How to Stop Being Late

Does it seem like being on time is just an impossible task? Has your tardiness become a running joke with your friends and co-workers? Or worse, has your lateness become a point of contention between you and your friends? The good news is that lateness doesn’t have to be one of your defining characteristics.

The first step to becoming more punctual is figuring out exactly why you are always running late. Do things just seem to always take longer than you anticipated or is there something about the place you’re going to that causes you anxiety? Or do you just have so much stuff going on that it’s difficult to get anything done? Once you’ve figured out what’s causing you to be late, then you’ll be able to find the best way to solve the problem.

If things always take longer than you expect them to, a good way to get on track is write down how long you think each task will take, then time how long each task actually takes to complete and write it down. Writing it down like this will help you see where you’re underestimating your time and you can work on adjusting accordingly. In general, it’s better to overestimate how long things will take. If you know it takes exactly 12 minutes to drive to the office, it’s better to leave 15-20 minutes before you need to be there to give yourself a little bit of leeway just in case you run into unexpectedly slow traffic or can’t find a parking space right away. Need to speed up your morning routine? Look for things that you can get ready the night before so they’ll be ready to go when you need them.

Many times, people are late because they just have too much to do and are always trying to fit just one more thing in before leaving for an appointment. If this sounds like you, learning how to prioritize and say “no” to things you simply don’t have time for can help get your schedule back on track. And if you’re a few minutes early for an appointment, don’t worry about having downtime. You can use that extra time to check your e-mail, respond to messages, or get a little bit of work done on something else you need to take care of.

In some cases, people are late because there’s something about the appointment or meeting they are dreading so they’re trying to delay having to deal with it. In these situations, people are usually facing something like a meeting with their boss or co-workers, dentist or doctor appointments, or job interviews. Remind yourself of the good aspects of being on time. When you’re on time, you give the impression that you are organized, considerate, and responsible, which are things a friend, boss, co-worker, or potential employer will definitely respect you for. In the case of a job interview, being late for could cost you the job, which will only make you have to go out on more job interviews.

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