can imagine, this often causes huge frustration - until they learn to understand and compensate for each other! The least In-time member of the partnership almost always takes responsibility for the family's time-keeping. They're not trying to irritate each other with their time habits, but often do.

Through-timers, I'm sorry, you can't single-handedly change your In-time mates. They have to do it for themselves. It might be useful to show them this article though. You, on the other hand, may need to learn more about relaxing, going with the flow when it doesn't really matter what time you get somewhere, and being more focused on the 'now'.

In-timers, here are some tips for you. The good news is - we can modify behaviour to make life easier for ourselves.

1. Whenever you catch yourself saying, 'I'll just do this one thing more' - DON'T. Intuitively you know it will make you late, but you've become used to blocking that thought.

2. Start with the end in mind. Consider what time you want to be somewhere and then count back the minutes, including drive time, park time, can't-find-the-keys time, toilet, coffee and last-minute interruption time. Then add on an extra fifteen minutes as a safety net. You'll be shocked at how much earlier you have to leave! I really encourage you - just try it a few times. You'll be delighted with the stress-free feeling you experience at the other end. What you're doing at a cellular level is creating an earlier trigger to tell you it's time to get going.

3. You're probably reading this and saying, 'But I'll waste time by getting there too early!' It's unlikely, but just in case, take something to read or work on whilst you wait.

4. When you've had a punctuality 'win', notice your feelings of success and calmness. Hear the congratulations of surprised friends or workmates. See yourself arriving relaxed at your destination. Anchor those feelings and thoughts. The next time you're tempted to last-minute, remember how success felt and act accordingly.


5. Like a reforming alcoholic, don't worry about total change in one hit - it seems too big! Just concentrate on one task at a time, one day at a time. Make a mission of being on time for one thing each day. One day you'll look back in amazement and realise that you're now regularly on time for almost everything.

You might be wondering how I can describe so accurately the feelings and experiences of an In-time person. Very easy - I am one! For years I struggled, but the good news is ... I won!

Every now and then I break out, especially if it's a social occasion and it doesn't really matter what time we get there, but these days it's very rare for me to be late for any business event.

I wish you joy and success as you create the behaviour of your choice - it can be done!

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