12 Tips for Being Punctual – How to Be On Time

The importance of being punctual cannot be overstated.

Being on time matters; it matters a lot. However, many people find it difficult being punctual. In fact, surveys show that 15 to 20% of the Indian population is consistently late.

There are many downsides that go along with having a habit of being late. Here are a few them:

  • Being late implies to others that you have self-control problems. In addition, people who are not punctual leave a negative image on another person’s mind.
  • Being late is rude or disrespectful to those whom you keep waiting. It tells others that you don’t value their time (which is the same thing as not valuing them).
  • Being late will probably make you feel frustrated and irritable, and this will be reflected/implied in the way in which you conduct yourself during any meeting or appointment that you’re late to.
  • Being chronically late always can make you lose clients; it can strain your relationships with the people who are most important to you and it can make you lose your job.

In addition, there are several other different reasons as to why a person might have a punctuality problem. Some of these include the following:

  • Some people like the adrenaline rush that comes from cutting it close calls. They can’t make any decisions themselves or take action unless there’s a mini-crisis looming on the horizon.
  • Disorganization is one of the main reasons why people are chronically late. It’s hard to be on time when you can’t find any clean clothes to wear, you misfiled the documents that you need for your meeting, or your car keys seem to have grown legs and walked off.
  • People who are easily distracted have a tendency to be late. After all, when they’re about to walk out the door something catches their eye and distracts them long enough to make them late not achieving the objectives.
  • Those who lack conscientiousness are chronically late. Conscientiousness includes regard for others and making deliberate choices.

Irrespective of the reason why you have a tendency to be late, there are things you can do to adopt the habit of being on time. Below you’ll find 12 tips for being punctual.

1. Make Being Prompt a Priority

The first step is accepting that you have a punctuality problem. Then, realize that it’s not a cute or quirky character trait. Instead, it’s a habit that’s developed and having a negative impact on your career, your personality, on your business, and/or on your relationships.

Make a commitment to drop the always late habit and become punctual.

2. Know Why You Want to Be Punctual

Whenever you want to develop a new habit, you need to be crystal clear on the reasons why you want to build that habit. The many reasons you have is a need to adopt a new habit, and the stronger those reasons are, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to make it as yours the new habit.

Sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and ask yourself what you’ll gain by overcoming your tardiness habit and adopting a habit of punctuality, instead. You can write down things like the following:

  • Being on time will help you reduce stress.
  • Being on time will eliminate friction with your co-workers; nobody likes to be kept waiting as it may sound rude.
  • Being on time will imply to others that you can be counted on, which could lead to a promotion.

Be very clear on the PROS that you’ll achieve by being punctual, and then keep reminding yourself of those benefits/perks in order to motivate yourself to become someone who’s prompt.

3. Track How Long Tasks Take

A group of people who are always late has trouble determining how long it takes them to perform different tasks; even those tasks that they do on a regular basis. For example, they might think that it takes them 35 minutes to get ready in the mornings or 10 minutes for a shower when the reality is that it takes them a lot longer than that.

If you fall into this group of people, do the following:

  • Make a list of all the tasks that you have to get done in the morning in order to get ready to leave for school or work (or wherever it is that you go in the mornings).
  • Then, spend a week tracking the time on how long it takes you to complete or achieve each of these tasks. For example, how long does it take you to wash your face and brush your teeth? How much longer does it take you to take a shower? How long does it take you to get dressed? How long does it take you to fix your hair?

Once you’ve tracked how long it takes you to get ready in the morning, you may realize that it takes you 55 minutes to be ready to walk out the door, not the 45 minutes that you previously thought. If this is the case, accept that you need to start getting out of bed 10 minutes earlier in order to make it to your morning destination on time and be more productive.

4. Use a Timer

Once you know how long it actually takes you to complete all different tasks, use a timer to make sure that you adhere to those timelines. For example, if you know that it takes you ten minutes to take a shower, set a timer for ten minutes right before you step into the shower. Then, when you hear the timer ring tick-tock, turn the water off and step out of the shower right away.

5. Be Ruthless With Your To-Do List

Learn to say NO- Why you may have a tendency to be late is because you simply have too much to do. If your schedule is tight, how can you possibly be on time for anything? It’s always better to say “no” to something you don’t have time for than it is to say “yes” and then be an hour late forever.

Double-check your to-do list and ruthlessly cross out anything that’s not a priority. Make sure that you only commit to doing certain things that you can realistically get done, and which you can realistically be on time for. The characteristic trait for punctual people to accept that they can’t do it all.

6. Be Prepared to Be On Time.

Preparation is one of the keys to punctuality. As an example, if you’re constantly late leaving your house in the morning, set up the night before. You can do the following:

  • Choose the clothes that you’re going to wear tomorrow and lay them out.
  • Pack your briefcase and leave it by the door.
  • Make sure that your house/car/bike/locker keys and wallets are by the door.
  • Make your own breakfast -> one idea is to cut up some fruits, put them in a container/storage box, and store the container in the fridge (Make sure the fruits you cut should not be stall by tomorrow)

As another example, if you’re always late for meetings because you can’t find what you need, start preparing for meetings long before time. At least an hour before the meeting is scheduled, gather all of the materials that you’ll need and place them on your desk or on a chair so you remember it and do not waste time preparing things.

Always be prepared to be on time.

7. Give Yourself a Time Cushion

Although if you know how long it takes you to perform different tasks such as driving/walking to work or driving to a meeting across town just give yourself some extra time in case of unexpected events. It’s a given that things are not going to run smoothly 100% of the time.

Here are some of the things that could possibly go wrong as you try to get to your meetings across town:

  1. Just as you’re leaving your office you spill coffee and soil your shirt, so now you have to change into the spare shirt you keep in the closet or buy a new one.
  2. There’s construction or road work or accident along the route that you usually take, so now you have to take a different, longer route.
  3. It starts to rain/snow, which slows down traffic.

One of the habits of the people who are always punctual is that they don’t just give themselves the amount of time that they need to get to where they’re going on time. Instead, they also track time themselves and give time cushion in case something goes wrong.

8. Be Prepared to Wait

People usually feel waiting as wasted time because they don’t like to be early. That is, they prefer to be late rather than reaching early. The key to overcoming this hurdle is to be prepared to have to wait. Waiting time doesn’t have to be wasted time.

Do the following:

  • Keep a manila folder filled with industry-related articles or books you like and take it with you so that you can catch up on your reading while you wait.
  • Plan to answer emails on your work phone.
  • Use the extra time to close your eyes for a while and meditate.
  • See the waiting time as “extra time” and use it to work on a personal project, such as working on your book or on your presentation for the small business you want to start on the side as a hobby or start preparing your personal blog.

NOTE: The best way to avoid being late is to plan to be early. In addition, you can stop crying about reaching early as you might have tools to utilize your wait time.

9. Change Your Thoughts

About Being Early: A lot of people think keeping waiting makes me important as those who are important keep others waiting. Therefore, early meaning that they’re not that important. And no one wants to feel unimportant in away.

The real truth, being early is really a sign of being organized, having respect for others, and having good time management skills. And these are all character traits of important people. Keep telling yourself, “Important people are punctual”.

10. Always Leave on Time

The moment which finally determines whether you arrive where you’re going delayed or on time is the moment in which you decide to walk out your door. Once you’ve reversed engineered the time at which you need to leave is in order to reach your intended destination on time, force yourself to depart at that time decided. 

Think of the following scenario: you’ve estimated that you need to leave by Nine in the morning in order to get at your meeting with the board of directors 15 minutes early. Therefore, at Nine a.m. on the dot get up and go.

Follow the possible protocols:

  • If an email comes in at 8:59 a.m., kindly ignore it.
  • If a colleague walks into your office five minutes before you have to leave, tell them you can give them two minutes and when the two minutes are up, excuse yourself and leave.
  • If it’s 8:58 a.m. and you feel like trying to accomplish in one more task before you leave, have the discipline to stop yourself, get your things, and just walk out.
  • If you get up to leave and you notice that your books or laptop is dusty, make a mental note to clean it when you get back. Under no circumstances should you start looking for a dusting cloth or a wipe to clean it before you leave as things can wait.
  • If you leave for your appointments on time and you gave yourself a time cushion just in case something goes wrong, you’re practically 100% guaranteed to be on time.

11. Set Up Reminders

Set up a reminder for meetings/appointments at least an hour before you have to leave. Also, set up another reminder fifteen minutes before you have to go. That way, you can time yourself so that you’re never late.

12. Practice the Day Before

For important events, such as a job interview or a very important meeting, if you have to give a presentation, make sure to practice how to get at your destination where you need to be the day before. This way, you won’t lose time on the day of the important event trying to find a vehicle or the right address.

Make a good first impression as the FIRST IMPRESSION IS THE LAST IMPRESSION as to when it comes to important events by practicing the day before so that you can be on time.

When you’re on time you’re prepared to do your best and relaxed. Being punctual signals to others, as well as to yourself, that you can be trusted on. Use these 12 tips above to become more punctual.

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