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Got sent home from work for being 4 minutes late one too many times.
August 12, 2014 6:17 AM   Subscribe

I work in a large, highly corporate sales company where they're hardcore on discipline, time management, organization. I work hard whilst at work and I am learning and growing, but I have such a hard time coming into work on time. We start 7:45 in the morning sharp--by this time we junior salespeople need to be at our account managers' desks, prepared for the day, read emails and self-organized. I. suck. at. this.

I work in a large, highly corporate sales company where they're hardcore on discipline, time management, organization. I work hard whilst at work and I am learning and growing, but I have such a hard time coming into work on time. We start 7:45 in the morning sharp--by this time we junior salespeople need to be at our account managers' desks, prepared for the day, read emails and self-organized.

I have a very hard time with this. I've never been good at time management. Coming in everyday by 7:45 means I've taken a cab multiple times, though I moved to live so close to work. It takes me 15 minutes on the subway, if that. I have a hard time prying myself out of bed on time.

While at work, I'm anxious to do well, am actively engaged in what I do, and generally put forth a lot of effort. My account manager likes me. However, he's had to speak to me several (at least 8-10 times) about my being a few minutes late to work. And I've just been here a few months!

Part of me wants to justify myself, that 7:45 sharp is overly early, that I generally work til 6:30 or later anyway and what difference does 4 minutes make? (the latest I've been is 7:49) But I know this is just one of the many struggles I face with time management, discipline and overall self achievement. I want to fix it.

But for now--my boss told me he is disappointed we keep having this conversation, and that it seems to be happening everyday now. Many people at work witnessed this embarrassing convo, as he shares an office with other account managers. He sent me home, said I should take the day to think about what's going on. I feel like utter shit.

How do you pull your act together? I want to be the girl wakes up, takes her time getting ready, eats breakfast on time, walks to work leisurely and does well at her job rather than the girl scrambling to throw clothes on, hail a cab and apologize awkwardly to my boss.

Not sure why chaos works so well for me, but what should I do here to pacify my boss, pull my act together? I moved out on my own a few months ago and am struggling with my new schedule and responsibilities. I feel incredibly guilty and am slipping into very bad habits. I just can't afford to get fired--I need this job.
posted by rhythm_queen to Work & Money (77 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is your work near a coffee place that you like? I bribe myself with food- if I get out of the house early enough then I can get a treat before work.
Aim to be there for 7:20 and then use the extra time for something that you enjoy. Angry Birds or flirting with random men on Tinder are fine.
posted by myselfasme at 6:23 AM on August 12 [4 favorites]


I struggle with this, and two things have worked for me. The first is to do a fair amount of my morning stuff the night before. Every night before I go to bed, I pack my lunch and lay out my clothes. When I was drinking coffee, I set up the coffee maker and put it on a timer so I had fresh coffee when I woke up. I also plan out my breakfasts over the weekend, so I don't have to think about it. The other thing I do is establish benchmark times that I have to meet in order to be at work on time. So I have to be out of bed at a certain time, and I have to stop futzing on the internet at a certain time, and I have to take a shower at a certain time, and I have to leave at a certain time. I have clocks everywhere so I can pay attention to my deadlines.

For the long term, though, this sounds like a pretty stressful place to work, and I wonder if it's a good fit for you. I would probably not want to work at a place where I got in big trouble for being 3 minutes late, and I'm wondering if eventually you might want to look for a different job.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:25 AM on August 12 [22 favorites]


Not sure why chaos works so well for me

It's clearly not working -- getting sent home is well down the path towards no longer working there.

The only answer is to set your alarm earlier and be at work on time (probably be there early for a while to look like a reformed eager beaver, and then you can just be on time). How to stop self-sabatoging is maybe more of a therapist question, but either way your basic choices are you wake up earlier or you get fired.

Are you still staying up late and partying every night like a student? That will make it a lot harder to get up in the morning. Your mornings are now on the corporate schedule, so your evenings probably should be as well.

Lastly, there are a lot of jobs out there that are less rigid in the mornings, but even with those there's a limit to how late you can be. This probably isn't going to go away as an issue even if you change jobs.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:25 AM on August 12 [21 favorites]


Well, you clearly can't have your leisurely morning at this job. So, look for other work. But, while doing that, you need to look at your sleep habits. You need to time your routines. How long does it take you to walk from your house to the subway? Get up early and time everything for a week, that will give you a sense of how long it takes. Can you eat breakfast at your desk? On the weekend, make a list of simple breakfasts you can take with you - overnight oatmeal, yogurt and granola, etc.. Why are you staying at work until 6:30? Are you getting overtime pay? If you can knock that off, do it. You're probably not leaving yourself enough time in the evening to decompress, prep for your workday tomorrow, eat a balanced dinner and get to bed on time in order to have a full night's sleep.

You aren't going to convince your boss to change the company policy to a later start time. You need to start being at the ready by 7:30 am if you want to show you've changed. However, working 11-hour days is not sustainable. Working even a single 11-hour day can thow your whole system out of wack. Figure out how to not do that.
posted by amanda at 6:29 AM on August 12 [12 favorites]


Yeah, stop telling yourself that the chaos is working for you. That is contradicted by the evidence.

Set multiple alarms - for getting out of bed, for showering, dressing, etc. And I mean set alarms for the start and end of those activities - like, one alarm is for getting in the shower, and another for getting out.

Leave home fifteen minutes earlier than you need to. At this point, getting to work early (not just on time) needs to be your goal. All of this really just boils down to habit, and you have to actively work and cultivate it.
posted by rtha at 6:31 AM on August 12 [8 favorites]


I knew someone like you. Almost everyday he showed up to work 4 minutes late, and at our company late meant 4 minutes, we had a window of up to 3 minutes where it wasn't considered late. As a co-worker and friend, I constantly got on him about it. He did get suspended a few times.

Just do what you have to do to leave a few minutes early.
posted by signondiego at 6:35 AM on August 12


It sounds like you have a lot more issues with your job and work/life balance than just tardiness, but questions specifically about getting to work on time have been asked before.

A lot of people favorited this answer as helpful, both in terms of establishing the right mindset and techniques to achieve it.
posted by hhc5 at 6:36 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


You don't need to be at work at 7:45, you need to be at work at 7:30. The key to being on time is being early.

I totally agree that 7:45 sharp is overly early, but who cares what I think? If you want to continue to work at this place what matters is what your boss and coworkers think.
posted by mskyle at 6:38 AM on August 12 [61 favorites]


I had a similar problem to you -- I was routinely 5-10 minutes late for work at a job where this was not tolerated, and I got an official warning.

At this job I had a 4 AM - 12 PM shift, for which I had set my alarm to wake me at 3:05 AM. Clearly this was not enough time.

So what I did was I started setting my alarm for 2:55 AM. This was a galling change; something about crossing that 3 AM border felt fundamentally inhumane. But the extra ten minutes were obviously necessary, and it solved the problem.

You need to recalibrate your internal sense of urgency. What feels like "enough" time to you clearly isn't enough time. I recommend starting by pushing your entire morning schedule forward 15 minutes. Whatever you do now, do 15 minutes earlier. You need to be having that "Shit, I need to get to work!" feeling at least 15 minutes before you have it now.
posted by Sokka shot first at 6:38 AM on August 12 [24 favorites]


There's no such thing as on time. There's late and early. Be early.
posted by alms at 6:39 AM on August 12 [60 favorites]


I am not a morning person. I have found that realistically I need an hour to an hour and a half to safely get to work on time. I have 2 alarm clocks, set 20 minutes apart. The first one goes to news radio, which I let run till the second one, a buzzer, goes off, which is the signal to get up. I generally make or buy breakfast (something like a bagel or english muffin and tea or coffee) and take it with me and eat it at my desk, to save some time in the morning. The only way I really regularly get to work on time though was to decide that the start time when I would get to work was really 15 minutes before the official start time; i.e. though 7:45 is your start time you should instead be aiming to do everything in your power to get there by 7:30. You need to forget about 7:45 and instead put all your efforts into getting there by 7:30. If indeed the following statement is the way things are, then the only way to achieve this for you (as it would be for me) if you are not a morning person, is to get there by 7:30: We start 7:45 in the morning sharp--by this time we junior salespeople need to be at our account managers' desks, prepared for the day, read emails and self-organized.

You probably should start looking for another job also, aiming for a place that has some kind of flex time.
posted by gudrun at 6:44 AM on August 12 [6 favorites]


I think the core of your issue is that you seem to see the work start time as on the dot AT 7:45. That's not really true. In order to start at 7:45, you need to be at your desk with your stuff down and your coat put away by 7:45. Which means your start time is 7:40 at the latest, even in a Chaos-friendly situation. But rushing in and throwing all your stuff down means you also need 2 minutes to cool down and get your head into the right space. That makes your start time at 7:38. If you like to get coffee or put your lunch away in the fridge in the kitchen, add another 5 minutes (kitchens in the morning are almost always chatty and nothing takes just a minute), so your new start time is 7:33. Add (subtract) another 5 minutes in winter when there's snow, for taking off snowy things and regulating your body temperature to the point where you can think straight - 7:28. THAT's the time you should aim for getting in if you want to keep your own system - it gives you a realistic time to work towards, and a buffer for being late that still gets you in early enough to actually be punctual.

TL:DR If you don't want to change your morning routine, you need to reframe your thinking about the actual start time you're aiming to hit.
posted by Mchelly at 6:52 AM on August 12 [22 favorites]


This may be counterintuitive but I suggest it in case it works: You may find it helpful to get up, not just five minutes earlier so you can beat that window, but 15, 20, 30 minutes earlier. Personally, I just cannot get myself out of bed and immediately throw myself into my routine. My day goes much better and I get to work more easily if I give myself 10-15 extra minutes in the morning to ease into the day, pet the cats, catch up on MeFi, whatever.

Another thing that helps me is not just a single "wake up now" alarm but a series of alarms on my phone - the "wake up now!" alarm, the "your leisurely morning time is done and now you actually do have to start your routine" alarm, the "you need to walk out of the door immediately after shutting off this alarm" alarm. My partner teases me about the number of alarms I have in the morning, but it keeps me moving along my routine.

Ultimately you either need a new job or you need to find a way, whether it's my suggestion or another way, to get up and to work earlier. You're not going to convince your boss that four minutes late is okay - for whatever possibly dumb reason, it's just not okay at your company, so you need to work with one of the other parameters that is movable.
posted by Stacey at 6:52 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Here's my strategy:

1. Multiple alarm clocks that make different annoying noises. The klaxon warns that you absolutely have to leave now, the crickets let you know you no longer have time for email, etc etc

2. Alarm that turns on the goddamn lights. It's a lamp. It's an alarm! It's very bright and won't turn off with a quick arm flail.

3. A morning playlist that never varies, so that as soon as you hear its first upbeat chords you are programmed to get up.


I both hate and love this system.
posted by spunweb at 6:53 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]


First of all, plan to arrive to work 30 minutes early, for now at least. It is absolutely imperative that you not be late from this point forward, at least up until you have another job offer.

Another thing, which was mentioned upthread, is to get as much organized the night before as possible. I also always shower the night before to save time, but that may or may not work for you.

Finally, you need to be realistic about how much time you need to get ready in the morning, and then you should add 30 minutes to that, at least for now. What this means for me is that it takes approximately 30 minutes (and like 6-8 alarms, no exaggeration) for me to physically get out of bed. It takes me 1 hour to 1.5 hours to get ready, depending on whether I'm eating breakfast, packing a lunch, etc. I hate mornings so, so much, and I wish I could be one of those people who can bounce out of bed and be ready to leave the house in 20 minutes, but I'm just not. I also set an alarm that is my "ten minute warning" for when i need to leave, and then a second alarm that is my "get out of the house now" alarm.
posted by litera scripta manet at 6:54 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]


I was a late-night person for most of my life, but I wanted to make a change so I could avoid a bad commute and work for a few hours alone in the mornings (nights never worked because of the hours our clients held, which was always later than East Coast time).

What I did was create activities that happened before work. I got up and went for a walk (then for a run, because suddenly, I became a morning runner, which was weird, but nice) and/or the gym. I visited my local bakery and picked up muffins. I got to the office at 6:30am

It SUCKED for the first few months. I HATED every minute of being awake when it was dark and I was alone and everybody else could sleep in. However, I got my work done, and after a long time forcing myself to do it, I was just that kind of morning person.

If you want to be to work at 7:45, do some things routinely well before that. Depending on your commute, I would suggest getting up at 5:30 or 6, doing something like exercise or shopping or yoga or whatever, and being in the office by 7.
posted by xingcat at 7:00 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]


Part of me wants to justify myself, that 7:45 sharp is overly early, that I generally work til 6:30 or later anyway and what difference does 4 minutes make? (the latest I've been is 7:49) But I know this is just one of the many struggles I face with time management, discipline and overall self achievement. I want to fix it.

I'm glad to see that you've already realised that this justification is a bad idea. For what it's worth, 7:45 seems early to me as well (I start at 9), four minutes doesn't seem like it would make a difference, and working later should make up for starting earlier. On the other hand, what I think really doesn't matter because you don't work for me.

I used to do this same thing. I'd always be just a few minutes late - never really late, but frequently 1 - 15 minutes late. The problem was that if I had to be there by 8, I'd target 8 without any kind of contingency. So the best case was getting there on time, in any non-best-case scenario I'd be a few minutes late.

A lesson I learned early in my career was that if you get somewhere after other people, they're acutely aware of when you get there. If you leave after them, they have no way of knowing whether you left 30 seconds or 3 hours after them.

What helped me was precisely the mindset that's been linked here by a few people - there's no such thing as on time, only early or late.
posted by atrazine at 7:02 AM on August 12 [13 favorites]


Not sure why chaos works so well for me,

Nthing that clearly it doesn't work for you - I'd postulate that you just think it does, because (for whatever reasons) when you're running around in a panic it feels like you're "accomplishing" things in a way that you don't feel when you're doing these same things in a more leisurely fashion. It's like you're addicted to the adrenaline rush of having to get up & ready & off to work in [not enough time], and since you don't get that rush when you have time to spare, you're constantly coming up with ways to give yourself that rush, by sleeping late, or futzing around on the web, or taking long showers, or whatever. (I work with some people like this, and honestly it affects more than their timeliness; they have a tendency to create "fires" just so they can put them out, and turn simple tasks into complicated ones, and molehills into mountains, and they seemingly have a hard time feeling like they're actually "working" unless everything is an emergency. It can be very annoying and frustrating, not least because it also affects my ability to do my job.)

Nthing also that, big picture, this is quite possibly something that you might look into getting some professional help for, like therapy or medication.

what should I do here to pacify my boss,

Be on time. No, be early. That's really all you can do.

Whether this particular company's culture is a good fit for you is a question for the long run. For now, you know darn well that trying to convince your boss to make an exception for you is just not going to work. If you really don't want to get fired, it's your responsibility to do whatever you have to do to make yourself show up at the office at 7:30 am.


One trick that's worked for me when I've gotta get up extra early is to set an alarm in a place where I have to get out of bed to turn it off. The "snooze" button doesn't do much when I'm already standing up and walking across the bedroom to get to the alarm to stop it making that horrible racket.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:07 AM on August 12 [8 favorites]


Seconding ArbitraryAndCapricious - laying everything possible out the night before has been a lifesaver for me since primary school.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:09 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


Also, I set alarms at 15-minute intervals, staring an hour before I actually have to get up, and shower the night before instead of the morning of. I keep a really easy-care hairstyle, even though it means frequent trims.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:13 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Where are you losing time? If you're over sleeping, put your alarm across the room so you have to get up to turn it off. If it's while showering, get a waterproof clock in your shower. (They come with little suction cups). If it's unexpected delays in the subway, start expecting them.

Go to bed earlier. Wake up earlier. You know what to do, as the mechanics of getting there earlier aren't the issue. The issue is that you say stuff like "chaos works for me". That's not chaos, that's laziness, and it worked for you when you lived with your parents and had no consequences. You need to really think about what would happen if you lost your job to motiviate you.

I just can't afford to get fired--I need this job.

You also need to start looking for another job. There's already a strong possibility you will get fired soon- sending someone home is a strong indicator. You also want to consider a job with a more reasonable start time, and less tense culture.
posted by spaltavian at 7:14 AM on August 12 [21 favorites]


Just thought of one other thing - is there a coworker living near you that you could make a habit of walking in with?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:14 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]


Depending on your boss (OK, this GREATLY depends on your boss, because some of them just don't want to hear, but if you happen to have a boss who's interested in listening) it might also help to let him/her know what steps you're taking to correct the problem.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:15 AM on August 12


Also, I still feel like this and others of your questions are really suggestive of ADHD. It might help to get tested because knowing how and why your brain works makes you more effective at managing your time and working more creatively/ effectively... Especially bc it'll re situate this from being a laziness issue (which is a character issue that really doesn't seem to apply here) to a structural/cognitive issue where there's oodles of research that can help you problem solve.

Like, nobody is mad Pinkie Pie has ADHD on MLP -- and if you notice, she's hella smart, lives on her own, has a job with responsibilities, etc etc.
posted by spunweb at 7:21 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]


You mention working really hard and staying past 6:30pm; I believe this is part of the problem. Of course those things are important to you and you clearly have a strong work ethic but working hard and staying late are not as important as being early to work. (N'thing that the unspoken expectation is not that you start on time but that you start early). Of course you will have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning is you are exhausted by the previous day and have had no time to decompress. So cut back on your work and leave as early as you can and use that extra energy to show up early AND to look for a more humane job. Is this the job paying $40,000 in Toronto? That is basically poverty level wages for Toronto's high costs - you can find another job that pays the same and provides a better work/life balance or a job that has the same expectations that at least pays you better. I had a job that was similar in having ridiculous expectations while not paying very much and quitting that job was the best thing ever for me - my anxiety immediately dropped and I stopped feeling like I was a completely fuck up as I excelled in my next, not petty about being one minute late, job. Go find a better job, rather than tie yourself up in knots and develop bad habits and high anxiety for the rest of your working life.
posted by saucysault at 7:22 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]


There's a good book called Never Be Late Again that helps you identify *why* you're late so you can take steps to correct it.
posted by radioamy at 7:22 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]


The good news is that if you keep this up for much longer, you won't have to be at work by 7:45 anymore. Being on time is something that is really easy to get right, more especially where your subway commute is a maximum of 15 minutes.

The way to pull yourself together is simple - you realize that if you are not on time, your boss will deprive you of the ability to show up late permanently. That he has already spoken to you 8-10 times tells me that he's giving you some charity in this regard.

If the maximum you have been late is four minutes, set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier than you have been.

You should also start looking for a new job because (1) you are on the bubble and (2) I do not think this office is a good fit for you.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:22 AM on August 12 [6 favorites]


Remember this: You are obviously immensely talented, smart, dedicated, etc., and thus, you are SO VERY LUCKY that all that stands between you and success in this job is fixing this one, single, STUPIDLY EASY thing.

The fact that it's so dumb is why you've been resisting making it important -- but the fact that it's so dumb and yet you're not fixing it is why your boss is at the point of having to let you go. Guess how bad it makes him look as a manager to his peers, and his bosses, that he can't make one of his otherwise incredibly promising employees realize this? Think of how much energy you and he both would have available to do your jobs well, and to focus on other meaningful areas of career growth for you, if you could just do this one, single, stupidly easy thing.

So. Start by getting in bed, lights out, no phone, at 9:00 for the rest of the week, with your clothes set out, coffee and lunch made, etc., and follow many of the other great morning tips above. Yep, 9:00, I'm not kidding. DVR your favorite shows, tell your friends/family so they don't expect you to text or whatever after that.

When it works, perfectly, for the rest of the week, next week you can make that 9:10... then 9:20, then 9:30, etc.. Ideally you'll reach 10:00 or so if you can get your routine super-tight, but just focus on one foot ahead of the other for now. If you're waking up at 5:00, or at 5:10, so be it. Loll in bed, do some reading, or watch a show, surf the Internet, or do some light cleaning to fill the "extra" time if you need to. -- and remember there will be fewer people to fight on the subway, so why not just get to work at 6:45 and play games on your phone or whatever from the blissful comfort of your desk?

This is the MOST IMPORTANT THING IN YOUR LIFE for the next few months. Treat it like boot camp. Treat it like chemo. Whatever metaphor works for you. Feel honestly proud every single time your boss smiles at you at 7:30am across the empty cubes.

You may slip up, you may not even ultimately succeed. But you KNOW you can get this right tomorrow. And then tomorrow, tell yourself that you KNOW you can get it right the next day. We all know you can too, and we're rooting for you.
posted by argonauta at 7:24 AM on August 12 [8 favorites]


OK, so this is not at all about being late or early. This is a form of passive-agression that makes the situation all about you. Once you come to terms with that the other pieces will fall into place. Your job is not all about you, how you work, how you perform, how late you stay, etc. It is all about your boss's expectations. You are expected to be at work on time, prepared for the day's labor. If it has come to a point where he/she has to control this then it is no longer about the job, it is about you. So how do we resolve this? Be on time. As others have mentioned reset your personal clock to a 7:30 start, and you will put an end to all your troubles.
posted by Gungho at 7:30 AM on August 12 [6 favorites]


Have you tried one of the alarm clocks that simulate the rising sun with lights?

But also start looking for a different job.
posted by Candleman at 7:31 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I struggled with this too, until I started aiming to be half an hour early. So for you, that means aiming to be out the door by 7:00am, and also being realistic about how long it takes you to get ready in the morning. How long does it typically take you to get ready in the morning, when you're rushing? Add an extra half hour to that time. So if you need an hour to get ready, set your alarm(s) for 5:30am. I find that having so much extra time calms me down enough to get things done efficiently.

One other thing--once you get on this schedule, you need to go to bed when you start to feel tired. You'll fall back into the habit of getting up at the last minute if you become too sleep deprived.
posted by rhythm and booze at 7:32 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Purge from your heart and mind any thoughts of how you were "only 4 minutes late" or "never later than 7:49". Apparently in this job you must be on time and so therefore there is no "only x amount of wrong". You're wrong. I know that sounds harsh, but it's clearly the expectation of this job.

Sadly, there is no magic trick to solving this. The steps are probably:

- Stop thinking of this as something you can fudge. Apparently, you will be fired if you keep doing this.
- Make your lunch or breakfast and lunch and set out clothes in the evening.
- Go to bed at a reasonable hour every night. Lights out. No phone or computer or TV. Take a melatonin or whatever you need to do.
- Wake up at a reasonable hour to two alarm clocks or one alarm buried in a drawer across the room or whatever you have to do to get out of bed.
- Go to work on time.

That's it, unfortunately. You can aid yourself with rewards. Or ask a friend to hold you accountable for getting your light off by 10 or whatever, but ultimately you just have to stop fucking around and do this.

Do this over and over again until it is your ingrained habit.
posted by latkes at 7:35 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]


Normally I think you shouldn't be overly verbal in keeping your boss updated on these type of improvements, but you could be in serious trouble - the number of times this has happened combined with being sent home all adds up to nothing good. You have to let your boss know you are serious about it, that you are taking steps so you are not late, and then you must follow through. You cannot be late again. Seriously. Even if you hit the snooze that morning, even if you have to skip breakfast that day.

Also, some jobs just require you to be there early. My most recent job required me to be there at 7:30. You signed up for that. And to be honest, you should be looking for a new job regardless of whether you can get there on time because you've caused enough trouble for your manager at this point, it may only be a matter of time before you're forced out.

I'm not trying to shame you, but you may be closer to the edge than you think.
posted by Aranquis at 7:39 AM on August 12 [9 favorites]


Decide that your start time is actually 7:30am and plan your morning routine around being there at that time instead of at 7:45am.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:47 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I'm a late-bird. It's the worst. Well, I was a late-bird. Someone finally told me gently how rude it was, and I fixed it by:

- Setting all my clocks 7 minutes fast
- Scheduling everything in my calendar a half hour early

That's it. That's all it took to make me, a chronic late-bird, on time for everything. Now when I express joy at being on time, people look at me funny and say: "You're never late!"
posted by sockermom at 8:02 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]


Seriously if you can get there a max of four minutes late then you should just aim to get there at 0730 instead of 0745 and then you will be at least eleven minutes early instead of at most four minutes late. Mornings suck, yeah yeah, but guess what, as long as you work for someone else you need to respect the schedule they set.

It is quite honestly as simple as getting up earlier and leaving earlier so you arrive earlier. If there's something you haven't mentioned or I missed, like you sleep through three alarm clocks or something, then sorry and you might need extraordinary measures but you still need to get up earlier and get your shit together earlier and leave earlier.

pacify my boss

Your boss doesn't want to hear anything from you. Your boss wants to see you respect the schedule that you agreed to work. I have a guy that is forever fucking it up and I can't fire him because union. He is constantly apologizing and I even think he means it, but he never changes the results. Nobody cares how someone feels about their continued fuckups, they only want the fuckups to end. Apologies and promises to stop fucking up are meaningless in the face of continued fuckups.

I'd look for another job because if your boss has had to speak to you about this a few times and you still can't be arsed to just get up earlier and leave earlier and arrive earlier, they are probably looking for a good reason to fire you. I know I would be, even if you were a great employee when you deigned to arrive.
posted by Sternmeyer at 8:04 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]


I was in this position- about to fail a class for attendance even though I knew the material and no-call/no-show at work even though I was perfectly capable of doing the work, and NONE OF THE THINGS DESCRIBED ABOVE WORKED FOR ME. EVER. EVER. EVER. Not giving myself a "fake" start time, bribing myself with food, timing myself, setting multiple alarms. I had three fucking alarm clocks.

The thing that has worked for me is hiring a nice lady to supervise my morning routine. She comes to my house, wakes me up, brings me a drink and a snack, and then says, like, "Okay, time to get dressed. Do you want to brush your hair? Did you take your meds?" And the end of her job is to walk out the door with me at the time I need to leave to be on time plus a 30 minute buffer. I use the buffer to study, you would probably use it to read email, etc.

Yeah, I feel lazy and I wish that I was different and it's an extravagance, but I wanted to keep my job and stay in school. It works for me, and it makes the rest of my life so much easier. It might work for you and let you keep your job. Which is a nice thing to have.

Memail me if you would like a copy of my CL ad and how much it costs and how I set everything up.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 8:06 AM on August 12 [25 favorites]


You don't start work at 7:45 is the issue. You start work at 7:20 so by 7:45 your ready to take phone calls and you have your agenda. They basically lied to you about your start time. Just be there earily and if you're a few minutes late it won't matter.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:16 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]


If you want to have a leisurely time getting ready in the morning, there is nothing for it but to go to bed earlier and get up earlier. There are lots of good suggestions above about how to achieve this.

If you just want to make it to work on time to pacify your boss, then pare down your morning routine to absolute bare essentials. Have whatever you need packed the night before. Clothes laid out. Shower the night before. Get up, brush hair, wash face, change, grab bag and go. Minimal makeup if you wear makeup, and only what you can't apply on the subway (I know, tacky, but desperate times call for desperate measures). You can probably do this in 15 minutes. Which means you can sleep till 7, or close to it, scramble for 15 minutes and get to work before 7:45. Eat on the go or at the first break you get during the day. The money you save on cab fare, you can spend on lunch or on whatever it takes to minimise the time taken in the morning.

Either way, you need to prioritise getting to work on time if you want to keep this job. Even if it means leaving social events early (yes I know it sucks). Even if it means leaving work earlier (yes I know that might have other consequences, but right now this it the thing that you're going to be called on). Even if you have to sleep all weekend to recover from the week. Are you really doing 11 hour days? No wonder you're finding it hard to get up!

FWIW, I am totally not a morning person but I have noticeably more energy in the mornings when I've been exercising, eating right and not drinking. Not saying you haven't been looking after yourself, but if you haven't, it's something else to consider.

Oh yeah, and look for a new job.
posted by pianissimo at 8:26 AM on August 12


Go to bed earlier.
posted by michaelh at 8:43 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


I want to be the girl wakes up, takes her time getting ready, eats breakfast on time, walks to work leisurely and does well at her job rather than the girl scrambling to throw clothes on, hail a cab and apologize awkwardly to my boss.

Then you need to wake up one full hour earlier than you are waking up right now. That's it. That's the whole thing. If you want to be able to do things at your own pace you need to have enough time to do so, not look for tricks to make your own pace faster somehow while changing nothing but 10-15 minutes of your life.
posted by elizardbits at 8:47 AM on August 12 [7 favorites]


I want to address the other side of this: working until 6:30pm or later. If you need to be at your desk, having read emails, etc. by 7:45am your effective start time is probably 7:30am. So as others have said you need to be there by 7:30 or you're already late.

But then what's your actual quitting time? If they're dictating this start time it sounds to me like your end time should be probably no later than 4:30. Are you staying late to finish up things or is everyone else there until that late as well? That's an 11 hour day! It's nuts to do that on a regular basis. So I would also be thinking about this: are you really as productive through the day as you need to be to get out at 4:30 (or whatever that time is?*). If you are and somehow you think that staying late is what's proving to them you're committed.... well, now you know that that's not the case: they care about when you start.

If you can start to leave at an earlier time I think you'll find it easier to come in earlier. You'll have more time in your evenings to get prepared for the early morning, to have some downtime, to do the other responsibilities that come with this adult life. I suspect there's part of your coming in late that comes from dawdling around in the morning trying to recapture the downtime you don't get in the evenings because you're working so late.

*And if it isn't 4:30 then this job is super shit and you need to find another one. Working 11+ hour days is fine for when you're starting a new job or on a push but as a regular workday for a 5-day a week office job? Well, let's just say I hope you're getting paid some big dollars.
posted by marylynn at 8:54 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]


You know, the practical stuff has been covered, but I'm coming in to ask: How interesting is this job to you? Is it boring? Because when I've been stuck in dull jobs, I have (unconsciously, I only figured this out later) created a lot of chaos in other ways, as a way to generate some kind of challenge or excitement. Because, I said to myself (unconsciously): If I'm just a woman who gets up at 6 and calmly drinks a cup of tea and calmly arrives at work on time and calmly sits at a desk all day doing a boring job…what does this say about me? So I had to generate challenges, hysteria, excitement…anything that meant I was not just a dull work-bot.

Just a thought. If this is the case, yes, by all means, solve the on-time problems using the suggestions above. And use your newfound calm headspace to think about what kind of work might be interesting, engaging, and exciting to you, and take steps to work in that kind of job.
posted by Ollie at 8:57 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I have a hard time prying myself out of bed on time.

This is what you need to change. As many other have said, you need to get up earlier. Changing your sleep cycle for work can be hard, but it can-- and in this case, must-- be done.

Your work start time is really 7:30. Shoot for that. If you hit 7:34, that is still late.

He sent me home, said I should take the day to think about what's going on. I feel like utter shit.

Don't get down on yourself. Just get ready to change when you sleep.
posted by RainyJay at 9:01 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone. fyi, I do find the job engaging, interesting and I do think I can perform well in this company...other than this ridiculously stupid problem. As junior salespeople we're getting paid around 40k and there's a pretty good commission structure.

@Marylynn, we actually work 7:30-6:30 regularly, even proudly in this company. It's a hard-core sales environment--if I leave before 6 I'm to let my account manager know.

The hours, the discipline required, the time management skills required... all of these are such stupid challenges for me in this job. I'm so worried--my boss sent me a text saying I should spend the day thinking about what it takes to be a part of a high-performance team, that we're meeting at 7:30 tomorrow. I'm going to be there by 7:15, see what he has to say and then try to get there 7:15 every morning from now. I really have no other choice.

Thanks everyone.
posted by rhythm_queen at 9:01 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


Any company that's going to give a damn about four minutes, unless it involves public transit, isn't a company worth working at in my opinion. Find other work. Seriously. Do it before you get fired. In the mean time, you need to work on not only being at work at 7:45 but being settled in and ready to work at 7:45 -- which probably means getting to the office NLT 7:30.

I'm not a morning person, and I never have been. It takes me 2 hours to get ready in the morning, then an hour and 15 minutes to drive to work. I tell myself that if I didn't have to spend so much time in the morning doing pet chores like taking the dogs out, feeding them, and cleaning the cat litter box, I'd take a lot less time to get ready for work in the morning. However, realistically I don't think it adds all that much time: when I lived alone with no pets it still took me an hour and a half to get ready -- and back then I was relying on public transit, often missed the last morning train, and had to drive to work anyway.

I work at an office with flex time, but realistically, if I'm not here by 8:30 I have to park in East Outer Mongolia, and that makes me feel bad about myself. (On the other side of the clock, when I finally leave work after putting in an 8 hour day, mine is often the only car in the parking lot, which has me thinking "does anyone actually work here?") Even though I seem to keep different hours, no one seems to care as long as I work the proper number of total hours during the pay period, get my work done, and don't miss any important meetings. Jobs like this exist.

The only job in my office that has strictly defined start and end times is the tech support folks, who are contractually required by our customer to be there to answer the phones between 6:00a and 6:00p M-F; those guys have either a strict 6-2 morning shift or a 10-6 afternoon shift. (One of the 6-2 guys lives further from work than I do; I have no idea how he does it!)

Sometimes I work with the 6-2 folks and it's difficult to get some types of work done when those folks aren't here. So I've been aiming to get to work by 8:00 each day. This means I must leave the house NLT 6:45 and must get up NLT 4:45. As you can imagine, this never happens. I consider myself lucky if I'm out of bed by 5:15. The best I've done with getting to work is 8:30 -- and I've been working on it for close to a year!

I'm helped by having a strict morning routine, doing as much as possible the night before, getting to bed NLT 10:00 (this rarely happens, even when I enlist the aid of my wife), and doing my best to stay the heck off the internet in the morning (again, this rarely happens).
posted by tckma at 9:01 AM on August 12 [4 favorites]


It's a hard-core sales environment--if I leave before 6 I'm to let my account manager know.

Do you get overtime? Do you get lunch breaks? Are you hourly or salaried?

This is a hard-core environment: you're going to burn yourself out, if you're not there already.

I work twelve to fourteen hour shifts (night nurse, hi) but I get a guaranteed lunch, am an hourly employee, and only work three shifts a week. I have a hard start time, but the rest takes care of any confusion that could happen.
posted by RainyJay at 9:09 AM on August 12 [7 favorites]


One trick that's worked for me when I've gotta get up extra early is to set an alarm in a place where I have to get out of bed to turn it off. The "snooze" button doesn't do much when I'm already standing up and walking across the bedroom to get to the alarm to stop it making that horrible racket.

This wasn't enough for me. I put the alarm clock far enough away that I had to physically get out of bed to get to it, and would still manage to snooze half a dozen times.

What cured me of snoozing is the "I Can't Wake Up" app (Android, iOS, links are to ad-supported free versions, paid ad-free versions also available). It forces me to complete a number of tasks (highly configurable with several different tasks available as well as varying difficulty) before I can shut off or snooze the alarm: solve a matching-type puzzle, solve some math problems, and best of all for me, scan barcodes of various items throughout my apartment.

By the time I've done all that I'm awake enough to get going and not hit snooze. Also it helps that the snooze length itself is configurable, and the five-minute snooze I've set on the app is decidedly less tempting than the nonconfigurable nine-minute snooze on my old standalone alarm clock, especially since it means I'd have to spend another two or three minutes completing all the tasks a second time after the snooze.

(You don't actually say if repeated snoozing is part of your problem, so if not, disregard.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:09 AM on August 12 [4 favorites]


//I really have no other choice.//

In the short term, that is correct. Suck it up, get to work on time, and figure out how to find a better job as soon as possible.

BTW - hard core sales environment is just a code phrase for abusing the sales team. I am in sales and have been for 20+ years. I've never had a job where 11 hour days every day was the expectation.
posted by COD at 9:11 AM on August 12 [15 favorites]


You're about to be either fired, or given an ultimatum that is designed for you to fail.

That's not the end of the world. You do need to be super disciplined in finding a new job, starting now. Get off MetaFilter and start looking for new jobs.

Your current job (like most sales jobs) is horrible. From the long hours, the extra 30 mins they added onto the start, the awful corporate-speak, right down to the fact that your boss texted you. Jobs like this try to take over your life and the lack of boundaries show it. These are churn and burn jobs for young people. They don't expect people to last, often don't want people to last, and the sports-like allusions to "character", "grit", "teamwork", etc, are smokescreens for exploiting their employees.

This job isn't a good fit for you, and you likely weren't going to last anyway. (It's not a good fit for me either, if someone asked me if I have "what it takes to be a part of a high-performance team", I'd laugh in their face as a gut reaction.) You are not a bad person for not fitting in here. Nonetheless, part of being an adult is doing what you have to do. You are probably going to have a lot of terrible jobs before you hopefully find something you like. The rent must still be paid.

Show up early to your meeting tomorrow. If they fire you, take an hour, then get right to applying for new jobs. If they try any sneaky things to get you to quit so they don't have to fire you, don't take them up on it, as they are trying to get out of unemployment (that is America-centric advice, may be different if you are not living in the US).
posted by spaltavian at 9:12 AM on August 12 [23 favorites]


Yeah, your workplace is toxic and deliberately trying to make you fail (commission, huh, gotten any big cheques made out to you or is that just held out as a promise?) It is textbook sick system. You are only earning barely above minimum wage to have your life taken over by this job that will barely pay the bills (because I bet you aren't saving money in other ways like cooking at home because you are too exhausted, and walking instead of cabbing to save time).
posted by saucysault at 9:37 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]


The only thing that works for me is to NEVER give myself less than 45 minutes to get somewhere.

If you have to be at work by 7:20am or so (which it sounds like you do, at least in order to have settled at your desk, gotten organized/set up your to-do list, read your emails, and said hello to everyone by 7:45am), then I think you probably need to leave the house at 6:30am. YES THAT IS CRAZY EARLY. But if you need the job, you need the job.

To appease your boss, try to come in early enough before he does that you're completely settled and working by the time he walks into the building and past your desk in the morning, and try to leave (immediately) after he does in the evening. As soon as he's out of the building at night, though, you should leave, too. There's no sense in staying long after -- they're not paying you extra and if you get a reputation for staying way late it just makes it seem like you don't have the time management skills to get your duties done during the workday.

I agree with the people above that this company is exploiting the junior associates with these work hours and wages/commission structure. It sounds like they're just trying to get as much work out of you as they can before you wise up and move on. Just make sure you're looking out for yourself.
posted by rue72 at 9:37 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


Yeah, okay so this "high-performance sales team" that works 11 hours days on the regular is ridiculous. My advice changes:

1. Recognize you are now playing a high-stakes game against a ruthless competitor. You must win this game. You want to be a member of a high-performance team? Awesome! It's Team Rhythm_Queen and you're going to crush this.

2. You level up this way: Play along. You're in stealth mode right now and you're going to use this job to learn a few skills.
i) Learn what it takes for you to get up and get into the office on time when it matters and master it NOW. You're no longer chaos-loving you; you're a ruthless high-performance sales master. Fake it until you make it.
ii) You're going to learn a ton of sales skills. You're going to suck up and absorb absolutely everything you can from these other high-performers and you're going to master all of them.
iii) You're going to learn how to turn around management and get them to not only like you, but LOVE YOU. What does that person look like? How does that person behave? You are now it and you're going to make them weak in the knees.

3. While you're doing this, you go home every night and work on getting a new job. Your ACTUAL JOB is not the day job, it's getting a new job. Is this like working two jobs? Yeah, and that sucks, but it'll suck more to have your life leeched out of you at this place. Take the new skills you've just gained and leverage them into a new position. This might take some time, but keep at it.

4. Because you're now so awesome at being a high-performance sales person your new job will be cake but it should also be someplace that you WANT to be at; that allows you to use those skills in an authentic way, not in the way you faked it for so long as the last job. You're so ace at your current place you're no longer in danger of losing that job - they need you SO BAD - so take your time here and find a place that will value you and your skills and that you really like and that let's you live a more balanced life free of bullshit corporate bully-speak like "take the day to think about whether you have what it takes to be part of a high-performance sales team".

5. Quit your current job. I'd be nice to think you could make them weep and rend garments as you walk out the door but the truth is they'll try to belittle you anyway. So just walk out on your terms with your head held high. You've now won at corporate life.
posted by marylynn at 9:47 AM on August 12 [27 favorites]


You can turn this to your advantage. If you actually do change and never again arrive late, your boss will find that extremely impressive.

Do you know how many people change their behavior based upon feedback? Almost none. And do you know how many people adore having their feedback acted upon? Just about everyone.

If you show you’re that rare exception, your boss will be your supporter forever.
posted by mono blanco at 9:56 AM on August 12 [12 favorites]


You and I are two peas in one pod. I had a similar situation where being 5 minutes late was not tolerated, as stupid as it was. For me I just had to pretend my job started earlier than it did, and I believe it. Look at the clock and say "I need to be there by 7:30" and stick to it.

For me, many times the hard part was simply getting out of bed. I set several alarms that would force me up. Sometimes I didn't want to get out of my warm bed so I'd turn the heat on in the morning to make me want to get out of bed more.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:24 AM on August 12


--Find another job
--All your toiletries in a Go Bag. Deoderant, toothbrush/paste, comb, makeup. You can get up and be out the door in 5 minutes if you take them with you to do in the cab.
--Budget for cabs so you don't delay in getting one if you need it
--Oh Fuck outfits, have a few clean and ready, buy more clothes and pay to have your laundry done if needed

The reason you're not more organized is in large part because your work is unreasonable and inhumane and doesn't pay enough to compensate for that fact.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:27 AM on August 12


and what difference does 4 minutes make?

The thing is, you waltzing in four minutes late by itself isn't the problem: the problem is, doing it on a semi-regular basis indicates a lack of respect for both your workplace and your coworkers: that you're a free spirit who can wander in any ol' time you want to and still get the job done, whereas your coworkers must be a bunch of boring sticks-in-the-mud who need this petty regimentation to operate.

Sorry, but no.

Perhaps you should consider working for a much smaller outfit: in my own experience, I've found that the bigger the company is the more they keep strict rules like this, merely because as a big company it makes it easier to keep track of people. Small companies sometimes are looser, because it's correspondingly easier to keep track of the hours worked by 10 people than the big company's 500 people.

Anecdote time: I used to supervise someone who was, every single day, anywhere from 8-12 minutes late: never more, never less; her excuse was exactly the same one, every single day --- heavy rushhour traffic on a specific local bridge. I begged her to simply leave home 10 minutes earlier; she claimed that "wouldn't work". My own boss got so irritated she made this person sign a leave slip for a quarter-hour of vacation time every morning..... then came the day Late Employee wanted to take a two-week vacation, and realized she only had about three vacation hours left. At this point she started screaming about how 'unfair' it all was. My boss and my boss's boss took her aside; I never found out exactly what they said to her, but it worked: after that, Cronically Late Employee straightened up, at least until I left several months afterwards.
posted by easily confused at 10:30 AM on August 12 [8 favorites]


Warning: This is bad advice.

I'd find another job. Unless I'm a financial trader, opening a retail outlet or something where start time is ultra-critical, if my boss is going SEND ME HOME for coming in at 7:49 AM, then they'd better believe I will be out the door at 5:00 PM every day. Not at 5:04 PM. 5:00 PM.

They don't get to have it both ways. If I'm expected to stay 90 minutes late every day, I will not be bitched at for showing up 4 minutes after start time. If start time is flexible by a few minutes, leave time is flexible. That's fair to me.
posted by cnc at 10:43 AM on August 12 [10 favorites]


I concur with everyone else that the job sounds like crap, but until you find another job, you have to dance to their tune. And even if you find another job, the latest start time that almost all office jobs have is 8 a.m. (at least it is here, I hear it's 9 a.m. on the other coast). So this is a problem that you're always going to have until you're old enough to retire--you just cannot have a job that works with your natural sleeping pattern, because the world revolves around happy chirpy early birds who love to wake before the sun and it doesn't matter how late you stay to impress those people.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:53 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


So before my husband (who is chronically late) and my kids (which are just insane late making creatures) I was NEVER late. I accomplished this by being overly anxious and overly cautious. For example, I bet you are thinking "I need to meet my boss at 7:30 tomorrow. So I'll be early! I'll be there at 7:15am. And since it only takes me 15min to commute, I'll leave at 7!". Here's what I'd think in the same situation. "I HAVE to meet my boss at 7:30 tomorrow or I'll be in big trouble. Ok, so I should be there by 7:10-7:15 at the latest. It usually takes around 15min to get in, but I need to add in fudge factor time there so I should leave by 6:45am. But I'm worried I'll be late for that because of ____ (sleeping in, shoe breaking, house catching on fire, etc), so I'll aim to leave by 6:30am." And then from then out I'll reference all my leaving as "I need to leave by 6:30am or I'll be LATE!". So when I'm running around in the morning, trying to determine how much time I have for breakfast or sleeping, I'll have my "I'M LATE!" stress point set earlier and will thus, likely, be running out the door a couple minutes after 6:30 and be at work 45min early. But that's ok, I can eat goof off on the internet, etc and it won't be a problem. And if the subway is delayed, I'll stress about it, but it won't be a problem.

My goal is to always add in fudge factors for every amount of time I expect it will take me to be somewhere and then add some extra at the end just in case. For a job like yours, I would be at work at 7am at the lastest every day to have time to read things and prep for the meeting. If I was later than that once I'd just hurry the next day. If I was later than that more than once I'd start waking up earlier or doing something to take more time off my morning prep.
posted by katers890 at 10:54 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]


I am chronometrically insensitive. On time is really hard for me, especially in the morning. All the tips above are nice, and some will even work for a few days or weeks. But it doesn't change the fact that I'm a night owl with ADHD, and I'm not going to be at work at X o'clock everyday without fail. I feel your pain.

Anyway, remember that on-time is a very easy metric to track. It's black and white and requires no judgement calls. This means the authority figure can make a big deal out of it and not feel remotely guilty. In your case, it's also very visible: you dash in to the meeting and your supervisor is standing there with all of his subordinates. You've been naughty in front of everyone, and naughty in a way that is apparent to everone (rather than just half-assing it through the day like most of your coworkers).To maintain his authority he's got to do something. Even if you're the top salesperson, he's going to feel that pressure. If you're middle of the pack or worse, you're starting to look like a good lesson for the everyone else. And he doesn't even have to use judgement or feel bad about it. These are the problems managers love to solve.

All this is to say that this probably isn't the job for you, or at least this isn't the place for you to be doing it. It's for punctual morning people. That's a transition that is hard to make. I'm not saying you shouldn't give it a try, but you should also start looking for somewhere more interested in what you bring to the job than whether you bring it at 7:45 or 7:49.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 11:04 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


A warning, from someone who gets up over an hour early and still has occasional lateness issues- the fun stuff you do to waste time before you have to get moving has to be done at work. I may be completely wrong here, but I know for myself it's incredibly easy to become distracted by something on the way out the door (you sound like you have ADHD, although I could be wrong). Put the time wasters at work. Show up 30 minutes early with whatever book, game, tv show, etc. available to you to do. Do not have it available at home.

And to those who are saying that being on time is easy, it is and it isn't. This sounds like it will require a fundamental change more than just giving yourself more time. It comes down to only doing the stuff you need to do in the mornings before you step outside.

This strategy may leave you staying at work after hours to go back to a website or finish reading, but that's a lot better than staying at home to do those things.

I may be addressing an issue that is not happening to you, in which case, ignore this. But this sounds far too similar to what I tend to do. And sticking to the no computer in the mornings rule is harder than it should be for me.
posted by Hactar at 1:35 PM on August 12


Laying clothing out the night before has really really helped me get ready more quickly.
Showering before I go to bed has also helped me get ready more quickly.
Aiming to get to work 15 minutes early.
Thinking of my workplace as an airplane which will leave if I'm not there on time.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:01 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Oh, another thing that's really important for me if I need to leave early in the morning: Don't open the computer. As soon as I go online, I can waste many precious minutes without even realizing it. If I want to get ready in a timely manner, the laptop has to stay closed.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:18 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


Oh and I have ADHD and I'm chronically late. BUT I typically can't be late to my job because things can't start without me.

My morning routine is shaved to about 5 minutes. The only things I need to do at home are put on clothes and pee. Everything else I can do at work or on the way. I'm now chronically 2 minutes early :)
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:41 PM on August 12


I don't think you know what a 40,000 dollar job should look like. Unless there is evidence you can rise up the ranks quickly.
That's what I make. (Not in sales). Work starts at 8:30tam plus or minus 7 minutes. If I arrive early I must clock out early. I'm paid hourly. My office is only physically open from 8am to 6pm. There are no exceptions. Start time is 8:30 so no meetings start until 9am. I'm expected to have my stuff together and interacting by 9. I get an hour lunch. 30 minutes unpaid and thirty minutes paid plus 2 15 minute breaks. I take them when I want. I work hard. My job expectations about time are more about fixed funding (non profit). It is serious but lax. If I chat to someone at the water cooler for 15 minutes or is Ok as long as I met my deadlines. If I use my cellphonr in the office is okay as it is not all the time or disruptive. It is a general office job. What you are doing is extreme. Your work is a disservice to its employees (you) and to your customers. You can't do your work correctly at that point. There is a reason work days are eight hours long and again it looks like you aren't getting paid for all your work. I make around 19 us an hour. Exactly 40 hours in a week. You are making what? It is less than that unless your commissions are amazing. Especially if your working 25 hours more a week than I am. This job isn't worth it unless you see a very very clear end goal.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:01 PM on August 12 [3 favorites]


Okay - I am one of those punctual early birds (for the most part!) and let me tell you, working from 7:30 to 6:30 every day would wear me right out and I probably would start being late due to sheer fatigue/burnout. I agree that you are in a "churn and burn" workplace that lives by exploiting young workers until they leave or burn out.

I'm often the first one in the office because I like to take advantage of the morning peace and quiet to start my day. In return, I'm usually one of the first to leave unless it is crunch time - I'm almost always gone before 5. I'd be looking for another job stat if I was expected to come in early AND stay late day after day. (I'm too old for churn-and-burn in any case!)

I would look for a new job ASAP and make it my first priority to find one, because the pace of your work is not sustainable. You could be having trouble getting going in the morning out of sheer fatigue.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:10 PM on August 12


I work in a very different field from you and a very different environment. The high-up corporate rule is show up no later than 9, leave no earlier than 5, take a half hour for lunch. In our office, the rule-of-thumb is: show up for the morning meeting (if you're late, it costs you a dollar which goes into a group entertainment slush fund), do what you need to do to get your job done and we understand that life interferes from time-to-time. Said again for stress: as long as you get your work done.

However, if you are failing to do your job, your slack goes away. If you are consistently late for the meeting, other employees may start to offer to buy you an alarm clock and a manager will ask you if there's something wrong outside work that you need help with or are advised to call in to the meeting. If you cannot do this, managers will conjure a corporate overlord. You really don't want this.

In your case, you have a meeting at butt-early:45 (and honestly, this is hilarious to me because I have a morning meeting every day at 6:00 with my kids, for which Mrs. Plinth and I get up at 5:45) and like everyone has said, you need to be there or you're going to be sent packing. Sorry, they're allowed to set those rules and if you're in an at-will state, they can boot you any time they think that you're making your problem theirs.

If you want to stay there, take a few minutes tonight to figure out where you can cut time in your morning routine until you can life-hack your sleep pattern back to get up earlier. If you're a coffee person, set up the coffee the night before. Pre-make breakfast and lunch (if you bring in lunch), lay out your clothes, etc. And take time to congratulate yourself when you succeed.
posted by plinth at 5:20 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


The deal with this gig is that you MUST be there at 7:45 and you must stay late. Personally, even if it's £40,000 or €40,000 it's not enough for that kind of punishing work day. BUT, if I thought it was, best believe I'd be there at 7:30.

What do you get out of being 4 minutes late? There must be something, otherwise you'd be on time. But nearly every day you're late. There's a pay-off there, you just have to figure out what it is. Do you enjoy making an entrance? Do you like giving the impression that you don't give a fuck? Do you like the attention? (Kids like ALL attention, even negative attention.) I suspect that a lot of it is that you like being noticed by your boss. If you just showed up and did your work, your boss wouldn't say anything to you. You'd just be another drone.

Think about this, if there were a million dollars for you, if you could get to work on time for 30 days straight, you'd make it happen, right? Whatever it was, you'd be all up in it. Hell, you'd be DRIVING the bus to make sure you were there before 7:45.

Either you're the kind of person who can do what's asked of you, or you're just your own special snowflake that gets to waft and float to earth as the mood strikes. One of these people will be successful in a large, highly corporate sales company where they're hardcore on discipline, time management, organization. The other will not.

So, if you really, truly want to make it work, you have to streamline your morning.

1. Set alarm. Get up when alarm goes off. No ifs, ands, or buts. Put the alarm across the room and turn it up LOUD.

2. Shower, grooming, out the door.

3. Check in at work at 7:30.

After meeting, grab coffee and breakfast and eat at your desk.

This is what I do everyday. I can do my make up in 3 minutes and it's a LOT of make up. I set up my outfit the night before, everything, because there's nothing worse than not being able to find the matching shoes when you have to leave RIGHTTHEFUCKNOW!

I put all my breakfast stuff in a bag and leave it in the fridge at work.

None of this is an accident, it's a finely honed ritual that I've got down to a science.

That girl that wakes up, takes her time getting ready, eats breakfast on time, walks to work leisurely, she doesn't really exist.

Just motor through the morning and get the fuck to work. That leisurely crap, with breakfast and the morning paper? GIVE UP! It's not happening.

Get real, and get to work.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:50 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I totally feel your boss on this one. The people saying man, 4 minutes, WTF? are on the wrong track.

I'm an extremely easy-going boss. I cut one or more people out early on a regular basis. I don't charge them for late lunches running errands. People show up a few minutes late once in a while. Within reason.

Walk in late, doesn't bother me. Walk in late a lot, I'm going to start escalating from the stink eye to making a ha ha, only serious joke, to you and me having a little walk, to documenting, and so on. If you don't get it after the little off the record walk-and-talk session, I don't have much hope at that point.

What's the big deal? I'm only asking one thing here, one fucking thing. Be on time in the morning. I want to have my morning meeting at 0745. I want to get everyone out of my office and on their way. You're making me wait. It's not the four minutes, it's the principle. Me: boss, you: not. (Can you guess I've been through this recently?)

Here's the advice I gave my problem person and it's seemed to work. Choose a ridiculously early time to be here. An hour early, say. Figure out what time you have to leave your house to make that happen. THAT'S WHAT TIME YOU LEAVE YOUR HOUSE.

Arrange your morning before that in reverse importance order. Last thing: cup of coffee. Thing before that: make your lunch. Make a written list of checkpoint times you should be doing all those things. Here's the trick: when you don't have time to do a thing before your leaving-the-house time, cut it and leave now. Ruthlessly. Don't try to catch up. You just don't get to do it today.

When you can make that hour-early time for a week in a row, change it to 50 minutes, maybe. If you have to cut something out of your routine, go back to the previous time. This puts your lateness habit on YOUR time and YOUR convenience, not mine.
posted by ctmf at 7:00 PM on August 12 [5 favorites]


I also have to agree with the person who said the real time to be there is probably more like 7:15-7:30, and they should probably just say that (or have the meeting later). By my 7:45 meeting I need to already know who isn't going to show so I can think about how to cover and make the appropriate assignments at the meeting.
posted by ctmf at 7:11 PM on August 12


For me, sometimes I'll press the snooze button a few times because getting ten extra minutes of sleep seems SO IMPORTANT at the moment. But the truth is, 10 minutes of extra sleep is not that important. Whatever time you went to bed the night before, that's done by the time you wake up. If you are going to be tired all day, that is done and getting ten minutes of extra sleep is not going to be a game changer. Hypothetically you literally only need to wake up 10 minutes early if you are getting to work exactly 4 minutes late.

You don't need to turn your life around and craft an elaborate morning ritual. Some people do that and that is great. You just need to get to work a few minutes early consistently over the next few weeks or months, so that your boss can say to himself, "Oh, looks like she reflected on that, got her act together and figured out how to get to work on time. We're good."
posted by mermily at 7:35 PM on August 12


I think the real question is not "how do I get to work on time" but rather "what kind of new job should I be looking for?" You're subconsciously sabotaging yourself because deep down you don't really want to be working there. And that's perfectly okay. Expecting someone to routinely work long hours is one thing if you're also providing a high salary and autonomy to go along with it. But expecting someone to work 11 hour days, every day, on a strict, rigid schedule, in an inflexible, micro-manage-y environment, is not sustainable. I agree with the comments that this is a burn-out job and you're not meant to last. Tell yourself that it's okay to leave, start looking for a new job, and hopefully the relief you feel from knowing that this is a temporary situation will give you the power to start getting to work on time so that you can leave this position on good terms with good references.
posted by storminator7 at 10:50 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Lots of good answers, but I'll tell you something that worked for me. First, figure out when you have to leave the house to get to work on time. Add some wiggle room to make absolutely sure.

Then, divide your morning routine into stuff that you have to do and stuff that you want to do and do the stuff you have to do first. For me it would look something like:

Have to do: Shower (because I'm stinky), get dressed (because, naked)

Want to do: Literally everything else. Breakfast? I can get it on the run. Coffee? I can get it at work. Clean teeth? I have a toothbrush at work. Surf web, Facebook? Seriously???

If I need to leave at 7:30AM (or whatever) then I do the have to do stuff first and then I can do other things. At 7:30AM, however, I leave. That's it. Everything that really has to be done has been done and the rest is optional and I'm opting out.

Your list will be different, but make sure that the "have to do" is "stuff I must do or it is impossible for me to leave for work". Perhaps you have to walk the dog or feed the cat. Perhaps you really can't function without coffee (set it up the night before so that it doesn't take any time out of your morning). I don't know, but make sure that the essential stuff is done first.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 7:12 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Since you mentioned that getting up early enough is part of the problem:

After years and years of having difficulty waking up for anything on time (e.g. 11 am classes, 9 am work shifts), I mentioned to my doctor that I was feeling groggy and having a really hard time getting up in the morning. She suggested that I see a sleep specialist, which I did. My sleep specialist (a specially-trained nurse practitioner) had me keep sleep diaries for a few weeks, and eventually diagnosed Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. She suggested a tiny dose of melatonin each night, about 3 hours before bedtime, and bright light therapy first thing in the morning. Once I settled into a routine with this, I've found it markedly easier to get up in the mornings and make it to work on time. I haven't missed my train lately, except after falling off of my sleep/wake routine due to vacation.

all usual disclaimers apply: IANAD, IANYD, YMMV

Good luck!
posted by brackish.line at 8:19 AM on August 13


11 hours a day, $40K a year, after tax I guess that's.. $10-12/hour? Not nearly enough to burn out for, IMO. Find another job, quit with a smile, suck it up in the meantime.

Nobody is effective after 6-7 hours at work anyway. The extra is doing nothing but making management feel better.
posted by dickasso at 8:31 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


[A few comments removed; if you want to argue with each other please take it to mefimail or some other private channel, don't do it in an Ask thread.]
posted by cortex at 11:12 AM on August 13


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