Stop Being Late: 5 Tips to Stay On Time

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Do you have trouble arriving to work, meetings, or social engagements on time? You may have even lost out on work or other benefits because you simply can’t make it on time. Showing up late at work can be a career killer, so if you see yourself developing the habit it is important that you change it. If you’re running out the door after you’re already supposed to be in the office, here are 5 tips to adopt to help you change your ways.

  1. Start earlier. It sounds reductive, but it really isn’t. Often, the habit of being late starts when you perceive that you have plenty of time. And, right when you get up, you probably do. But time ticks by quickly. Stop thinking that you have plenty of time to sip your coffee and scroll through Facebook. Set an alarm, create a schedule, and follow it. Pad your time frame. If your commute normally takes 20 minutes, you can’t leave 19 minutes before your morning start time. Instead, give yourself a half an hour.
  2. Think backwards. The best way to determine how much time you need is to think backward from the start time. When is your Monday morning meeting? How long does it take you to drive to work? How long does it take you to get showered, dressed, and ready in the morning? As you determine each of those steps, calculate how much time you really need. And once you find out what time you should get started, pad that by adding an extra 10 or 15 minutes. There are some emergencies you can’t plan for, like lost homework and road construction, so don’t let those unforeseen things get in your way.
  3. Block out extra time. People who arrive early use this easy technique. They’ll block out time before and after an important meeting as commute or prep time. So, for example, if they have an interview at 10 a.m., they aren’t walking out the door at 9:45. They give themselves an extra 15 minutes to arrive at the office and scope out the environment. They will also blog out the time after. If the interview is expected to go an hour, they won’t schedule something for 11 a.m. Once something goes over, you don’t want to find yourself back in emergency mode.
  4. Check your attitude. Chronically late people often have similar characteristics. For example, if you find yourself stuck in traffic, are you resentful because it is everyone else’s fault that you’ll be late. This could be a habit you’ve developed that answers why you leave your house too late to arrive somewhere on time. Self-sabotaging behavior can be destructive, and often goes unnoticed. And arriving late and in a bad mood won’t help you perform well or make a good impression.
  5. Say no. Another reason some people are late is because they take on too much and can’t juggle it all. It may be time to say no to added commitments that take time away from important parts of your life. Saying no to some extracurricular activities can take the pressure off of you to be everywhere at once and can help you free up some time. Determine the priorities that really matter and be okay saying no to other requests.

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