I'm late! I'm late! For a very important--
September 4, 2008 10:41 AM   Subscribe

How can I get to class on time? It is the third week of the college semester, and I have already missed three classes because I've been so late that I couldn't bear to walk in the classroom door. I've walked in 3-15 minutes late already to a number of classes. Not good...

So. I care about school, or I think I do. I respect that other people need to learn. I loathe being a disruption. I appreciate and enjoy all of my professors, and I want to make a good impression. I want to learn! So why am I getting in the way of that by being late all the time? What's are some solutions?

This has been a problem, well, pretty much since I've started college. It has gotten a bit worse, though. I can't decide if that's because I'm so appalled with my tardiness that I won't walk in the door anymore, or if I'm really just running later than I used to.

A lot of times, I just can't get out of bed. Even when I have slept well. Even when I have a lot to do in the morning, or when I don't have much to do at all. It's even worse when I don't get enough sleep, which is often. But it's like I just don't have that extra oomph to get myself up. I just hit the snooze button repeatedly, or I turn it off and then fall back asleep.

Then, when I do get out of bed, I have a lot to do to get out of the door. A lot of times I'm rushing around. Sometimes I'm just moving slowly about. I can get so engrossed in certain tasks (checking e-mail, showering, fixing my bike helmet, etc.) that I just ignore the time.

I live off campus, so some days I drive or some days I walk or bike. Regardless, I'm a mess, and I'm always scrambling about.

What are you tricks for getting yourself out of bed and out the door in the morning?
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (53 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Here's an idea... set the time on your alarm clock ahead. And to avoid second-guessing the clock in the morning, don't just set it ahead; learn the art of bumping it ahead by some random amount and not looking at the time before or after so you're not aware of the clock error. If you do it right and pretend the displayed time is the real time, it really works.
posted by crapmatic at 10:47 AM on September 4, 2008

Set two alarms, and put one across the room from the bed so you HAVE to get up to turn it off.
Get your stuff ready the night before; have everything laid out and ready to go.
Start talking to yourself; "tomorrow I'm getting right out of bed, getting ready, and will be out the door in n minutes". Do this a lot, all day.
Start writing down how long it took you to get out the door, and what delayed you. Post the list on the wall next to your bathroom mirror and make yourself read it. Resolve to get faster at one item per day (or week).
Get more sleep, I know it's hard, but try setting a bedtime and sticking to it.
posted by dolface at 10:47 AM on September 4, 2008

This happened to me in undergrad. I resorted to putting my alarm clock across the room from my bed, so I had to physically remove myself from underneath the covers to turn it off. Once I was standing up, it was a lot easier to keep moving into the shower and then out the door.
posted by meerkatty at 10:48 AM on September 4, 2008

Not a terrific idea (especially if your body perspires differently than mine,) but outside of Hygiene Necessities (teeth/deodorant,) I'm out the door literally minutes after I roll out of bed. Once I'm outside, there distractions boil down to a minimum. I shower/shave/etc. the night before and make sure I know exactly where the clothes I need are so I can stumble over to them bleary-eyed, get dressed, and throw myself out the door.

Also, keep the alarm clock out of reach and running ten minutes early. Like way out of reach. Somewhere you have to expend effort to turn it off (nb: don't stick it somewhere you might hurt yourself trying to turn it off while only barely awake.) The third time you have to walk ten feet to hit 'snooze,' you might remember the advice above.

Finally, if this works, make SURE you tell the professors what is going on (and that it won't be happening again) and make doubly sure you haven't been dropped from your classes.

On preview: Everyone beat me to it.
posted by griphus at 10:49 AM on September 4, 2008

I always set my own personal "leave time" for a lot earlier than I should. If it takes me 15 minutes to get somewhere, and I really don't want to be late for it, I will set my "leave time" at least 30 minutes before the time I'm supposed to be there. That way I either leave "late" and get there just on time, or if I do manage to leave on time, I'm there early and can read my book/chat/whatever when I get there.
posted by Grither at 10:50 AM on September 4, 2008

I had a good friend - one of nature's own early risers - come and harass me every morning of my freshman year.

Alternatively: annoy yourself as much as possible in the morning with alarm clocks hidden somewhere across the room.
posted by svolix at 10:51 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Another idea -- if you're partial to coffee, get a coffeepot with a clock, and program it so that there's the smell of hot coffee when it's time to wake up. Knowing that there's caffeine relief at hand will give you an extra incentive to get up.
posted by crapmatic at 10:51 AM on September 4, 2008

The only reason I graduated was that I bought a wind up clock with an absurdly loud alarm (sorry neighbors!), and every night before going to bed I'd first lay out everything I needed in the morning, then set the alarm and move the clock somewhere across the room from the bed (with a different location every night).

The thing would go off like a banshee, I'd scramble out of bed to turn it off, and by the time I'd found it and turned it off I was willing to accept that I was awake for the day. I'd only shower, get dressed, and grab my stuff before going out the door; otherwise I'd get caught by email or bike maintenance.

Later, when my girlfriend moved in, she demonstrated altogether too much willingness to elbow me in the ribs until I was out of bed, and it was a little more effective.

On preview, yeah, like everyone else, apparently.
posted by VeritableSaintOfBrevity at 10:56 AM on September 4, 2008

Get up and out the door and aim to be on campus by 8 every morning (or 9 or whenever makes it so you're on campus already well before your first class). Plan on studying in the library or coffee shop until class. Or go the the gym and exercise. Once you're there, it will be much easier to just walk into class.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:57 AM on September 4, 2008

Negative feedback. Every time you get to class late, pull out a dollar and drop it on the floor outside before you walk in. In the unlikely event it's still there when you leave, you can't pick it up. If you're so late you daren't enter the room, drop $5.

Then: the ways in which you try to avoid doing this will tell you why you're having such trouble getting there on time (that is to say, the little stories you tell yourself in order to feel OK about not leaving the money, the small changes in habit you make to avoid having enough money to leave, etc., will point to the core reason you're chronically late, which you can then address by itself). Can't say if this is universal or not, but the general approach worked disturbingly well for me.

...setting that aside, have you considered whether you may have a sleep disorder of some kind?
posted by aramaic at 10:59 AM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

This may be less useful in the Age of Facebook, since it has become very easy to find out how stupid most people are, but this is how I managed to wake up for early classes:
1. Get to class on time once.
2. Find someone in class on whom to have a crush.
3. Every subsequent day,waking up early is mostly about getting to see that person again. Also becomes very easy to find time to make yourself presentable.
posted by milkrate at 11:00 AM on September 4, 2008 [9 favorites]

DO NOT TURN ON THE COMPUTER IN THE MORNING. that was the one thing i did that really helped me stop being so late to stuff in the morning. just get up, shower, grab your stuff, and out the door.

sleepiness i understand, and i have a hard time ignoring the siren call of the bed. it's helped me to put my really loud alarm in the bathroom so i have to get up out of bed, scurry to a different room and turn it off. the loudness is good so that i can hear it, but also good because it is so loud that it will wake/annoy neighbors and i don't want to be that guy.

college students are pretty much always starved for sleep. studying, partying, gaming, whatever into the wee hours will do that. so, try getting to bed a bit earlier. also, figure out if there are any nutrients that you're missing in your diet. when i was seriously anemic i was in bed more than out, and once i got some more iron into myself, it was easier for me to wake up and stay up. getting enough quality sleep will make it easier for you to get up without hitting snoozed.

and, being a couple minutes late every now and again is fine. 15 minutes late once a semester is tolerable. but daily tardiness won't reflect well on you, nor will continued absence. make sure you're at least checking in with a friendly classmate so you can stay up on readings and lecture.

oh, and get your book bag/lunch bag/clothes ready the night before so you don't have to run about in the morning trying to find your copy of hamlet.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:01 AM on September 4, 2008

A la griphus, one of the things that gets me out the door faster is having everything prepared the night before right by the door.

You already know the things you do that eat up your time (e.g. email) either set yourself a limit using a timer or just don't do them until after your first class of the day. If they're things you can't prep the night before and can't wait until after class, time yourself doing them - (how long does it take to make coffee? how long does it take to dawdle over a bowl of cereal?) and then work backwards from when you need to leave. That way, you'll know what to cut from your morning routine if you're running behind.

Recently I've taken to using my phone to set a "you should have left the house by now" alarm - when I hear it, I know it's time to ~boogie~ out the door.

Good luck!
posted by oreonax at 11:07 AM on September 4, 2008

Nthing putting the alarm clock across the room. I got in that same cycle of snooze-button my freshman year (2 years ago) and I got to the point where I would turn off my alarm without actually being awake, leading to me missing a final.

You need to teach your body that when the alarm goes off, It's time to get up. Putting it across the room helps that pattern. Also, I recommend using lighting to help you. Depending on what time your classes are, either leave your blinds open so the sun helps wake you up, or you may want to consider a bright lamp on a christmas-light style timer. It won't wake you up, but it makes getting out of bed that much easier.

And, like others mentioned, pretend you need to be there 10 minutes before you actually need to be there. It's hard to keep it up, but it works. (At my school anyways) just about everyone goes to class for the first couple of weeks, so if you want a good seat, you need to show up earlier. (And you want those seats, you understand more and pay more attention!)

It's good to see you taking initiative so soon. Don't let this keep happening, and try to get some sleep, yeah?
posted by JauntyFedora at 11:09 AM on September 4, 2008

Oh, and if you've got morning classes, don't go on the computer. Time-suck.
posted by JauntyFedora at 11:10 AM on September 4, 2008

> A lot of times, I just can't get out of bed. Even when I have slept well. Even when I have a lot to do in the morning, or when I don't have much to do at all. It's even worse when I don't get enough sleep, which is often. But it's like I just don't have that extra oomph to get myself up. I just hit the snooze button repeatedly, or I turn it off and then fall back asleep.

I had the same problem: I was just beat in the morning regardless of how much sleep I got or what time I got up. Eating better (less sugars more vegetables) and getting a little exercise has helped immensely. I now have way more energy in the morning which makes it easy to get up at nearly any time (with as little as 6 hours sleep).

I tried the moving my alarm clock/setting stuff out thing, and it just never worked for me. I think that's treating the symptom rather than the cause anyway.
posted by roofone at 11:11 AM on September 4, 2008

I used cron for my alarm in undergrad. I'd need to log into root to shut it off. I had multiple alarms playing music loudly for waking up, plus it played the Dr. Who theme when I needed to be walking out the door. Of course, my flatemate once asked "Why does your computer always play the Dr. Who theme when you're in the shower?", ymmv.

Today I think the internet is the major source of my tardiness, but iCal alarms help considerably.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:14 AM on September 4, 2008

My trick -- and something I still do -- is to leave all the windows uncovered (think pulling back all the shades). I've been lucky to have super bright rooms, so it becomes too annoying to continue sleeping.

I've also used a space heater. I'll set my alarm to 15 or 20 minutes before I should get up, and when it goes off I hit the space heater button and then the snooze button. By the time I've snoozed once or twice more, the room is either (1) warm enough so that getting out of bet isn't painful (since I used to dive back under the covers because the room was too cold) or (2) it's so hot that staying in bed is too uncomfortable.

Good luck!
posted by lockestockbarrel at 11:17 AM on September 4, 2008

I had this problem in undergrad. I calculated the shockingly high cost per year of attending college and wrote that in HUGE numbers on neon paper and posted that on the ceiling over my pillow. Problem solved. It's really hard to skip class when you're thinking about the $42,697 you/your parents/the government is paying for you to be there.

On a practical note, if you're late because you're doing things like checking email, you obviously need to not do that in the morning or get up earlier so you have budgeted time to do what you want/need to do. It think most people aren't very realistic about how long things take - make a generous written estimate of your morning, I bet you need an earlier wake up time.
posted by robinpME at 11:18 AM on September 4, 2008

I am fairly certain a co-worker of mine sets the alarm on his watch to go off at about 20 minutes before 5 so he doesn't forget to pick up the kids from daycare. You could try a similar approach -- being sure to set it 20 minutes before your class so you know that is the time you need to focus on getting out the door.

Also, if you have trouble finding stuff in the morning, pack it up the night before so you don't have to worry about it. Just make sure you are consistent with this lest you forget to pack up your calculator, etc one night and then just rush out the door without it before your calculus test.
posted by sararah at 11:19 AM on September 4, 2008

Don't use/turn on the computer before classes. Email and so on will expand to fill any amount of time you have or incorrectly think you have. And it will all still be waiting for you - as a reward - afterwards.

Find one of those books that you just can't bear to put down, and make a rule that you only get to read it while waiting for class - so the earlier you arrive, the more you get to read. It might motivate you to speed up your getting-ready routine, rather than stuff like email which motivates you to slow it down.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:22 AM on September 4, 2008

I love the advice to keep your alarm across the room. I find that I need extra help however, so now I have two alarms. One beside the bed set for, say 7:45am. I will hit snooze on that. As a back up I have my cell phone alarm set, plugged in across the room, this one set to 7:50am. I find that merely having my alarm across the room doesn't wake me up enough... I just sleep through it no matter how loud (I guess I'm that girl) I need the first alarm to sort of interrupt my dream so I'm conscious enough for the real alarm.
Also, I've never been able to fool myself with the "set your clock early" trick.

Oh, oh I almost forgot; in college I had (still have) an awesome Bose cd player/radio/alarm clock that had a neat alarm feature. It would gradually increase in volume until you got up to shut it off. I could set it to a nice soothing cd and let my mind wake up a little more naturally.
Anyway, Bose is not cheap, but it was super.
posted by purpletangerine at 11:24 AM on September 4, 2008

To tough questions you should ask yourself:
Do you really want to be in school? Are classes just something to pass the time?
My answers were No and Yes before being asked by my school not to come back.

I loved partying, had a decent job with money coming in…I just didn’t give a crap.
So after failing out I went full time, still loved my job, but soon found that I was really pigeon holed by this employer since I didn’t have a degree. So shortly after I moved 1600 miles started taking classes again and graduated with honors.

Moral of the story: your basic classes suck but it’s a means to an end if your chosen end includes a degree. Find a subject you find interesting and make it your major – with a goal in site little things like waking up and making it to class will certainly have more value to you.

Good Luck!
posted by doorsfan at 11:28 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're just not that excited about the classes you're taking. You snooze and dawdle because you don't really want to go. I had this problem all through my first job out of college. I thought that I just really wasn't a morning person. Then I quit that job and went somewhere with coworkers that I loved and tasks that were fun. I made it to work on time every day.

So try to figure out something about each class that you really like and that you'd be disappointed to miss. milkrate's advice about picking someone in class to crush on is not a bad idea. It'll definitely make the idea of getting out the door in the morning a lot more attractive. And definitely follow everyone's advice to just not even turn the computer on in the morning. It's a huge time suck.
posted by MsMolly at 11:35 AM on September 4, 2008

I never got up in time because there was no one there to make me and the consequences were mostly inconsequential. The semesters I did best at getting to class were the ones where I had something I had to, or really wanted to, do before class. Get an early morning show on your campus radio station (or something similar), get a morning job, or hell, even a dog.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 11:37 AM on September 4, 2008

You think you're running late - 1 problem - but really, you have two problems to solve:

#1 - how to get out of bed on time.
#2 - how much time do you need in the morning?

"What are you tricks for getting yourself out of bed and out the door in the morning?"

The trick is to NOT reinforce your own bad habits. Conquer them instead. Here's a perfect example:

"A lot of times, I just can't get out of bed. Even when I have slept well."

Some will say to set your clock ahead - say, 20 minutes - so you'll actually have an extra 20 minutes to get up and out the door in the morning. It's a good strategy at first, but in the long term, it just adds to your inability to budget time as your brain gets used to an hour being as many as 80 minutes long. If you're already having trouble budgeting time, this will only make you worse in the long run.

What you need to do instead is figure out how much time it actually takes you to do something, and then budget that much time.

...of course, it won't work if you don't get out of bed on time... so that's a second problem to conquer.

Move your clock far enough away from your bed that you have to get up to turn the alarm off. And DON'T use the snooze/sleep function. You simply have to teach yourself that when it's time to get up, YOU GET UP.

Best of luck!
posted by 2oh1 at 11:51 AM on September 4, 2008

You just do it.

You need to decide that your time, and your proffessor's time, and the money that you/your parents/private foundations/the state are paying for you to be there are worth going to sleep at a reasonable time, and waking up and getting to your fucking class.

No one likes waking up early, just do it, its your job.
posted by BobbyDigital at 12:03 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

N'thing the suggestion for light. Sunlight from open blinds if possible, or a bedside lamp if the sun's schedule doesn't fit yours. I can easily go back to sleep even with the radio playing in a dark room, so I reach up and turn on the lamp. The jolt of "AAAAAHH!!!! Too bright! My eyes!" snaps me awake completely, and it's no fun lying there with the blasted lamp shining right in my eyes, so I get out of bed.
posted by Quietgal at 12:11 PM on September 4, 2008

Do the bare minimum in the morning: shower (maybe), brush teeth, get dressed and go. Have your bag and clothes ready before you go.

Do not check e-mail, do not collect $200, etc.
posted by k8t at 12:14 PM on September 4, 2008

To help solve the sleepiness in the morning problem:
Practice good sleep hygiene.
Eat well.
Get exercise.

To help with being late, even though you got up in time:
Get up, and get out. No puttering.

Don't check email, or read or watch tv while eating breakfast, or anything. Get up, get into the shower, get dressed, eat, and get out of the house. This might mean that part of your sleep ritual every night involves getting things ready for the next day: notebooks in you bag next to the front door, clean clothes picked out, and so on.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:43 PM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

I doubt that any of the above advice will work; I know -- I have the same problem, and I've tried it all. It got up to no curtains, three alarm clocks at various positions and all sorts of motivational thinking before I gave up.

The problem is that you're not really in control of things when the alarm clock goes off, your monkey brain is. And it wants to go back to sleep, cares not a jot how much college costs, how long you have left in your time budget, or whether or not x hot chick will be there.

So train it: multiple times each night, before bed, set your alarm to go off in 15 minutes. Get in bed and act like you're asleep: lights off, eyes shut. When the alarm goes off at the other side of the room, get up, switch it off, walk to the bathroom, turn on the shower and brush your teeth.

Half an hour later, do it all again.

After a week of this, when your alarm goes off in the morning, your dutiful monkey brain will have you in the bathroom brushing your teeth before you're even awake, for certain. At that point your brain is going, you can tell yourself you really want to do this, and if you're still not going to college, at least it's your own damn fault and not your bloody body's. Good luck.
posted by bonaldi at 12:44 PM on September 4, 2008

If you're a chronically late person, DO NOT join the radio station. You will be late and everyone will hate you.

My mom swears by the book Never be Late Again
posted by radioamy at 12:53 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have this problem, too--I sleep through alarm clocks like crazy and I'm always late to everything. I haven't gotten my own problem quite figured out, so take these suggestions with a grain of salt. That being said:

- Be honest with yourself about how long it actually takes to do things. For a while I was trying to convince myself that I can be up and out of the house in 40 minutes, when in reality it takes me an hour. On a day when you don't have to rush, time how long your morning routine takes you. That's the bare minimum amount of time you need to give yourself in the morning, so do whatever it takes to get out of bed at that point.

- Financial incentives. Figure out how much you would pay to be able to make it to every single class on time. Divide that amount by the number of weeks remaining in the semester, and every week that you make it to every single class on time, put that amount in an envelope. At the end of the semester, use the money to splurge on something you wouldn't normally buy as a present to yourself. And give yourself a bonus if you make it to absolutely every single class from this point on.

Really, this is all about breaking routine. Right now you're used to sleeping in and being late, so it doesn't feel like that big of a deal when it happens again and again. You need to establish a new routine, one that involves getting up right when the alarm clock goes off, being able to take your sweet ass time in the morning, and getting to class in plenty of time. It's going to feel like pulling teeth to establish this new habit for the first few weeks, but you'll get used to it. You just really have to commit to it 100% without letting that little voice in the back of your head convince you that it's no big deal if you hit the snooze button another couple of times. It IS a big deal. 80% of success is showing up. (On time.)
posted by cosmic osmo at 1:12 PM on September 4, 2008

What really works for me is setting 3 alarm clocks. 5am, 5:20, and 5:30. So that way, even if I hit the snooze, I'm gonna be up like every 3 minutes re-hitting is so I just give up and get out of bed.
posted by mabelcolby at 1:15 PM on September 4, 2008

Sleep on the floor. Maybe on a thin mat or pillow. It will be comfortable enough to sleep on, but uncomfortable enough that when you wake up you'll instantly want to be up off the floor. This works like a charm for me.
posted by nameless.k at 2:23 PM on September 4, 2008

If you're getting to class "so late that [you] I couldn't bear to walk in the classroom door", you are in fact giving yourself a reward for being late. Why? Because you don't want to go to class.

aramaicat 1:59 PM on September 4 had it:
Negative feedback. Every time you get to class late, pull out a dollar and drop it on the floor outside before you walk in....

It doesn't really matter how you implement the change, but you've got to stop rewarding yourself for being extra-late. Next time, you're going in to class anyway - even if the teacher (or your peers) harangue you for it.

Then follow the rest of the advice for getting up & getting out the door earlier.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:30 PM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

A lot of times, I just can't get out of bed...
...Then, when I do get out of bed, I have a lot to do to get out of the door.

As others have pointed out, this is two problems, not one. I used to suffer from them both, too, until I learned one simple planning philosophy that allowed me to overcome them:

It takes longer than you think.

"It" is whatever you do between being snuggled down in bed and arriving at your desk or lab station: having breakfast, showering, collecting your books, checking e-mail, walking or biking or driving or catching the bus. Whatever --- it takes longer than you think. Adjust your plans accordingly.

For me, that means (for example) allowing time to miss the first bus and catch the second. It also means I can check e-mail before classes, but only to read; I respond later in the day.

It also means I stick to an ordered morning schedule: get up when the alarm goes off, no snooze button. If you can force yourself to do it, it gets to be a habit. (I drink lots of water, which propels me out of bed for that first morning trip to the bathroom. There's no point going back to bed after that.)

I then hew pretty closely to the same routine every morning:
- have my espresso and breakfast (which is roughly planned out the night before; no foraging through the cupboards in the morning) while I check the weather and my e-mail and nothing else.
- take my bath, brush my teeth.
- get dressed. I rarely lay out clothes the night before, but I at least consider what I might wear and think about where it is: in the closet, in the laundry basket, in a pile on the study floor. That lessens the frantic search for something, anything, to cover myself.
- put lunch (made last night) in my bag with my books, etc. (packed last night)
- head out with a nice buffer of time, so I'm not running for the bus...
- ... except, of course, sometimes I am running for the bus, because (did I mention?) it takes longer than you I think. But that's okay --- I budgeted in extra time, so I can take the next bus and still be on time. If I do make the first bus, I can relax and have a coffee and pastry review my notes before class starts.

If I suspect I might dawdle over any part of my schedule, I set a timer to go off a few minutes before I have to move on to the next step.

Some days I reward myself by spending that extra time basking in the sun (or reading something fun, or meeting with friends, or having that coffee and pastry) once I reach the campus. It's important to reward yourself for meeting your goals.

My super-deluxe secret weapon? I allow myself one free day per class per semester; I think of them as "personal snow days." If I simply can't get out of bed because it's so darned snuggly, or can't get out of my own way long enough to get my clothes on, or for whatever reason cannot make myself keep to my schedule, I'm allowed to cut class this one time.

That really clarifies things for me on a drowsy morning: am I willing to cash in my one "snow day" today, or am I just feeling momentarily lazy and should get out of bed? Usually, it's the latter.
posted by Elsa at 3:31 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Everyone's given you plenty of suggestions about getting up early, but as a college instructor I want to say this: go to class, even if horrendously late. Not all professors will agree with me (but they'll usually say so on the syllabus), but I'd far, far rather have a student come in halfway through class and get some of the material/assignments, even if I mark them absent, then have them miss class and--as students are wont to do--then subsequently send me panicked emails when they don't know how to complete the assignments.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:51 PM on September 4, 2008

Another professor chiming in here. Like PhoBWanKenobi, I'd prefer my students to show up late than not to show up at all. Serious chronic tardiness (as in more than 5 min. late on a regular basis) may be cause for the TJW Glare of Death and Immediate Destruction, but at least you'll be there.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:06 PM on September 4, 2008

Imho, any collage professor will prefer you late than absent *if* you enter through the rear of the class. I can't speak for classrooms with only front entrances.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:45 PM on September 4, 2008

I second all the above. I've tried a bunch of the above. I'm ALWAYS late. It is a matter of time management, but I've also found my mood is the key. So, once I get in bed, no matter how cranky/how little sleep/shite of the next day on my mind....I concentrate on slowing breathing, heart rate, and telling myself I'm going to wake up in a good mood. When I wake up, I do the same. I make a mental space for myself. Being relaxed helps me feel less like my time is being attacked, and I can then focus on getting things done. Next day may suck, but hey, it'll be over eventually.
posted by shinyshiny at 6:06 PM on September 4, 2008

I'm amazed I'm the first person to suggest this, but here it is:

Do not set the alarm. Leave the clock so you can see what time it is, but just skip the alarm.

No snooze button means no second chance. When you wake up you are not negotiating with your clock or your perception of what will come of your day. The awareness of this will result in one of two outcomes:

- You will awake slightly before the alarm would have gone off anyway (opening windows for the sun helps in this case) just from the anticipation of the alarm.
- You will sleep blissfully until your body is ready to wake up.

Before you dismiss all this, I want to strenuously second the advice above about making sure your diet, exercise and nutrition are decent (regular leafy greens, water and a few long walks a week are a good start), but overall I find that half the problem with alarms is they tend to drag one out of whatever point in the sleep cycle you're in at the time. At least for me, that makes the day start in a way that makes me just want to rejoin that sleep cycle so desperately I will snooze my way into mid-morning.

Having no alarm means you will learn to time your sleep so that you get some reasonable harmonic of your natural sleep cycle (usually around 90 minutes). The positive reinforcement of waking pleasantly without an alarm reinforces the behavior that enables it, such as going to bed a little earlier, skipping that evening caffeine, etc.

As noted above, you should just join the class late - you're paying for it, after all. And this advice may result in a few missed classes or late mornings, but the anxiety/rebellion cycle of the alarm clock may be part of the problem - as many have mentioned above, determining how long things actually take (especially things like email - skip that in the morning) is crucial. I'm extending that advice to "determine how long you need to sleep then go to bed at 8am-minus-that-duration."

I haven't used an alarm in nearly five years. When I've set one, I have never once not awakened before it went off in that time (even when working off little sleep, traveling internationally, etc). I am *not* a morning person at all, not an early riser, and not some kind of focus-junkie; this just happened to work for me and might help you.
posted by abulafa at 7:14 PM on September 4, 2008

Drink a glass or two of water before you go to bed. That way you'll have to get up. You may want to try this on a weekend night at first to make sure that the urge to pee isn't dragging you from bed in the middle of the night.

It's also good if you can give yourself something immediate to look forward to, as incentive for getting out of bed. Really good cereal, coffee, the prospect of seeing a person I had a crush on, listening to music, and getting to read a particular book on the train have all worked for me at one point or another.
posted by corey flood at 7:25 PM on September 4, 2008

My solution is similar to aramaic's, but rather than trusting my rationalizing self, I get an enforcer. Get a friend who is willing to take your money, and have them check on you every so often. If you've been late to class, you owe them $20. (If you have pushover friends who won't take your money, have them collect and donate to a charity.) It's much easier to lie to yourself than it is to lie to a friend.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 7:32 PM on September 4, 2008

Prep some things every night before bed: set out your clothes you want to wear the next day. Do you shower in the morning? Can you switch that to evening? (this is something I'd love to do but is a bit challenging--I look ten times better if I shower in the morning). If you prepare this right you can go from bet to hitting the street in 5 minutes.

Alarm clocks--have two! One of my ex-girlfriends had four alarm clocks strewn across her bedroom floor as she was a very deep sleeper. I did the same thing a lot in college, turning off the alarm in my sleep. Another suggestion: I use my cell phone as my alarm nowadays, and to turn off the snooze you actually have to open it up, look at the screen and select a few buttons, rather than absentmindedly stabbing one button in the dark. I can't recall ever sleeping in since I started using my cell phone to wake me.

You may just have the lateness gene. I know some people who are just simply late to everything, all the time. My wife does this a lot. I'm the opposite, usually I'm always early. But with proper planning, I think you can turn it around.
posted by zardoz at 7:54 PM on September 4, 2008

I was pretty lousy at getting to class on time at college. My first semester, I signed up for an 8 a.m. class thinking that that alone would force me to make the most of the day. Ha! I rarely made it to that class. I'm assuming you don't have a roommate? If you do, you could see if they would be obliging enough to throw something hard at you if your alarm clocks keep going off and you don't get out of bed. If not, do you have any friends in your early classes? Or a friend(s) who is good about getting up early and has to be on campus at the same time as you? Maybe you can ask them to call you and make sure you're on your way.

The technique that was most successful in getting me up and out the door for class (USUALLY) was making breakfast dates with friends. I never lived off-campus, so I'd meet friends in the snackbar or cafeteria, and they'd be pissed off if I didn't show up and usually call my room. If you don't want to get breakfast on campus, make dates to meet someone for coffee/tea or just to hang out for a few minutes in the student union, quad, etc. Just having SOMETHING that you have to look forward to and/or someone waiting for you might help.

I also definitely agree with having your clock set a bit fast. Maybe it would be good to have two clocks, one with the correct time and one set ten (or fifteen, or twenty) minutes ahead. Only look at that one in the morning/when you are running late. I hope you have better luck than I did!!

(Also, I KNOW it's embarrassing to come in late to class, but it really is better to do that than miss the entire class. Profs might not appreciate the disruption, but they'll be a whole lot angrier if you don't show up repeatedly.. I speak from experience!)
posted by Mael Oui at 10:01 PM on September 4, 2008

I use a single alarm clock with dual alarm settings. I set one for 8:00 and one for 8:05. I find that the first alarm jerks me from my deep sleep, then I'll usually drift back off, and then the second alarm rouses me more gently, since I wasn't sleeping deeply. And I NEVER let myself use the snooze button. Seriously, tape over the snooze button if you have to.

I also like corey flood's advice on giving yourself something to look forward to- I have been eating really nice breakfasts with good coffee lately, and it really gives me a reason to get up on time. I hate missing breakfast now, and last year I rarely ever ate it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:04 PM on September 4, 2008

Have you ever tried a vibrating alarm? They're usually made for deaf people and run about $20-$40, with some higher-end models strong enough to shake the entire bed, but you can test it out with the ``silent ring'' of a mobile under the pillow.

This only helps if you're specifically having trouble waking up to sounds, of course, not if you're just sleep-deprived. I've overslept my (very loud, far away from the bed, etc.) alarm by an hour, until someone from across the hall came in and woke me. There's a special feeling of terror, though, when something under my pillow starts crawling around, that just gets me up immediately. Too bad my own cell phone doesn't seem to allow vibration as an alarm.
posted by d. z. wang at 10:50 PM on September 4, 2008

I can't give you alarm clock advice or how to dry your hair fast. But your description of your experience seemed all to familiar to me, so I'll just share my story.

For the first two years or so of college I had a very hit and miss policy with attendance. For some classes attendance was not a problem, for others I was habitually absent. I would just keep hitting the snooze button, or I would just not even try to get up in time. I would tell myself that it was an early morning class and I wasn't a morning person and I didn't really even need to be there at all.

This turned out to be a big problem. Things really start to suck when you find out that you totally missed a midterm exam because you just didn't know that it was that week. There is nothing worse than having to go to office hours and beg the professor to let you take a make-up exam because you just couldn't be bothered to show up. Or when you find that you have to teach yourself a large amount of material in a hurried fashion right before finals because you don't have a clue what's been going on in class. It really is hell when you can't seem to motivate yourself to go to class and you still have to deal with doing all the work on your own, or not at all.

Naturally my grades started to suffer and I generally was just not having a good experience. Mercifully somewhere during my junior year I stumbled on a philosophy that really changed everything. Here are the general principles:
  • You have to enjoy the class. This naturally gets easier with time because classes become more topical and related to your interests and less about general knowledge or educational requirements. But as others have said you can still find ways to make it interesting no matter what the topic.
  • Don't let yourself skip. Ever. At all. Go to every class. A funny thing happened when I stopped skipping classes -- life was a lot less stressful. I didn't have to be so self-sufficient and self-directed to learn outside of class. Concepts are a lot easier to learn when you have someone guiding you, and tests/assignments are much easier to deal with when there's no surprises. So this was my mental incentive for never skipping -- it make my life easier, not harder.
  • Embrace study groups. When I was slipping, the classes that I pulled myself out of were the ones where I was part of a group that would work on assignments together. The ones I did horribly at were the ones I tried to go solo. Forming a study group helps in that when you schedule to meet to work on an assignment it's a lot harder to blow off than when you are working alone. Plus if you're in the same section you can meet the people in class and have a shared experience. It provides an extra heap of motivation to engage with the class rather than to just shrug it off and skip.
  • Check your shyness at the door. Part of going to class everyday is also speaking up when you don't understand something, or want to get clarification on something. I found that when I engaged with the professor it created a dynamic that made me want to be there much more than if I were just sitting in a back row taking notes. This also fits in to the idea of making your life easier, because if you can solidify your understanding of the material during class then you don't have to waste time alone trying to teach it to yourself. And the vast majority of professors (at least the competent ones) really enjoy when there's a dialog and they're not just lecturing. You also get small bursts of encouragement if you ask good clarifying questions because you not only help the other people in class that had the same issue but you also help the professor get his or her point across in a way they might not have considered. It really is a win-win situation when you can learn to ignore that little voice in your head that is telling you that people will laugh at you if you speak up.
If I had to sum up this philosophy I would say that it revolves around you actively wanting to learn something, rather than passively attending because it's what's meant of you. I think the natural reaction when confronted with boredom or disconnect from the subject is to mentally withdraw and that's exactly the opposite of what you need -- it just snowballs and makes everything worse. Stay engaged and everything becomes much easier.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:59 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bottom line, barring you actually have some sort of sleep disorder, is GROW UP! Earning the respect of your peers and your elders should be enough motivation. Whenever it is appropriate, dwell on the fact that your professors and classmates are less and less likely to take you seriously (and therefore less likely to spend time helping you learn things) each time you are late. At the same time, while you're learning to change your habits, you have to force yourself to go into class late. You made your bed, so now you have to sleep in it.

I agree with Rhomboid. When I was in college (a year ago) I always motivated myself by thinking, hey, even if i didn't do the reading and am going to turn in that paper another week late, the least i can do is show up to class. why screw myself even further by falling behind further? all you have to do get your ass out of bed and walk in the door. (granted, its tough when you have very obviously not prepared, but that doesn't seem to be your problem)

leave yourself time to check your email at school before class. that way you are out of the house (early even!) and you are more conscious to be able to watch your time and not get lost and turn out late.
posted by dahliachewswell at 2:11 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

have you considered the possibility that you suffer from depression? Sometimes not being able to get out of bed is a symptom.
posted by lrivers at 9:34 AM on September 5, 2008

As others have pointed out, this is two problems, not one. I used to suffer from them both, too, until I learned one simple planning philosophy that allowed me to overcome them:

It takes longer than you think.

Incidentally, I've done a lot better with this since I got my BlackBerry. With my husband deployed, I tend to go straight to the computer when I have other things to do in order to get the slight chance of a few minutes' contact with him. With the BlackBerry, I can keep moving around and pause long enough to send a message without ever sitting down. Finding out what's taking extra time and making it faster may be a solution. Need clothes? Lay 'em out the night before. Need breakfast? Have a water bottle and a bag of fruits or vegetables ready to go. In my case, just have to get your email/IM? Send it to the phone.
posted by Cricket at 9:43 PM on September 5, 2008

All the "grow up"/"just do it" talk got me to thinking: I have been on the receiving end of similar harangues about sleeping, time management, organizational skills and such. If this is the only area you're struggling with, then maybe that's all you need. If you have any other ADHDish behaviors, go get screened.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 11:40 PM on September 5, 2008

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