For me ‘the time it takes is the time it takes’.  What I mean by this is that I cannot dress any more quickly and I cannot eat any more quickly. This means I use a concept called reverse engineering life.

A .clock running backwards demonstrates the concept of reverse engineering time used by Beth MoulamMost people can take short cuts if they are running late, for instance they might eat a breakfast bar whilst travelling, or they might run rather than walk to make up time. If I were to try to eat on my own whilst travelling (because my assistant was driving) then I would spill more than I would eat, need clean clothes and probably still be hungry.  If I were hungry then I couldn’t do whatever I was supposed to do because I wouldn’t be able to concentrate, so it would be pointless being there.  So, this brings me to ‘reverse engineering’.

This is a really useful strategy to help everyone who supports me recognize it takes me longer to do everything. I really don’t like being late so I do everything I can to make sure it doesn’t happen.

A road map of the north of England indicates that Beth Moulam needs to allow travel time to get to appointments

The concept is simple, start with the end in mind, and work backwards to the starting point.  To illustrate the point logically I’m beginning here with the start point but we would do this from the end point normally. For me to go out for an appointment first thing I need 90 minutes to get out of the door from rolling out of bed.  Then I need another 7-8 minutes to get into the van and be sorted to set off.  Now to drive to the destination, a journey of a variable length.  Nearly there, I transfer back into my wheelchair, remove the tie downs, drive out of the van, lock up all of which we allow another 7-8 minutes.  Finally, the nearest parking could be up to 5 minutes from where I need to be, then I need a quick visit the bathroom to be ready to start on time.  In total without travel time we are looking at allowing 2 hours minimum from getting up to be present and correct on time for my appointment.

The timings are just for me… personal assistant and I need to have done preparation beforehand eg choosing clothes the night before, checking I have everything I need ready to go eg uni bag, care bag etc.  Then ensuring breakfast is prepared, as far as possible, before helping me get up, also getting snacks and drinks ready in advance.  My 2 hours does not allow for social chit chat, last minute activities or dilly-dallying.

Some examples are if I’m going to work at home in the morning eg 9.30am start, then I need to be up by 8am, if I need to fit in my exercise programme early then it will be a 7.30am start.  Alternatively for an appointment or activity during the day, such as TASS at 3pm, with a 70 minute allowance for travel, I need to be arriving at the campus by 2.40pm to allow for getting in, going to the loo and being ready to start promptly, this means I need to leave the house by 1.30pm in case of traffic delays or there not being parking adjacent to the gym. Again this means reverse engineering time for lunch and any other activities so I’m ready to leave on time.

When new team members join my team we use a reverse engineering planner to help illustrate the timings and help them get on board with what is needed.