Being on time is a skill. With the sheer number of distractions and delays we face in a day, arriving promptly is an impressive quality envied by those of us who are regularly tardy.
But it’s also a fallacy.
People are rarely on time ― in fact, consistently arriving at your destination at the exact time you’re supposed to is nearly impossible. So really, those who are on time are actually early ― which is where the rest of us routinely late folks unfortunately come in.
Looking to kick your lateness habit? We talked to some expeditious people to find out how they make punctuality look so easy.
1. Be realistic.
It all starts when you begin making plans. If you’re a night owl scheduling an early breakfast, will you really make it there by 8 a.m.? Set yourself up for success, because being honest about your habits and adjusting accordingly is far better than running late once those plans arrive.
2. Prep ahead.
If you’re struggling to be prompt first thing in the morning, set everything out before you head to bed before. Picking out your clothes, packing your bag or prepping your lunch actually takes more time than you might think, and those few minutes are precious when you’re rushing to get ready and out the door.
3. Plan for the unexpected.
Sure, you know it should take 30 minutes to get to work. But that’s from the moment you actually hit the road ― not from the couch, shoeless, without your keys in sight. It’s not accounting for external factors like elevator wait time, accurate traffic or a low tank of gas. Always assume there will be delays. Cushion your travel time ― we recommend anywhere from five to 30 minutes.
4. Make your calendar and Google Maps your best friends.
Fill your calendar with every appointment you have and set alerts to remind you an hour before it’s time to leave. Then make the calendar the first thing you read when you wake up. Also be sure to allow ample time between events. If you have a meeting that should run until 12 p.m., don’t aim to have lunch with a friend at noon.
Always reference Google Maps to get an estimated travel time before you go. Again, add a few extra minutes. The app can help spot a traffic jam, but the delay time is an estimate. Better safe than sorry!
5. Always come prepared.
Do you look forward to listening to a podcast, reading a book or even playing Candy Crush? Make sure to have activities handy to help you pass the time whenever you arrive with a few minutes to spare. It will help you learn to love that bit of free time.
6. Set your watch ahead.
Even if it’s three minutes, that extra padding can make a difference.
7. Consider the person you’re meeting and how they view your tardiness.
Remember there are two (or more!) people in the equation and whoever is expecting you may view your lateness as a sign of disrespect. Your time is no more valuable than theirs ― so show it. They’ll thank you for it.