As far as things we want to change about ourselves go, being more punctual tends to be high up on many of our lists. Unlike working out more or spending less money, constantly being late to everything actually affects the people around you more than it affects you. Yes, you may have been doing something incredibly important that made you late, but chances are the person you had a meeting time with has plenty of stuff they could have been doing too instead of waiting for you.
Now that the new year is finally here, resolution season can be the perfect motivator to really buckle down on that chronic tardiness that is so hard to overcome. I used to be late for everything when it came to casual affairs. I was the friend that was sending text messages saying, "almost there!" even when I just left the house five minutes ago. However, anytime I had an interview or it had to do with work, I would always be prepared and leave early just to make sure I was there on time. Since I clearly had the skills to be on time, I wanted to bring that discipline into my personal life, because I didn't like the stress it was causing me. With a lot of practice and a lot of failed attempts (sorry friends) I found out a way to be on time more in my personal life with these helpful tips below.
1. Think Ahead
When I'm trying to figure out what time I'll need to leave to get somewhere on time, I like to count backwards. For example, if you need to be at a place around four, you count back for the amount of time it will take you to get there. Then from there, count back further for how long it usually takes you to get ready. When you figured out that time, count back 10 more minutes (just in case!) and set an alarm for it. This is especially useful for an event that's happening towards the middle of the day, when you might be wrapped up in other projects and lose track of time.
2. Get Organized The Night Before
Whenever I know I have to be somewhere important, I always get organized the night before. I Google how to get to the address beforehand to give me an idea of how long the commute would be. I pick out my outfit. I have all my belongings (like keys, shoes, my purse, and any papers I need) in one place before I go to sleep. Once you have and know where everything is the night before, then you can wake up a little less stressed. Debra Condren, PhD, business psychologist and author of Ambition is Not a Dirty Word, agrees with this method: "Put your shoes by the door and your workout gear right by your bed so that in the morning when you're tired and groggy, you don't have to dig through your closet." It's foolproof, I promise.
3. Be More Realistic
Getting into the habit of being honest with yourself will allow you to be more realistic with your time. My boyfriend has this habit of thinking that he can get ready in 20 minutes or less, but in reality it pretty much always takes him at least 30. There's no shame in taking a while to get ready, but you do need to account for the time. Keep track of how long a typical morning takes you for a week, then account for that plus five to 10 minutes of wiggle room moving forward.
4. Give Yourself Extra Time
Sometimes, it pays to be a little pessimistic about how many unexpected things will come up during the day. According to Diana DeLonzor, author of Never Be Late Again, "Early people tend to be more cautious." That means assuming there will be an accident or trail delay or bad weather while you're trying to get somewhere. Always plan to show up early, rather than on the dot.
5. Know Where Your Weaknesses Are
Everyone has a weakness when it comes to getting ready. Some people take hours to get their hair done, while others take forever to pick an outfit. Once you are aware of what takes the longest, do that first — and way before you have to leave. For example, I try and pick out my outfit beforehand so I won't take hours to get ready. If you find yourself sucked into answering emails before you leave, try making that task the first thing you do when you wake up.
6. Don't Check Social Media
Whatever you do, don't use social media when you have someplace to be. According to Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD., a renowned cognitive neuroscientist and a professor of Neurology, Physiology, and Psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco, research is now proving that our brains cannot cope with the amount of information that we receive online. Plus, we all know the feeling of opening Twitter "just for a second" and getting sucked into a black hole of retweets.
Breaking the habit of being late all the time is only going to benefit your lifestyle for the future. You want to show people and your work that you care enough about their time to show up on time. It will take a lot of practice and planning, but once you start to implement that habit into your routine, it will become a part of you and soon you won't even know that old lifestyle anymore.