Being punctual is not a magical gift some people posses and others do not. Anyone can master this skill! How come many of us struggle with being on time then?
It’s not easy to break an old habit, but it’s definitely possible. I put together a short video with 7 easy tips that can help you stop running late:
You are more than welcome to use this video for your own purposes.
People generally don’t want to be tardy and they don’t enjoy dealing with the negative consequences of this habit. Yet, even when they commit to becoming more punctual, they fall into the trap soon again. To avoid this, you have to overcome some common problems and identify the benefits of being o time.
There are different attitudes and habits we develop during our life that influence our perception of time. The time perception also changes with our age. Some people just tend to underestimate how time much time has passed or how long it takes to do something or get from A to B. Others get easily distracted or are prone to procrastination in general.
1.The first step toward change is awareness
And this is the first step in overcoming any problem, not just lateness. The second step is acceptance. Many people rationalise their lateness away. They come up with explanations for being late by blaming external factors (traffic) or other people (kids). Unfortunately, rationalisation not only prevents us from seeing the reality as it is but also from addressing our problems. Own up to the problem and take responsibility for it. That is the only way to make a change in your life.
2. “Just one-more thing” syndrome
I bet we are all familiar with this one. “I’m just going to check my email before I leave the office”, we tell ourselves. Don’t do it! Whenever this thought occurs to you, grab your keys and run. You have to be really strict with leaving at a certain time and cannot afford to get distracted by this “one more thing“.
Don’t make the last phone call before you’re about to leave either. Just walk out the door and avoid this notorious last quick check. Otherwise it will most likely hold you up for longer that you anticipated and you’ll be late for your next commitment.
3. Estimate time better
If you are anything like me, then you probably tend to be quite optimistic when it comes to estimating how long things take. I always remember the shortest time it took me to get somewhere (driving probably around midnight) and use it for my everyday time estimates (driving at peak hours). Other people might believe they get more done in a certain period of time than they realistically can.
The best way to overcome this problem is to start taking notes of how long things actually take. Just use your phone and record the duration of any activity you perform every day. Do this for a week to eliminate any anomalies and make an average at the end of your testing period. Now you have a chart of how much time you need for each of your daily tasks! Stick it on your fridge or save it on your phone, whatever works for you. The point is you should be able to easily refer to it while making your estimates next time.
4. Prepare for the next day
Lay out your clothes for the next day. Going to the gym? Prepare your gym bag too. Put everything you need in your bag (phone, wallet, keys) and leave the bag by the door. Pack you lunch or snack and put all the materials you’ll need on a visible spot. You will be surprised how much time you’ll save every morning.
Maybe you have a morning appointment somewhere you’ve never been before. Look up the address and check how much time you’ll need to get there. Write down the main activities for the next day and plan your time around them.
5. Plan for trouble
Always anticipate something will go wring. The traffic gets heavier because of an accident, you forget your phone at home and have to return for it… These things happen all the time. Adding 20% to your time estimate is a good rule of thumb. If something takes an hour, allow 10-15 minutes extra time.
At the same time, you have to be mentally prepared for waiting. If nothing unexpected happens on your way, you are likely to spend those extra 10-15 minutes waiting. Don’t perceive it as a wasted time. Instead, take your book or notebook with you everywhere and use this time for yourself. Look at it as a bonus time!
6. Be a team member
Being late is disrespectful of other people’s time. In most cases, your actions affect others and you should be mindful of them. Start seeing yourself as part of a team, having a role in creating something great. You colleagues will appreciate the increased meetings effectiveness. Your wife will enjoy date dinners with you even more when you meet her on time.
7. The clock is your best friend
Keep a clock in every room so you can always check where you are in time. Some people say you should set your clock ahead, others believe it will only make you accommodate the extra time in your estimates anyway. Whatever you decide to do, you have to be able to see what time it is, even when in shower.
You can also set up a timer to keep you on track with all your tasks. A great tip is to set reminders before each activity so you know you have let’s say 15 minutes to finish what you’re doing at that point.
I hope these tips will help you on your way to punctuality. And I’d love to hear your own tricks how to make sure you are on time!