Ten tips on how to stop being chronically late
Several months ago, I got slowly into the habit of becoming late. It didn’t get too bad but I sometimes get 10 minutes late for a conference or 5 minutes late for a meeting. I sometimes scramble the last minute to make printouts relevant for a meeting that I arrange.
Without me being aware that this habit is creeping upon me somehow I got into this habit. Slowly I also got into the habit of getting to work in the morning about 15 to 30 minutes late. Even though I always stay late after the regular working hours, I wasn’t happy with the new tardy me.
Once I realized about this bad habit I took several measures to prevent it from happening. In this article I will list the steps I took to make sure that I will get in time, every time.
- Think about all the benefits
The most important aspect of changing any (bad) habit is the realization and the commitment that you want to change. This is so important that I cannot emphasize it enough.
Once you made the commitment to change that habit it is really easy to take the steps to remove the factors that were leading to that (bad) habit. So the first and foremost is to have a very strong conviction and commitment to change the habit that you want to get rid of.
The realization that being on time is a choice I make was an important part of this process.
Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing.
– Thomas Jefferson
You should have a clear vision why or for what reasons you want to change this bad habit. For example to be in time every time is a commitment I made to myself due to the following reasons:
- Being late is unprofessional, and I don’t want to have such a reputation.
- I believe that punctuality is a quality that shows respect to others as well as to oneself.
- I don’t want to apologize to anyone for being late.
- When I have enough driving time, I can be a generous driver stopping for other people or cars and not to be in a tense or hurried pace.
- Having enough driving time will keep me relaxed while I am driving. I can listen to my favorite audio programs or songs while driving.
- I can plan my day while I am driving or plan for the meeting I’m going to participate.
- If I’m the organizer of the meeting, there’ll be enough time for me to settle down and arrange the required things for the meeting.
It’s how we spend our time here and now, that really matters. If you are fed up with the way you have come to interact with time, change it.
– Marcia Wieder
Do not get fixated on the time you need to reach your destination. Instead calculate your commute time. Then add at least 10 minutes to it as a buffer (depending on your type of commute). Then subtract this time from your meeting time. Now focus on this new time and make sure you get out of your house at this time.
For example you had to be at a meeting at 9:00 in the morning. You estimate your commute time to be half an hour. Then add at least 10 minutes to it as a buffer which will make the total time as 40 minutes.
Now make sure that, whatever happens you will get out of your house at 8:20 AM.
I had the bad habit of attending to some emails before I leave home. Sometimes I may assume that I could send a reply to an email in one or two minutes, but once I type it up and re-read it, it may end up taking 5 or 10 minutes and voila! I am late agin. Avoid this last minute urge to become super productive.
Don’t pick up the phone when you are about to leave your house.
Let all non-emergency calls go to your voice mail. You can always return those calls in the evening. And you will be prepared to talk to the person in a relaxed manner instead of cutting them off since you are rushing for work.
If there are critical tasks to be done in the morning (such as putting the garbage at the curb for your once a week pick up), filling the dog’s water bowl etc. then see if those can be done the night before.
Fill your gas tank the evening on your way back home from work, instead of waiting to do it in the morning.
Also, during winter months, if your battery is struggling somewhat to start your car and it is a few years old, then go and replace the battery at the earliest opportunity.
Your battery can die without any warning and you can get stuck in your office when you want to drive back home. Think about the time that will be wasted to tow your car or to get your car jump started.
Are you an organized person? If not, then, designate a place in your house for your essential items such as your car keys, wallet etc., and put those things in their correct spot as soon as you get back home.
Even if you are not a very organized person, once you designate such a spot and practice this for a few weeks, it will become a second nature.
If you have small kids, make sure these designated spots are out of their reach. You can buy this inexpensive key holder from Amazon to hang your keys out of reach from your small children.
If you need to take specific items for special occasions (such as a metro pass when you want to ride the metro or directions to a new meeting location) make sure to assemble them the night before and put them along with another essential item such as your car key. This way you will not forget to take them when you leave your house the next morning.
By nature I am a night owl. I can stay late and work as much late as I want to.
This is a big problem because, I will be so tired the next morning and I will try to extract the last ounce of sleep when I try to wake up. Result, I will be late for work! So unless it is a Friday or Saturday, I will make sure that I get to bed in a reasonable time.
One additional reason to go to bed early is to make sure you are fully rested for the next day. You will be the most productive when you are fully rested after a good night’s sleep.
If you work with other people, then you very well know of the following issue.
You have a meeting that starts in 10 minutes. It is on the other side of the building which requires a five minutes’ walk. A colleague of yours just walked in and wanted to ask you a question. Being available to your colleagues is one thing and not becoming late for the meeting is another thing. Both are important issues.
Usually, I politely tell the colleague as soon as they walk in that I need to go for a meeting in 5 minutes. So if the discussion would take more than 5 minutes, I will offer to stop by their office as soon as I get back from the meeting. This way, my colleague is aware of my schedule and they can make an informed decision to talk to me for five minutes or to wait until I get back. This will also avoid cutting your colleague off after they started the conversation.
Finally, if you follow these steps, I can assure you that barring any unforeseen events, you won’t be late for anything anymore.
You will get in early for meetings and conferences. Once you arrive a few minutes early, having your pen and writing pad will allow you to effectively use that slack time.
You can plan for your day. Jot down ideas and to do lists. If you have a book or article, you can catch with your reading.
I always carry a pen and a few index cards in my pocket. This will give me enough materials to use during the slack time.
Hope you enjoyed this post. If this post was useful to you, why don’t post a comment?
Finally, before you leave, please review this info graphic summarizing everything that is described so far.