Are you someone who can’t be on time to any function no matter how hard you try? Maybe you’ve lost a job due to chronic lateness or you don’t speak to old friends any more because you missed to many events. Being unreliable is a problem at all levels, and being late to work can be really bad for your career. Learning to be on time may not be as complicated as you think. Consider these three tips to help you stick to a schedule.
1. Think backwards and start earlier.
When do you have to be to work or in that meeting? How long will it take you to drive there? How long does it take you to get ready? A 30-minute commute doesn’t mean you can leave your house with 29 minutes to arrive. You don’t have all the time in the world, so set an alarm and create a schedule. More importantly, stick to it. Don’t get distracted by things that aren’t going to help you arrive on time.
Once you determine each of the steps you must take to prepare for work or an important meeting, pad the time to ensure you have enough time for unforeseen circumstances. Even if you look at a clock and think you have plenty of time to add a new task, avoid the temptation. If you only give yourself enough time to arrive, you may lose time to things you didn’t expect.
2. Make a sandwich.
This isn’t literal. Yes, bringing your lunch to work will be more efficient to buying lunch every day, but that’s not what this is about. A sandwich of time is important whenever you’re scheduling meetings or tasks. For example, if you have an interview at 10 in the morning, you can’t walk in the door at exactly 10. You need to arrive early, ideally about 15 minutes, to collect yourself and be able to observe the office around you.
It’s just as important to set time after a meeting. If you believe the interview will last an hour, don’t schedule another appointment at 11. If it goes longer, you will be stressed about leaving. It can negatively impact the way you interact with them at the end.
3. Control what you can.
People who are chronically late share common characteristics. For example, you may feel resentful you need to be in traffic for an hour. This negative thought creeps into your morning routine and makes you leave with only 30 minutes to spare when it was always going to take an hour to arrive. This is self-defeating behavior and will never serve you in a positive way.
It’s just as important to learn to say no. While you may not be able to say no to work commitments, you can free up other time in your life by saying no to things that eat into your ability to be on time. Changing your attitude from “I’m too busy” to “that’s not my priority” can help you make better choices with your time.