Being punctual is a big deal, and it should be a priority. Getting where you need to be on time projects a sense of purpose, organization and the feeling of responsibility. On the other hand, always being late shows others you lack self-control and respect.
Being punctual also shows that you value the time of others, and it sends a message that they’re at the top of your priority list. This is extremely important when it comes to business meetings, job interviews or even just meeting a friend for a coffee. Arriving late can cost you your job, or a potential job, and damage a relationship.
A lack of punctuality may stem from a number of factors. It can be the result of disorganization in your life, specifically your household, or a tendency to become easily distracted. You may even enjoy the thrill of cutting it close. Whatever the reasons, there are a number of things you can do to become more punctual and enjoy all of the benefits such a change will make in your life.
Make punctuality a top priority
This may seem like an obvious step, but many people suffer from a lack of punctuality because they don’t consider it to be important. Constant tardiness isn’t funny or quirky, and it’s not cool to be “fashionably late.”
Thus, the first step to developing a punctual frame of mind is to give it the importance it deserves. From now on, no matter how trivial the appointment, make it your goal to get there well ahead of time. Once you get into the habit of this, the rest should be easy.
Explore the reasons why you want to be punctual
Kicking an ingrained habit requires understanding the reasons you wanted to abolish that habit in the first place. Sit down and make a list of the benefits to being punctual. These could include improved relationships, reduced stress and anxiety, respect from work colleagues, a possible promotion, nailing a job interview, and showing people that you care about their schedules.
The more reasons you can identify as to why being punctual is important, the easier it will be to make it a priority. And when you find yourself slipping back into your old habit of arriving late, revisit those benefits and they’ll help provide the motivation you need to keep at it.
Thin out your to-do list
One of the key reasons you’re late all the time could be because you have far too much on your plate, and it’s simply unrealistic that you can make it to every appointment on time. Sit down, get out your calendar or schedule, and go through it with a fine-tooth comb. Ruthlessly remove anything that doesn’t need to be there, and don’t be afraid to say “no” to someone or something in order to free up time for the really important appointments. Give yourself plenty of buffer time before and after appointments and tasks so you’re not always rushing from one thing to the next.
Record how long it takes to complete tasks
More often than not, we don’t realize how much time it takes to complete basic tasks, like getting ready for work or cooking dinner. It’s a fact of life that things almost always take longer than we expect, so if you want to make punctuality a priority, you need to be realistic about timing.
Over the course of the week, record how long it takes to do things. For example, write down how long it takes each morning to shower, get dressed, have breakfast and get ready for work. Then record how long it takes to commute to work. Then how long various tasks at work take, and so on. Getting an idea of how long each task takes means you can restructure your schedule to allow sufficient time for your various activities, and greatly reduce the chance of being late.
If you’re not a very organized person, make a real effort to prepare in advance for appointments or meetings so that you’re not getting ready at the last minute. If you struggle getting ready for work in the morning, make preparations the night before, including making your lunch and doing most of the groundwork for breakfast, choosing the clothes you’re going to wear the next day, and placing your work bag and car keys right by the door. Doing this takes the stress away from making appointments, and you’ll thank yourself for it when the time comes.
Keep at it! The key to breaking a habit is repetition. It may seem hard at first, but it’ll get easier over time, and soon you’ll be the punctuality guru!
Liivi is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and is training to become a doula. She inspires women to find peace and personal power by taking control of health and fertility naturally. Liivi‘s passion is ancestral nutrition and primal lifestyle design. She and her partner Will live between Toronto, Canada and Queenstown, New Zealand.