Choose exercise options which happen in real time, such as classes at the gym, Park Runs on a Saturday morning, or sessions with a personal trainer. If we don’t give ourselves a real external deadline, we will begin the day with the best intentions of going for a walk or run, or finding a moment for Pilates or Yoga, but will end the day having never quite gotten around to it.
As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewingGrace G. Pacie.
In her best-selling book “LATE! A Timebender’s guide to why we are late and how we can change” Grace G. Pacie offers a lifeline to the 20% of the population who struggle with lateness, and the people who live and work with them. A self-confessed ‘Timebender’, Grace tackles a subject long neglected by psychologists, and for the first time reveals the surprising truth about why we are late, what’s happening in our brains, and how we can get ourselves to be on time. Take the quiz or find out more about Timebending on her website https://timebending.co.uk/
In addition to her B.A. MBA and Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Grace has qualified in Myers Briggs, Emotional Freedom Technique, Hypnotherapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. She has been interviewed by the BBC; Australian Broadcasting Corporation; SiriusXM Radio, and has appeared in numerous magazine articles and blogs. Her TED Talk “Inside the Mind of a Timebender” can be seen on YouTube.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/a500f49f925a8b5fa7a9cfb3e7c2cc3a
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
When I studied for my Masters Degree at Cranfield Business School in the UK, Professor Susan Vinnicombe was Professor of HR, and the innovative and inspiring Founder of the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders, set up in 1999, when only 7% of directorships were held by women. She was a great role model for the 10% of women who had won a place on one of the top MBA courses in Europe.
Prof. Vinnicombe arranged for us all to take a personality test called the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. The outcome of this test changed my life because it identified my strengths and weaknesses, and suggested careers which would naturally fit my personality. As a result, I found my ideal job, as a Strategic Marketing Consultant, which exploited my knowledge of European languages, my analytical mind, my appetite for change and my ability to work effectively under pressure. Finding a job which capitalized on my strengths was a powerful recipe for happiness and success.
My interest in Myers Briggs led me to continue my studies and focus on the vexing question of lateness — a subject ignored by psychologists, yet affecting 20% of the global population. As a result of my original research into this issue, I have written a best-selling book: “LATE! A Timebender’s guide to why we are late and how we can change”, which is hailed as ground-breaking, and my concept of “Timebending” is spreading a new understanding of lateness.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
Lateness certainly has a funny side! My poor partner, who has put up with my lateness for many years, now apologizes when we are late for social events, by explaining that it’s because I was working on my book about how not to be late! I can see the irony! In the course of my research I have learned that we can all be on time when it really matters, but sadly we are most likely to be late for our friends and family, even though they are the people who matter to us the most.
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
Never stop questioning the evidence. Draw your own conclusions, and if this goes against what everyone else believes, don’t assume that you must be mistaken. Instead, see where this knowledge takes you.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I have only found one book which has attempted to explain chronic lateness, which I came across when I was struggling to cure my own bad habit. Called “Never be Late Again” by Diana Delonzor, it was a huge inspiration to me — but not for the reason you might think. It totally FAILED to deliver on the promise of its title! This convinced me that more research was needed, in order to truly understand the problem. Telling late people to leave home earlier is as unhelpful as telling an overweight person they need to eat less — it just isn’t that easy. The book inspired me to uncover the true reasons for lateness and revolutionized my theories about how to be on time.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
Samuel Johnson understood Timebending when he wrote “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” It’s true that when we have a real, external deadline, with consequences, we can be on time. On the other hand, actress Elizabeth Taylor, famous for her lateness, had the last laugh by arranging for her casket to arrive 15 minutes late, proving that it IS possible to be late for one’s own funeral!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I am excited to be working on the follow-up book for a new audience who are desperate for help — the people who live with someone who is always late. The publication of ”LATE! A Timebender’s guide to why we are late and how we can change” unleashed a tidal wave of frustration, anger and despair from all the partners who are being driven demented by being on the receiving end of this behavior. This huge source of relationship conflict has been ignored for too long. Partners tend to suffer in silence, because complaining achieves little, but the good news is that that there are ways in which they CAN improve their situation. I can’t wait to help them by explaining the patterns of thinking which result in lateness, and show them how to use this knowledge to their advantage.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?
Recognizing that we all work in our own unique way is the first step to a fulfilling and successful career. Another best business practice may not work for you — as you will recognize if you have ever taken a personality test and compared your results with others. My goal is to help people with a lateness habit to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and appreciate the ways in which they differ from the norm.
If we follow the rule laid down by influential Time Management guru Stephen Covey in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, we should begin our day by addressing our most important and urgent tasks. Yet Stephen Covey failed to recognize that 20% of the population achieve their greatest effectiveness in a totally different way. Timebenders function at their best when they are close to a deadline and are easily distracted if they are not under time pressure. The counter-intuitive rule which works for Timebenders seems crazy to the rest of the world — always have an untidy desk. Litter your desk with all the tedious tasks you have been putting off, because once you should be doing something else, they will suddenly seem far more interesting than your main task. This way you will use your whole day productively and will carry out your important and urgent tasks quickly and effectively once the deadline is looming. Attempt to start them earlier and all you will do is dither. The habit of keeping those tiresome tasks on your desk means that, if you are going to waste time, you will still be accomplishing something useful.
How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
My lateness habit is something that I have berated myself for all my life, but now I have taken the time to understand why I am late, I can recognize a positive side, which has contributed to my success. People who tend to be late fall within a specific personality type and have other characteristics in common. Unlike punctual people who perceive time as linear and are unable to vary the speed at which they work, Timebenders can speed up when time is short. This gives us unique value within an organization. Timebenders like myself will happily fit in extra work before a tight deadline, and don’t mind being interrupted, so are flexible. We will drop what they are doing if someone needs our help, so we are responsive; and we don’t get rattled if our plans get changed, so we are adaptable.
Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?
Censuring and judging ourselves for our bad habits can be very counter-productive. Accepting ourselves for who we are, and working with rather than against the flow of our innate personality, is the secret of happiness and success — both at work and at leisure. Timebenders are not rule-followers, needing to explore alternative options and new ideas if they are to achieve personal growth. We do not respond well to instructions and tend to follow our own path. This is why understanding the subconscious behaviors which make us late is the most effective way for Timebenders to overcome our lateness habit.
Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each. Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
Here are the three good habits for Timebenders which lead to Wellness:
- Choose exercise options which happen in real time, such as classes at the gym, Park Runs on a Saturday morning, or sessions with a personal trainer. If we don’t give ourselves a real external deadline, we will begin the day with the best intentions of going for a walk or run, or finding a moment for Pilates or Yoga, but will end the day having never quite gotten around to it.
- “Sitting is the new smoking” This is a real health danger for Timebenders. Once we sit down at our desks — especially if we work from home — we can stay there for hours. We tend to get deeply absorbed in what we are doing and are not good at reaching closure. Make sure you move around or even just stand up at least once an hour.
- Avoid living and working in isolation. Timebenders need other people in their lives if they are to achieve a healthy balance — we aren’t good at creating our own structure. Eating regular meals, getting up and going to bed at a sensible hour, and avoiding spending too much time at a screen are all easier to achieve if we have partners or colleagues to accommodate in our lives.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
- Start early. The day is full of distractions waiting to tempt us, so our best habit is to get straight down to work. If you are working from home, go straight there. Don’t shower, or you’ll find yourself cleaning the bathroom. Don’t get dressed, or you’ll get distracted into doing the laundry. Don’t even have breakfast. Just start. Give yourself a target — “No breakfast until I have done xyz work”. Once you stop, you will find the distractions of the day eat into your productive work time and you will end up working late into the night to complete your assignments.
- Set your deadlines when you’re calm. Timebenders are not good at measuring time, and once the adrenaline is pumping, we can be wildly unrealistic about how long everything takes. If I am running late, I can somehow imagine I can get showered, dressed and ready to leave the house in 20 minutes — until my electric toothbrush starts to slowly measure the 2 minutes I always take to brush my teeth. The trick is to decide well in advance when you need to START getting ready. If you make the mistake of focusing on the time you need to leave home, you are guaranteed to be late.
- Get to work on time. Timebenders have many positive characteristics, but these can be overlooked because of their tendency to be late. Lateness is seen as a very negative trait, and can be associated with lack of reliability and trustworthiness — which is unfair. It is rarely recognized that people who arrive late for work are typically the people who leave late, and on average work longer hours than punctual “timekeepers”. Timebenders should therefore use every trick in the book to get themselves to work on time. Some examples include sharing a lift; meeting others on the train; or factoring in the time to grab a coffee — which can be skipped if time is short.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
- Always ask for a deadline. When Timebenders have a real external deadline, with consequences, we are able to focus very effectively — but take away the deadline and we will struggle to finish any task. Punctual people, on the other hand, usually find a tight deadline disturbs their ability to think clearly. To achieve optimal focus, Timebenders should always ask “When do you need this by?”. If this doesn’t work, then suggest a deadline yourself, because then it becomes a public commitment, which makes it real and external.
- Break a task into mini-deadlines. Unlike most people, Timebenders achieve their best work under the pressure of an imminent deadline. Therefore, the more deadlines we have, the better. As the clock approaches zero, we will find ourselves wishing we could continue, because our minds will be stimulated by the adrenaline to come up with new ideas and creative solutions at the last minute. One of the most famous speeches of all time is a great example of this — Martin Luther King added the words “I have a dream” just as he was standing up to give his address.
- Don’t start ahead of time. Timebenders always need a deadline to complete their work, so sitting down to a task ahead of time just means that we will get distracted, or keep revising our work. It doesn’t mean that we will finish early. Allocating extra time is counter-productive and inefficient. Many outstandingly original people including Lewis Carroll, Aaron Sorkin, Helen Fielding, Jennifer Saunders and Spike Milligan are all deadline chasers. Could it be that the last minute is when they instinctively know they achieve their best work?
As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?
Timebenders achieve a state of flow more frequently than most, because we have a different perception of time. We can get deeply absorbed in what we are doing and lose track of the clock. Flow is a familiar state for us. However, it also brings challenges. Once in the Flow, we are reluctant to bring our work to a close, and often fail to leave enough time to prepare for our next appointment.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Timebenders Anonymous — a 12 Step Program which will help people who are not in denial of their lateness habit to support each other in their journey to improving their timeliness
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Tim Urban, writer of hugely successful blog called WaitButWhy, wrote one of the most popular TED Talks of all time, on the subject of procrastination. His insights were profound and helped many people to a greater understanding of a compulsive habit which haunted their lives. He also skirted around the question of lateness. I long to discuss my insights with him.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Find more ideas, links and a quiz on my websitewww.timebending.co.uk
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.