How to Overcome Lateness and Be On Time: Part 4

Here is a very easy technique to make it impossible for you to be late.

The essence of the approach is this: if you don’t have to promise to be at a certain place by a certain time, then don’t. That way, nobody can accuse you of being late!

There are several ways to apply this principle:

Don’t Accept the Invitation

One way to avoid being late for an appointment is simply to refuse the appointment in the first place. This might seem obvious, but there are all sorts of reasons why saying “no” can be difficult. One of the things that can make it easy is to remember that you can’t be late for something you aren’t going to, nor be told that you haven’t done something on time when you have politely declined to do it at all.

Interestingly, one of the reasons that I was often late for things in the past was that, to be honest, I really didn’t want to do them in the first place. Nowadays, I do what I can to eliminate those occasions altogether.

Of course, there are cases when you can’t legitimately say “no” to such a request, but there are many times when you can, and should, just say no.

Don’t Specify a Time

If you do decide to do something, but you don’t specify a time, then you still won’t be late.
There are two things to be aware of here, however:

  • Lack of commitment can sometimes be difficult for other people, either because it causes them practical problems or because it somehow damages your reputation. If this is the case, this isn’t the best approach to use.
  • There are times when you imply a commitment to a specific time, even if you don’t actually make one. For example, when you say that you’ll pop round to visit someone “shortly”, then leaving the visit several days isn’t appropriate. You need to use this technique with consideration, not just as a get-out clause when it is convenient to you.

Despite these caveats, there are many situations where this is quite appropriate.

For example (and I appreciate that I am fortunate in this regard) I am in a job where I work flexi-time. As long as I work core hours and do the right number of hours by the end of the week, I don’t have to be in the office at a very specific time. This working arrangement has saved my bacon more often than I care to admit. This arrangement is so important to me that I have turned down exciting opportunities on the basis that there is little flexibility over hours, and have done so without regret.

Specify a Later Time

Finally, if you do decide to make an appointment and you are obliged to specify a time, suggest a time that you know you’ll be able to make. That way, you are far less likely to break your commitments.

For example, if my wife asks me to be home by 5:30 but I know I am likely to run late, I might politely suggest that 6:30 would be more realistic. Of course, this doesn’t always go down very well, but more often than not she prefers me to be honest about my time-keeping rather than cause her inconvenience by being later than I’ve promised.


Some people might think that this approach is cheating – and it, in a way. Others may complain that it doesn’t always work. And they’d be right. But there are lots of situations where this really is the best way of dealing with things. Remembering that I it is better not to make a promise than to break a promise can save you from yourself. It can be a big help in preventing you from being late.


  • Illustration adapted from an original by Sir John Tenniel, circa 1865.

Supporting People Alfred Style

You don’t have to be on the battlefield to help fight the war.

You Can’t Fight Their Battles for Them

Sometimes, we get discouraged because we don’t know how to help the people we care about. We get despondent because we don’t have all the answers, the resources, the energy nor the ability to just make their problems go away. We want to help, but we feel unable to offer the help that is really needed.
It isn’t always appropriate to fight other people’s battles for them. But you can still offer support to people you care about.

But You Can Still Help Fight the War

Consider Alfred Pennyworth:

Alfred is present for very few of Batman’s adventures, but he’s still Batman’s greatest ally and most loyal servant. You don’t have to be on the battlefield to help fight the war.Nerrolken

Now, there are lots of ways to be an Alfred to your Batman (or your Batwoman, Batfriend, Batkid, Batboss, or Bat-whoever needs your support today).

Provide a Refuge

Provide a refuge, somewhere Batman can relax and recuperate. A beverage and a comfy chair can do wonders for your weary hero. Every caped crusader needed a bolt-hole, somewhere to hide out for a while. Tea and cake, Sir?

Take Care of the Batcave

Do some of the little jobs so that Batman can focus on the big ones. Someone needs to wash out Batman’s cape and iron his mask. Why not you?

Be a Confidant

Every Batman needs someone he can trust, someone who can be discreet. He needs someone who knows both the hero and the human, both the Caped Crusader and Bruce Wayne, and who holds them both in high regard. Maybe all your Batman needs is a listening ear, someone he can be himself around, without worrying about what you’ll say behind his back?

Offer Comic Relief

There has always been a comic side to Alfred Pennyworth. A little light relief can help your Batman forget his troubles for a while. So don’t take yourself too seriously. Sometimes even Batman needs a laugh 

Be an Encourager

Encourage your Batman. Always see the best in him. Have faith in him even when he has lost faith in himself. Tell your hero that you believe in him, and help him find his inner strength.

Be a Mentor

You don’t have all the answers, and you can’t begin guess what it is like out there in Gotham City. But you do have a lifetime of experience to draw upon. Perhaps a gentle hint is all your hero needs to solve the Riddler’s clues?

Pick Up the Phone

Batman doesn’t always have the time to stop and explain, nor to tell everyone where he’s off to next. You can help your Batman by taking care of communications. Smooth things over with Aunt Harriet, tell Robin where Batman needs him, or take a message from the Commissioner (or the Great Commissioner, if you’re so inclined).

Be Around

Sometimes it is enough to be there, pottering around in the background. Sometimes Batman just needs to know that he’s got someone there for him.

Know When to Step Up

Occasionally, even Alfred sees a little action. Sometimes, it is appropriate to put on your own hero outfit and enter the fray. It may not be your natural habitat, but that doesn’t always matter. You may not measure up to his prowess in the field, but there are times when Batman needs you out there, anyway. So keep your costume pressed, just in case.

Let Batman Be the Hero

It isn’t always easy to step back and watch someone else struggle. Nor is it easy to work so hard and see someone else get all the glory. But every Batman needs his back-room team.

Are You Ready to Be an Unsung Hero?

So, are you ready to be an unsung hero? Are you ready to be an Alfred? Because there’s a Batman out there, fighting crime and saving Gotham City. And he needs an ally, an Alfred just like you. Because you don’t have to be on the battlefield to help to fight the war.


  • All DC Comics characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are Trademarks & Copyright © 1966 DC Comics, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
  • Image of Alan Napier as Alfred Pennyworth, a single frame from Batman (1966), via Mystery Movies Online. Fair use justification, “Illustration of a specific point within the article”. No free use image available. As this is a fictional, copyrighted character, a freely-licensed alternative could not reasonably be obtained.

The 7 Disorganisations of Stuff

Recognise the 7 types of disorganisation that prevent you from enjoying your stuff.

Our possessions should contribute to a peaceful and fulfilling life. But, all to often, material things become a hindrance to a happy and productive existence. Sometimes, it is obvious that our possessions are causing us pain: we get frustrated when the car breaks down, or you’ve misplaced your biro or even when things just look messy. At other times, we are unaware of disorganisation: we get used to the way things are, and don’t even notice that things could be better. Either way, taking steps to eliminate disorganisation will both reduce stress and make you more productive.

But, where to start? The first step to dealing with disorganisation is to recognise it. So, take a look around your environment, and see how many things fall in to the following seven categories of disorganisation, then decide what you’re going to do about them:

1. Homeless Things

Anything that are not put away properly, or which don’t have somewhere to belong, or which I can’t find when they’re needed.

  • Whenever something new comes in to your life, find a home for it as soon as possible.
  • Follow the “one in, one out” rule.
  • Develop the habit of putting things away whenever you’re done with them.
  • Make it as easy as possible to put things away.
  • Regularly search your environment for homeless things and find them a home.

2. Things I Don’t Need

Anything you don’t actually need, or don’t need yet, or of which I have too many. All too often, these kinds of things do have a home, and are taking up valuable space that could be used for the things that don’t.

  • Regularly weed out the possessions you don’t need any more.
  • Whenever something new comes into your life, ask yourself if you really need it.
  • Borrowing or hiring is often better than owning.

3. Things that Aren’t Ready to Use

Anything that needs repair, cleaning, new batteries, assembly, or unpacking before I can use it. An item isn’t ready for use if I need to pay attention to the item rather than just using it for its intended purpose.

It is harder to maintain than to obtain.Edwin Louis Cole

  • Keep a small stock of generic spares: batteries etc.
  • Work on regular cleaning and maintenance schedules.
  • Whenever something new comes in, prepare it for use as soon as possible.
  • When a maintenance need arises, get the maintenance done as soon as you can.

4. Things I Need but Don’t Have

This waste is often the easiest identify and eliminate, and that can be a problem in itself. We live in a world where buying things is usually made very easy. As a result, I tend invest too much of my time and energy on obtaining things, when I should instead be realising the value of the things that I have already obtained.

  • Plan work in advance, so that you have the appropriate materials and tools when you need them.
  • Get to know the best places to obtain things quickly when you need them.
  • Find an alternative that will do the same job.

5. Things that Are Inconveniently Located

… thus making them hard to get at or put away.

  • Store things as near as possible to the place they’re needed.
  • Improve the type of storage you use.

6. Things that You’re Waiting For

This includes things that are on order, in the repair shop, or which other people have promised to lend to you but which you don’t have yet.

  • Let people know when you need things and why.

7. Poor Quality Things

Things that don’t do their job well, or which are difficult to use, or which break easily.

  • Obtain fewer, higher quality things.

Some People Won’t Get It

Some people just don’t get it, won’t get it or can’t get it. And you can’t make them.

Perhaps they don’t know, don’t think, or they just don’t care. Perhaps they’re insecure, or they’re jealous or they’re afraid that they‘ll lose if you win. Or, perhaps they’re afraid that you will get hurt, and they’re trying to protect you. Whatever the reason they don’t get it, don’t let the witless and the grit-less stop you from believing in yourself.

Now, if someone you trust says you’re wrong, you had better take note, because maybe they’re on to something. So, check your facts, check your logic and double-check your heart. And if it all comes out good, don’t sweat the doubters and the haters. When all is said and done, their problem isn’t with you, but with themselves.

Sometimes it is the people you least expect, the ones who really should know better. Sometimes it is your leaders, your advisors and your staff. Sometimes it is your friends, your family, or even your spouse. And sometimes, it is the whole jolly lot of them.

And sometimes, let’s be honest, sometimes it has been you, and me. So let’s not get all self-righteous about this. We all get it wrong, sometimes. So, “patience grasshopper”. Some of them will get it if you take the time to explain it, some will get it when they see it, and others will get it when they try it for themselves.

But, there will always be the ones who’ll never get it, no matter what you try. Even the Master had problems with the citics and the haters, the flouters and the doubters. ‘Cos haters gonna hate and doubters gonna doubt. That’s just the way it is. So, just let it go, and let them be. And above all, don’t let them stop you doing what you need to do. Because, when you’re right, you’re right.

Some people just don’t get it, some won’t get it and others just can’t get it. And you can’t make them. But if you get it, then live it. When all is said and done, that’s what counts.



You are like grass. I am like grass.

Even the Book says so:

All people are like grass…1 Peter 1:24 (NIV)

Ways that people are like grass:

  • Grass grows.
  • Grass needs to be looked after.
  • Grass produces more grass.
  • Grass is hungry for light.
  • Grass looks good. That’s part of its purpose.
  • A single blade is unimpressive. Grass is better in community.
  • Grass provides nourishment.
  • Faced with a barrier, grass doesn’t give up. See the way it opens up the cracks in pavements? With enough persistence, life can find a way.

Ways that people are not like grass:

  • Grass is green. Most people are not green.

Yes, I have an odd sense of humour.

Image Credit

Image by By LoggaWiggler [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

#IllRideWithYou this Christmas

This is the Christmas that the #IllRideWithYou hashtag went viral.

On Monday December 15 2014, at a café in Sydney, Australia, a lone gunman took a number of hostages. After a 16-hour siege, police stormed the building. The gunman and two others were killed.

Early on during the incident, hostages were forced to hold up an Islamic flag in the café window. Concerns about an anti-Muslim backlash grew.

As news of the hostage siege broke, a post by Twitter user Rachael Jacobs got noticed. Jacobs said that she had encountered a (presumably) Muslim woman at a train station who was removing her hijab. She posted:

I ran after her at the train station. I said ‘put it back on. I’ll walk with u’. She started to cry and hugged me for about a minute – then walked off alone.Rachael Jacobs

Moved by Jacobs’ story, Facebook user Tessa Kum decided to take a stand. Offering to sit next to members of the Islamic faith on public transport, she posted a message to those who took her regular bus:

Wear religious attire, & don’t feel safe alone: I’ll ride with you.Tessa Kum

And so the #IllRideWithYou hashtag was born. It was soon picked up followers, with fellow Australians offering Muslims lifts to work, promises of support and of protection.

As Kum later told news agencies:

It just seemed that a simple way of promoting kindness would be to say if anybody catching public transport didn’t feel comfortable just because of what they were wearing, I would sit next to them, so they weren’t alone.Tessa Kum

Since then, the #IllRideWithYou hashtag has gone viral. Featured in hundreds of thousands of tweets, the hashtag has been picked up by celebrities, news agencies and thousands of ordinary people who want to speak out against prejudice.

To me, this is the perfect illustration of the real message of Christmas. Instead of condemning those who dared to disagree with him, God stepped down from heaven and made this offer to each of us: #IllRideWithYou.


20 Ways to Feed Your Spirit at Work

Use these simple hacks to feed your spirit and keep your energy levels high.

When you’re busy at work, it is easy to loose sight of the things that motivate you. Here are a few simple methods to stoke your inner fire. They may not all be relevant to your circumstances, but I’ll bet that some of them can be adapted to suit your workplace.

  1. Put up pictures of the things that matter to you.
  2. Set your phone to vibrate once an hour. Be thankful for something every time you notice it vibrate.
  3. Whenever you walk through a door, think about an area where you’re growing.
  4. Schedule time to review your mission.
  5. Buy a desk calendar with a quote for the day.
  6. Choose a password that reminds you what you stand for.
  7. Regularly meet up with people who inspire you.
  8. Write an encouraging note to yourself and put it in your lunch box.
  9. Repeat a mantra every time you receive an email.
  10. Put coloured dots on your furniture. Every time you notice them, appreciate someone who matters to you.
  11. Forgive someone every time you visit the rest room.
  12. Go outside at lunchtime.
  13. Sign up to an email service that sends you daily inspiration.
  14. Add prayer and meditation to your to-do list.
  15. Listen to a motivating talk.
  16. Set up an inspiring screen saver.
  17. Seek out a mentor.
  18. Frame your favourite quote and hang it on the wall.
  19. Put on music that energises you.
  20. Share a joke with your workmates.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Image courtesy iwanbeijes via

Organise Your Workspace

How do you organise your workspace for maximum productivity? This question is a broad one, but here are some general principles.

Understand the Purpose of Organisation

First, it might be worth considering what motivates you to get organised? Some people get organised because they’ve been told it is a “good thing”, because they want a sense of control or because they’re into the aesthetics of being organised. However, in productivity terms, the goal of organisation is to remove the barriers that prevent you from getting your work done.

There are two implications of this:

  • If the apparent disorganisation in your workplace isn’t actually hampering your progress, just ignore it. It isn’t really disorganisation at all.
  • If the disorganisation is actually slowing you down, then dealing with the disorganisation is as much part of the job as anything else you have to do in order to achieve results.

Prepare Your Work Space

  • When you are starting a piece of work, put the things you need in the most convenient places for the task.
  • Consider using a tool-belt, desk tidy, apron with pockets or similar, so that the tools you need are always handy when you need them.

Review Organisation Regularly

Most work divides into small steps. At the end of each step, take time to get organised. This includes tidying up and putting away anything that you’ve used in the previous step, and getting everything ready for the next step. The goal should be to make the next step run as smoothly as possible. In any job, preparation and clearing up are as much part of the job as anything else you do.

For example, if you use the Pomodoro Technique, check your organisation at the end of each pomodoro.

Monitor Your Work Space

  • Whenever you use a thing, put it back where it came from, or find a more suitable place for it.
  • Whenever you take a break, take a moment to check your workspace and put everything back where it should be, ready for when you pick up tools again.

Do One Thing at a Time

The more tasks you do at a time, the more materials, tools, work in progress, paperwork etc. you’ll need to keep track of. Limiting yourself to a single task / project will reduce the amount of stuff you need to keep organised.

If you have to do more than one project at a time, take time to organise whenever you task-switch.


Image courtesy Jack Tse via

The Dog Delusion: Personal Experience

This is a guest post by Dick Dorkworthy, who wants us to believe that personal experience is a poor argument for the existence of Dogs.

Dick Dorkworthy is really rather good at not believing in things. He has a certificate and everything.

Today I’m going to show you another neat way to disbelieve in Dogs. Watch this…

Once upon a time, a friend of mine went camping. One night she heard a strange meowing noise. She was convinced that there was a Cat outside her tent. The sound was in every sense feline, so she jumped to the conclusion that it was a black Cat with white feet and a blue collar with a little silver disc on it. My friend said that this experience is one of the reasons she became a zoologist. Like me, she is a Cleaver Person.

I was completely taken in by this story, so I went to the pub where I told some Vicars about it. Two of them were parents, and they just laughed at me. “Kids!” they said in unison. One of them later explained that his children were so good at making meowing noises that they had earned themselves the title of, “Kids Who Sound a Bit Like Cats”.

Just because you think you have heard a cat doesn’t mean you’ve actually heard one, does it?

In a similar way, many people believe in Dogs because they believe that they have seen one. The argument from personal experience is very persuasive to the people who have that experience, but not to Clever People like me who are experts at not believing in things.

Have you experienced Dogs? Bah! I’ve met people who have watched Scooby-Doo cartoons, but that doesn’t make Scooby-Doo real, does it? Did you know that some people who claim to believe in Cats don’t even put food out for them? People who claim to believe in Dogs are just as silly. Oh, dear me, yes!

Someone you haven’t heard of once said,

They’re bonkers! You might think they’re Normal, but they’re not. Those people who believe in Dogs? They’re bonkers, I tell you!

The problem is that our brains don’t always work properly, and we make stuff up all the time. We see faces in clouds, we make up stories about animals that talk, and we see Dogs running around in parks. Your own brain is out to fool you. You can’t trust your perceptions. Your ears hear some noise and your silly old brain thinks you hear barking! Its like when I was a child and I thought I heard a mouse, but it turned out to be a squeaky wheel on my bicycle. I’m a Clever Person, and even I was fooled!

So, there you have it. Personal experience isn’t to be relied upon. If you think you have seen a Dog, don’t expect me to believe you, because I think you’re a first class nut-job. I’m gullible and easily fooled, too. Perhaps that’s why I refuse to believe in Dogs, and will continue to do so, even if I were to see one for myself.

Further Reading

The Ultimate Camping List

A list of everything I need to take camping.

This list follows the same principles as my Ultimate Packing List.


  • Tent
  • Poles
  • Carpet
  • Wind break
  • Groundsheet
  • Pegs
  • Mallets
  • Dust pan and brush
  • Electrical hook-up
  • Lighting


  • Sleeping bags
  • Roll mats
  • Camping beds
  • Duvets
  • Bag liners
  • Pillows


  • Ketchup

Food Storage

  • Water containers
  • Cool box
  • Ice blocks
  • Food bags


  • Stove
  • Gas
  • Lighter
  • Kettle
  • Pots and pans
  • Frying pan
  • Tin opener
  • Tongs
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Knives
  • Chopping board
  • Peeler
  • Oil
  • Paper towels
  • Wooden spoons


  • Chairs
  • Table
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Cups
  • Cutlery

Washing Up

  • Bowl
  • Washing up liquid
  • Tea towels
  • Scourers
  • Dish cloths
  • Anti-bacterial spray / wipes
  • Bin bags


  • Laundry bag
  • Clothes pegs
  • String for washing line