We all like to think of ourselves as reliable people. But often, life seems to get in the way of being more reliable. The truth is, though, we have more control than we think over how well we keep our commitments. All we need are the tools to stay on top of things.
"If you are struggling to keep your word, be on time, and honor your commitments, it’s a sure sign that you’re out of integrity with yourself in some way," Bernadette Pohl, founder and head coaching of Bernadette Pohl Coaching in Anchorage, Alaska, tells Bustle. "Somewhere along the line, you stopped paying attention to your needs, and you started saying 'yes' when you really wanted to say 'no.' Oftentimes, this happens because we are people-pleasers, or maybe we feel selfish when we don’t put other people in our life first. However, this inevitably backfires when we have a breakdown and find that we are not honoring our time and commitments after all."
You may not become more reliable overnight, but you can gradually develop better habits. Toward that end, here are some ways to get better at being on time, keeping your commitments, and becoming more trustworthy all around.
1Say "No" More Often
It's better to disappoint somebody when they ask you for something than it is to give an answer that pleases them only to disappoint them later. "Saying 'no' can seem difficult at first, but simply be willing to practice it," says Pohl. "In the end, it is the most loving and true way that you can be honest with yourself and others, and you will stop setting yourself up to break your word."
2Write Down Your Commitments
It always feels like you'll remember everything you have to do, but that often proves easier said than done. To make sure you don't miss anything, you should take advantage of every tool available to remind yourself, Elizabeth Grace Saunders, time management coach and author of Divine Time Management, tells Bustle. Write everything down on a calendar that you check every day, and set calendar reminders or even an alarm to remind yourself.
If you can't respond to emails or texts right away, set deadlines for when you will, and use a calendar app or alarm to remind yourself of them, psychologist Dr. Sal Raichbach PsyD, LCSW of Ambrosia Treatment Center tells Bustle. Otherwise, they may forever get lost in your inbox.
4Remember The Impact You're Having
You may feel more motivated to keep your word if you think of how it impacts others when you don't. Raichbach recommends asking yourself: "Will you be disappointing people? Will it cause you to miss out on a rare opportunity? Will people stop asking you to help or to do things with them that you enjoy? Consider what you will miss or lose out on if you don’t keep your word. If the stakes are low and you would be more content to stay at home, then it is time to consider being more careful about the commitments you agree to."
5Set Timers When You Need To Leave The House
If you're chronically late, you should set two reminders every time you have to go out, therapist Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT tells Bustle. Set one for 15 minutes in advance, or however long it'll take you to prepare, so you can get ready in time. Then, set one for when you have to leave. That way, it'll be impossible to lose track of time.
6Complete Tasks When You Get Them
If you wait to do quick tasks, they'll pile up and become overwhelming. Instead, if something's only going to take a minute or two, do it right away. "Instead of saying 'I'll forward you the email,' for example, just send it," Christopher K. Lee, Career Coach at Purpose Redeemed, tells Bustle.
7Plan To Arrive Early
If planning to arrive on time makes you late, it seems logical that planning to arrive early will make you on time. "For those who are chronically late, set time to be extra early — too early even," Lee says. "Chances are, you'll be just on time without the stress."
8Schedule Notes To Self Into Your Day
It's best to write down things you have to do the moment you know you have to do them, but in case you miss anything, Lee advises scheduling some time into your day for writing notes to yourself. You might be surprised by what slips your mind.
Being reliable may not come naturally to everyone, but everyone can learn to be — or at least to be aware of their unreliability so that they don't over-commit.