Organisation and Productivity Personal Development

Punctuality 101: How To Be On Time for Everything

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I always have the best intentions to arrive early for things, but all too often, it just doesn’t happen. I end up running around last minute getting ready to go out, and I arrive at my destination with seconds to spare, or worse, late.

Can you relate to this? You’ll probably agree that always rushing around and being late is a stressful way to live. If you often find yourself arriving late for meetings, appointments and social events, then this post is for you. I will be sharing 13 tips for how to be on time for everything and become a more punctual person.

13 Tips To Help You Be More Punctual

How To Be On Time for Everything – 13 Punctuality Tips

1. Always allow more preparation time than you think you need

A common reason why some people are often late is that they underestimate how much time they will need to get ready. I am one of those people! Next time you need to go out, start getting ready half an hour earlier than you usually would. You might be surprised to find that by the time you are ready, it will be time to leave! Take note of how long it realistically takes you to get ready for things. Then make sure to allow at least that amount of time every time you go out.

2. Always allow more journey time than you think you need

It’s annoying getting stuck in traffic or behind a slow vehicle. However, these things are a regular part of being a driver and should be taken into account when you plan your journeys. Always allow extra time in case of these possibilities. For longer journeys, add even more time. If you are getting public transport, consider getting the earlier train or bus, in case of delays. By allowing extra time, even if you do get a little delayed it will not stress you out so much because you’ll hopefully still arrive on time.

3. Plan your journey in advance

If you are driving somewhere, make sure to look up the route and parking beforehand so you know where you are going. If you’re getting public transport, check the timetables and find out where the stops or stations are. Finally, check the traffic regularly before you leave, and check if there are any delays on public transport. This way, you will be prepared to leave earlier if needed.

A woman running along the platform to catch a train
Photo by Chris Wade on Unsplash

4. Check if you have enough fuel

I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been running late and then started my car and realised I need to get petrol. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of mentally checking if you have fuel before you go out (or physically checking if you can’t remember) so that you can leave earlier if necessary to go via the petrol station.

5. Use a SatNav or Google Maps

If you are driving, I recommend using your SatNav or Google Maps even if you are familiar with the journey. It will be able to redirect you to the fastest route if there is busy traffic anywhere. This could save you valuable minutes.

6. Set alarms to get ready

You might find it helpful to set some alarms at relevant times. For example, you could set an alarm for when you need to start getting ready (allowing plenty of time), and then a 15-minute warning, a 5-minute warning, and a final alarm when you need to LEAVE NOW (but even set that alarm for 5 or 10 minutes earlier than you absolutely NEED to leave). This will help you keep track of time and motivate you to get ready faster.

A woman checking her phone There is an alarm clock and a laptop in the background
Photo by Charlz Gutiérrez De Piñeres on Unsplash

7. Set up a reward system for being on time

Setting up a reward system will give you a real incentive to be on time. If you arrive, say, 10 or more minutes early for something, give yourself a reward. The easiest way to do this is to keep a note on your phone of how many rewards you have earned, in the form of points. You can decide for yourself what you can spend these points on. Maybe one point will buy you one snack, allow you an extra 10 minutes lie-in, or allow you to watch one YouTube video – whatever motivates you. It works best if you only allow yourself to do those designated things in exchange for a reward point.

You could have bigger rewards the earlier you are, for example, if you are 20+ minutes early you could get 2 reward points. If you want, you could also instate ‘punishments’ for being late, such as taking an existing but ‘unspent’ reward point away.

8. Bring or plan something to do if you are early

The only disadvantage to arriving early for things is that you can end up hanging around waiting beforehand. Turn this into an advantage by planning something to do in that time. For example, you could bring a book or magazine to read or reply to some emails on your phone. Then you won’t get bored or feel like you are wasting time when you arrive early. This in itself could provide an incentive to get ready and leave early.

Related post: 20 Productive Things To Do When You Are Waiting In The Car

9. Get good at getting up early in the morning

If you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, you might find yourself being consistently late for morning commitments. If you can master getting up early, you will have more time to get ready in the morning and you’re less likely to be late. There are many things you can try to help you get up earlier, such as a sunrise alarm clock, sleep app or simply going to bed earlier.

Related post: My Bedtime Routine For A Good Night’s Sleep

A woman stretching as she wakes up in bed
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

10. Tell people you are trying to improve your punctuality

If you tell someone in your household you are trying to be more punctual, they will be able to help and support you. Ask them to give you a push to hurry up and get ready when needed. You could even let them know your timetable or write things on a household calendar. As a bonus, they might help you get ready, which will also speed things up. Tell your friends too – they will ask you how things are going and help you stay on track with your punctuality goals.

11. Arrange to chat with someone when you arrive

If applicable, make casual arrangements with someone else who is going to the same place or event. Tell them you will be there at such-and-such a time and arrange to have a chat and catch up before it starts. That will motivate you to be early because you want to keep your word, and not keep the other person waiting. Keep your arrangements casual though, in case you get held up and have to miss them (but you still stand a better chance of being on time for the main event!)

12. Pack your bag in advance

I recommend packing your bag the night before, or at the start of the day. You can also pick out an outfit. Basically, do as much preparation as you can in advance so that it won’t take you so long to get ready just before. It will also reduce your chance of hitting any last-minute snags to slow you down, such as an “I can’t decide what to wear” dilemma.

A pink handbag with various items spilling out of it - a phone, notebook, pen and book. The bag is surrounded by grey cushions.
Photo by LEISARÀ on Unsplash

13. Don’t schedule things too close together

Where possible, don’t schedule appointments and commitments too close together. Even if you think you have enough time to get from one place to the next, allow an extra half hour. Then if something runs late or you get held up in traffic or delayed in some way, you’re less likely to be late for your next thing.

You might think it’s more time-efficient to schedule things back-to-back, but it’s not worth it. It might work out sometimes, but hold-ups happen surprisingly often and you will inevitably sometimes be late, and that will be stressful. A spaced-out day will be more relaxed. If you end up with gaps, it means you can get a cup of tea, read a book, and generally have a break. It’s a much more relaxing way to live!

Related post: 6 Simple Time-Saving Hacks For Your Daily Life

How’s your punctuality?

I hope this post has given you some useful tips for how to be on time, and to create a more relaxed and stress-free life in the process. Is punctuality your strong point, or do you struggle to be on time? Are there any other methods you use to help you be on time? Let me know in the comments below!

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Punctuality 101: How To Be On Time for Everything

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