With the advent of cell phones, the internet, and greater connectivity it seems like the idea of punctuality has gone out the window. Since it’s so easy to send an “I’m running 15 minutes late!” text, being on time just isn’t a priority for a lot of people. Of course technology isn’t solely to blame, since for some being late acts as a little power trip while for many they’ve simply developed poor time management habits over the years. Lateness isn’t only inconsiderate, it can seriously hurt you in your career since many will see you as irresponsible and unable to work within time constraints. If any of this describes you then read on, or forward it to your friend who you’re probably waiting on right now.
1. Figure out how much you’re usually late by and why
The next few times you go to work or meet up with a friend track how late you were. Are you consistently late by the same amount of time or are you all over the place? If you’re usually late by the same amount of time the solution might be as easy as pushing your routine up so you can leave your home a few minutes earlier but if your arrival times are inconsistent then you probably have some organization and planning issues. Do you find that you’re always late to places you don’t want to be, like work or when meeting up with certain friends? If that’s the case then you need to figure out why you’re avoiding these things and may need to make some changes in your life.
2.Once you’ve figured out how much you’re usually late by and why, it’s time to start making some changes in your routine
It’s probably a good idea to adopt an “on time is late” mindset. At best you’re early to wherever you have to go and at worst you get there right on time. If you’re the type of person that has to be at work or school at 9 a.m. and only give yourself 20 minutes to get there since that’s how long Google Maps says it will take, then you have to start leaving your home earlier. Most people have an aversion to waiting but is it that big of a deal to sit in your car for a few minutes before work because you arrived early? Nearly everyone has a smartphone now so take that time to catch up on the news or tweet about how mad you are that you got to work earlier than you have to.
3. Get more sleep
One reason many people are late is because they simply can’t get up in the morning, leaving themselves the bare minimum amount of time to get ready and hit the road. If you’re not a morning person I feel your pain, but if you’re constantly struggling to make work on time because you’re exhausted then you have to make some changes to your sleeping patterns. Find a way to get to sleep an hour earlier and see if that helps. If you read that and said “there’s no possible way” in your head, then you may have too much on your plate.
4. Plan out your day (even the little things)
Recognize how long things take- Another reason many people are late is because they don’t plan well enough and underestimate how long tasks take to complete. You may think it only takes 20 minutes to shower, shave, and get dressed when in actuality it’s closer to 40. Be more aware of how long these things take you to do, especially the things you do every day. Many fall into the bad habit of trying to fit “one more thing” in before they leave the house. What this turns into is three more tasks that take you five minutes or more than you expected and now you’re close to 15 minutes late. Analyze your habits and even log how long each step of your routine takes if you have to. Try planning everything out a day in advance and place everything where you need it to be the night before. So many minutes are wasted when we’re half-way out the door but realized we can’t find our keys or misplaced our wallets. A little planning will help alleviate these stresses and help your punctuality.
A few other tips you can try to end your chronic lateness:
- When working on something set an alarm for the amount of time you expect it to take you and see where you are when it goes off. This will help you reevaluate your time estimations.
- Lie to yourself. If you have to meet a friend for coffee at 7 convince yourself that you have to be there by 6:45, or even 6:30. That way if you run late like you usually do you’ll (hopefully) get there on time.
- If you’re the type of person that is always late because you need the pressure to get yourself going then try setting personal deadlines and give yourself a penalty if you don’t stick to them.
- If you’re the person who is always late because you “can’t say no” then you’re going to have to learn how to say it. Whether it’s a friendly coworker trying to chat or your friend asking for a favor, learn to say no when you’re faced with a deadline. Tell them that you’re running late and can help them tomorrow or that you’d love to chat with them later.
For many people chronic lateness is what they would describe as their biggest personal flaw. Oftentimes it’s not intentional nor done with malice but that doesn’t mean it can’t have negative effects. Don’t lose the promotion you were gunning for or miss out on spending time with the friend who is only in town for a couple of nights because you were late. With A LOT of self-discipline and by utilizing these tips you just might find yourself sitting early in work among the punctual people.