Do you remember the robot from Lost in Space? He was always saying “Warning, warning! Danger Will Robinson!”.
It’s OK if you don’t. I am dating myself here.
When my kids were little, we measured time either by TV shows (don’t judge me) or by time specific terms like “pretty soon” and “after while”.
Here’s how it worked: my kids loved “I Love Lucy” and it came on every week day at noon, usually when we were having lunch. So if there were plans after lunch, it helped to tell them that after Lucy we were going to go to the store or whatever.
The concept could also be expanded to “after two shows”.
When the TV wasn’t on, there would be a series of warnings. “After while you will need to clean up and get ready for dinner.” “Pretty soon we’re going to have dinner, so you’ll have to clean up soon.”
“After while” was understood as being longer than “pretty soon”.
Giving the kids an advance warning of time passing helped them adjust to changes. They were less likely to complain about having to abandon play time for something else.
Advance warnings can help adults too.
After all, we don’t always want to abandon our play time for something else, like work.
Giving yourself advance warnings is a good idea. Knowing in advance what’s coming up will make it less of a surprise and help you be prepared.
You can use your phone’s alarm to serve as a warning device for time specific things. And here’s a tip: build travel time into that alarm. If you have an appointment at 1:00 and it takes you 15 minutes to get there, set your alarm for 12:30. That gives you time to transition out of what you were doing, get your shoes on and find your keys and still get there on time.
Your planner or calendar is another advance warning system, but best used for longer term things. Make a habit of looking at the week ahead each Sunday evening and planning for anything out of the ordinary.
If you have a GPS – even if it’s on your phone – you can use it as an advance warning system, especially when you might be distracted or on autopilot.
If you’re driving home from work, for instance, you are most likely driving on auto pilot and thinking about dinner. But what if you need to stop at the bank or the cleaners today? Set your GPS to that destination and it will keep you from driving right past it on your way home.
And finally, if you still have any around, children of most any age can serve as excellent advance warning systems. Simply tell them to remind you of something you need to do at a certain time and they will take care of the rest. Multiple times….