Five Tips to Be Always on Time

Five Tips to Be Always on Time

By Marelisa Fabrega 1. Admit you have a problem. It’s tempting to downplay your delays, but the first step to being punctual is accepting you have a p...

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By Marelisa Fabrega

1. Admit you have a problem.

It’s tempting to downplay your delays, but the first step to being punctual is accepting you have a punctuality problem. Admit that your constantly being late is something you need to fix.


2. Figure out your “why.”

There are several reasons why people are perpetually late to the party, according to explains time-management consultant Diana DeLonzor in Never Be Late Again. Some fit the classic “absent-minded professor” archetype: They’re easily distracted, misplacing car keys, getting lost, or completely forgetting appointments. 

Others are adrenaline junkies who love the thrill of being late—running to catch a train or rushing breathlessly into a crowded auditorium. Or maybe someone is asserting their power (“I’m such an in-demand, important person that everyone else can wait for me.”). One human behavior expert even suggests someone may be late because they’re feeling guilty over some other act—and being late gives them an opportunity to apologize for other un-absolved sins. 

Whenever you have somewhere to be, do you feel like you need to do just one last thing before you leave—which in turn causes you to fall behind schedule?

While these all sound pretty sinister, it really boils down to a false sense of being productive, or what some experts call “One More Task Syndrome.” Whenever you have to be somewhere, you feel like you need to do just one last thing before you leave, which in turn causes you to fall behind schedule. 

Doctor’s appointment in thirty minutes? Sure, you tell yourself you’ll just send ten emails before you leave. Eight o’clock dinner? OK, but you want to re-organize your bathroom cabinet first. Early morning workout? Well, you really want to buy a coffee on the way to the gym. It’ll will help you push harder, right? 

The bottom line: All of these nonessential tasks just make you late, and if you want to stick to a schedule, you need to cut them out. Hence No. 3… 

3. Just say “no” to nonessential to-dos.

To put an end to this last-minute dash, try to differentiate between tasks that you absolutely must do and tasks that can wait. (Hint: Most can wait.) Do you really have to empty the dishwasher before leaving for work? Or pick up you dry cleaning? No! Stop whatever nonessential chore you were doing when it was time to leave your apartment or even the office.

Research shows that people who try to do more than one thing at a time (known as “polychronicity”) are more likely to be late for work. So when you find yourself cleaning the apartment before your morning commute or over-committing to plans in one evening, stop and force yourself to be more realistic about what you can do in that timeframe.

Another major cause of wasting time? Your iPhone. Many times when you should be walking out the door, a new Instagram notification or text message calls your name, drawing your name into a social media black hole for the next fifteen minutes. Focus on becoming more aware of not checking it, despite the allure of a lit-up screen. 

4. Prep for success.

Lay out your clothes for the next day, hoping it will cut down on the interminable waiting time for you to get ready for school or work the next morning. Keep your outfits as basic as possible (think: jeans, simple shirts, and the same jacket and shoes every day). This will save you a ton of time and decision-making on hectic mornings. 


5. Expect the worst (and plan accordingly).

It sounds counterintuitive, but when it comes to being punctual, it’s better not to be optimistic. As Fabrega points out, “things are not going to run smoothly 100% of the time.” Translation: Allow yourself plenty of extra time. You never know when there might be subway delays or construction on the roads.

Define exactly what it means to be ‘on time.’

In an office where you don’t have set hours, decide that your start time will be 9:45 a.m. For other scenarios—dinner with a friend, a workout class—your start time would be a few minutes before the actual event time, as experts say you should plan to arrive early rather than on time.

Marelisa Fabrega is a self-growth and productivity blogger.