How to Stop Being Late & Get There On Time

How to Stop Being Late & Get There On Time

Are you running late again?

Do you find yourself making endless excuses for being chronically tardy to everything?

Have you ever missed an important meeting—or even a flight—because you just couldn’t get out the door on time?

Is your perpetual inability to get places on time hurting your business or even your social life?

learn to get there on time
It’s time to break the habit of being late. Even if you’ve always been one of those people who are chronically tardy, you can change.

I won’t lie; I’m sure it won’t be a piece of cake. But any new habit worth making is going to take some serious effort—and a desire to make the change.

And to help you get started, here are some steps to take to help you stop being late and start living your life on time.


Decide that it’s better to be early than late.

I know this is a tough one. If you are entrenched in tardiness, you need to change your mindset. While some people are just not good time managers, there are more than a few latecomers who believe that arriving early is a sign of weakness or submission—they are too important and their time is too valuable to spend waiting on anyone. In reality, arriving on time—or even early—is a sign of respect. It creates a great first impression, and you can use the time to gather your thoughts, review your notes or check your messages.

how to stop being late

Allow a Time Cushion—and Learn to Estimate Time Realistically.

Stuff happens. More stuff happens when you’re in a hurry. Whether you’re traveling across town or across the country, always allow yourself some extra time. The farther you have to go, the bigger your cushion needs to be. With Google Maps and GPS, there’s no excuse for not knowing about how long it will take you to reach your destination. Don’t wait until 30 minutes before your appointment to set off on your 45-minute drive.


Set Your Watch Ahead

It’s a simple trick, but it can work. As long as you don’t focus on the fact that you changed your watch and all your clocks, you’ll soon forget it was set ahead and give yourself a five-minute time cushion.


Use Your Smart Phone’s Calendar Reminders and Alarm Functions

Need help remembering it’s time to leave for a meeting or appointment. When you set an appointment, add it to your calendar and use the reminder function to set an alarm in plenty of time to get you there. As you learn to set the alarms, you also need to train yourself to respond to them. You can also use this method to make sure meetings end on time. To keep yourself from running over, set another alarm for the end time of the meeting. This will keep your meetings running smoothly and not end up with a backlog.


Avoid the Rush Hour

Everything we do has “busy” times of the day. Whether it’s commuting to work, going to the doctor or catching a flight, there are times of day when it’s going to be busier than others. Try and arrange your schedule to avoid those times of day. Arrange to start your workday either before or after the morning rush, schedule doctor appointments first thing in the morning when possible (and avoid Mondays—especially at the pediatrician), and pick off-times of day to catch a flight. Learning to strategize this way will help you avoid getting stuck in a backup and help keep your schedule running smoothly.

enjoy the benefits of being on time

Learn to Recognize the Benefits of Getting There On Time

As you break the habit of showing up late, you will begin to see the benefits of an on-time lifestyle. From lowering your stress level, to gaining the respect of your clients, associates and friends, as you develop the confidence that comes from feeling in control of your life and not like life is controlling you, you will find yourself happier, more productive and more successful.

And whenever you find yourself tempted to slip back into your old, tardy ways, just keep reminding yourself of those benefits.

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  1. OMG.. PET PEEVE.. for sure! Being on time is already LATE IMHO! I say that if you show up about 5-10 min early you are on time. AND when you are meeting with other people, it is just respectful to be early.. I hate when folks/me don’t show up on time… it’s RUDE!

  2. These are some great ideas, especially the timer. I don’t have this problem, but my husband does. I realize it’s a personality trait so I’ll never change him. But when he asks me what time we need to leave for something, I’ll tell him 10 minutes earlier because I know. LOL

  3. I confess that I have been guilty of running late. Usually it is only 5 minutes but I still get irritated with myself. And of course am not always forgiving of those who show up later than me! I don’t think setting the clocks ahead will help me but I like the setting the alarms option. Will do it!

  4. Great tips for those chronically running late. I tend to be right on time for most life events. I do try to show up early if I need to be somewhere for business.

  5. Thanks for sharing this. I schedule my time consciously and carefully and have not been tolerant of people who are generally late. If someone shows up late, its rare that I would make time for them again. I actually ended a friendship because of this. Time is precious.

    1. Marie Leslie says:

      I sometimes struggle with the chronically tardy too, Candess. I’ve learned to reserve judgment until I know the story, but I do tend to avoid doing business with people who can never get to an appointment even close to on time.

  6. I’ve worked in the entertainment industry for years, and we have a saying that’s apropos here. “If you show up early, you are on time. If you show up on time, you are late. If you show up late, you get fired.” Guess what I am? I’m chronically early! Great tips! I use many of these to keep me on time. People know that on the rare occasion that I am late that something real must have come up.

    1. Marie Leslie says:

      I am the same way, Jennifer. I learned that philosophy from my dad. I also have it ingrained in my brain somewhere that “5 minutes early is 10 minutes late.” Years of wedding photography have taught me how important it is to make sure I am there not only on time, but with a cushion of time to spare.

  7. Hahaha, I feel like you are directing this at me! Keeping to time is a problem I have and trying to get over it.I use my smart watch reminder all the time to help me overcome this. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    1. Marie Leslie says:

      It’s a challenging habit to break, Apolline. I commend you for recognizing it and working to overcome it. As long as you keep trying, it will get easier.

  8. Being late is one of my pet hates, if I can get out of the door on time with a 6 and 7 years old in tow, then a single person can.
    I hope this blog helps people out there.

    1. Marie Leslie says:

      I hear you, Sonya. The chronically tardy challenge me too. And at one time, I did have four kids at home to shepherd out the door with me.

  9. Dan & Laurie Neumann says:

    I think being prepared and starting early is important, especially to reduce stress/anxiety. I know I get anxious when I’m rushing around trying to get somewhere and I know it’s getting late. Good tips.

    1. Marie Leslie says:

      That early start definitely helps. I’ve also learned to increase my time cushion in proportion to both the weather and how far I have to go for an appointment.

  10. I am always late haha. I will be using these tips for sure! I like the idea of always avoiding travel at rush hour when possible. It’s stressful and it always makes my time cushion way off. Thanks for sharing!