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At my university I'm taking a class where we need access to a certain lab. To get into the lab you're supposed to have a pass card to unlock the door. However the door is usually propped open and if it's not people always let each other in. I decided to buy a pass finally, because an assignment deadline is coming up and if I need to go there at night when other people aren't there it could be an issue.

I went to buy the pass card and the people in the buildings office sent me to the bookstore because that's where it's sold now. When I did buy it, I had to activate it online. When I did activate it, it said it takes 1 business day to process. This was on Friday and now I can't work on it over the weekend.

In general how do you prevent from these mishaps from happening? I moved from a large city to a smaller (and IMHO) more bureaucratic one and I find things like this often happen. For example, I would never have expected having to wait 1 business day.

Admittedly a small part of me didn't want to cough up the money to pay for the pass card and my friend gave me his but it didn't work anymore.

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This sounds less like an unforeseen circumstance and more like waiting until the last minute to purchase a pass you knew you needed for some time.

I find it effective to have a dedicated afternoon once a month to run small errands like this, as they have a tendency to perpetually drop to the bottom of the list if you don't make time for them otherwise.

Keeping a dedicated "errands" list on your mobile phone for things you have to do in unusual places (like the school bookstore) can also help if you can get in the habit of peeking at it at the start of each day. Then it's easy to notice when you are already planning to be nearby and to pop in and take care of it. This is useful for trips the post office, picking up a random piece of hardware, etc.

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When you think of your assignment (and its deadline) as a project that has to be completed, you can plan ahead and put buffers for unexpected circumstances. I just finished reading the book "Critical Chain" by E.Goldratt that explains in-depth the train of thought for exactly how projects can be completed on time, or before time, when planned correctly.

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I edited the link in your comment. Creating this kind of link is easy using the button (chain link symbol) in the answer editor. Or you can directly write markdown syntax, if you are that kind of guy :3 – 0x6d64 Jan 26 '14 at 14:16

When I moved from the USA to live in Jamaica I found that I needed some new habits to cope. Like a small town in most countries, things move very slowly and there's a level of bureaucracy that has it's own pace.

I discovered the key is simple... along the lines of what Evgeny suggested in this thread. Build a buffer of not only time, but space, money, energy... anything you need to get stuff done.

The reason is that here in Jamaica things take place with a lot of variability. Something could take 5 minutes or two hours - depending on factors that can't be identified clearly. my response has been to start everything early and assume that things will take longer than average.

I build buffer time into my schedule very day as a result, knowing that when I make a plan that consumes this particular 90 minute block of time, I am courting danger. In my schedule, it's set up just like any other appointment (but without a reminder.)

The same principle applies to other scarce items like money, space, safety etc. BTW.

I hope this helps.

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