Running five minutes late may not seem like a big deal to you, but for others it clearly sends the message that you are not a good time manager. Punctuality is harder for some than it is for others, but it's a skill that can be learned. Here are a few tips and tricks to help keep you punctual and looking your best:
Get up; wake up. Set your alarm and place it across the room. This will force you to get out of bed to turn it off. Once you are up, it is easier to keep moving. Preset the coffee maker to automatically turn on five minutes before your alarm goes off, so you are greeted with the smell of fresh coffee, a good incentive to rise and shine.
Determine what is causing the delays. For some people, watching the morning news is a helpful way to start their day. Others may find that the television is a distraction that easily steals thirty minutes of their morning. An unexpected text message may eat up 10 minutes, or your children may need help dressing for school. Make sure to schedule ample time for interruptions and encourage your kids to get up 10 minutes earlier.
Factor in traffic delays. It's inexcusable to say that you got caught behind a train, were stuck in a traffic jam, or didn't know it was going to rain... weekly. Cutting it that close is a recipe for disaster. Plan on arriving to work 10 minutes early, giving yourself a margin for any unforeseen situation.
Invest in a variety of baskets. Do you find that you are often ready to dash out the door but can't find your keys or the pumps you kicked off the day before? Is your purse overflowing to the point where you must dump its contents on the counter to look for lip gloss? To avoid the morning frenzy, place decorative baskets by your door and choose a chair or shelf for your purse. Deposit any shoes you plan to wear the next day in one basket. Put your keys, cell phone, lip gloss, sunglasses, and random receipts in a decorative bowl or in another basket. Invest in a phone charger to keep at your office, so you don't have to run back inside the house when you realize you forgot to charge your phone. Finally, leave any shopping bags containing clothes you plan to return during a break by the chair or shelf that is holding your purse.
Be wise when planning meetings. You may think you have plenty of time to get from Point A to Point B, only to find you are always running behind. Plan your meetings in closer proximity and anticipate that your first meeting may run late. If you find you have a few minutes to spare, reward yourself for your promptness by stopping at your favorite coffee shop for a quick cup of brew.
Fuel up on the way home. If you drive to work, get gas at the end of the day rather than on the way to work. It's better to make a few sacrifices with your routine rather than forcing others to wait for you in the morning.
Trick your brain. Set your clock ahead 15 minutes. Leave early and you will get to your meeting in plenty of time. Take advantage of the extra down time by reviewing your notes, settling into your desk, or by taking a breath and congratulating yourself for your timeliness.
Practice positive self-talk. When you have said all your life, "I am never on time," you have reinforced unproductive behavior. Try saying, "I'm committed to being prompt, and I am good at it!" Make a goal to be the first person to arrive, rather than the last.
Consider others. Your modified behavior will not only affect your self-image, but also the way others treat you. An employee, client, or friend that knows the value of punctuality is someone who can be trusted to show good judgment and attention to detail.
Plan breakfast at dinner. After clearing the dishes from the table, take a few minutes to reset the table with a plate, bowl, glass, vitamins and anything else you plan to eat or drink in the morning. Pre-planning your breakfast the night before will have you out the door in a timely manner.
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