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8 Pretty Basic Things I Do To Always Be On Time

Remember: Early is on time, and on time is late.

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My parents had just a couple of house rules growing up, two of which were: always invite someone to your birthday party if they invited you to theirs, and always be on time.

These rules, along with the others, can be summed as "Always be a mensch." A

mensch can be a lot of things, but in our family, it boiled down to being decent to people — and being on time is a huge part of that. Incorporating my parents' guiding philosophy with the realities and responsibilities of being an adult can be a struggle at times, but by god, I will not be caught dead rolling into a 7 p.m. dinner at 7:10. I am a Punctual Person and I absolutely care who knows it! And since I've spent a decent portion of my adult life trying to make my parents proud (in this one very specific way), I'm going to share exactly how I do it:

1. To start, I count backwards from the time when I want to arrive somewhere.

Warner Bros. Pictures

I'm no mathematician, but I've gotten pretty, pretty, pretty good at counting in chunks of 10 or 15 minutes. Here's a classic example that only kind of makes me sound like my dad:

If my flight is at 7:30, I want to be at the gate by 6:45. That means I want to be at the airport by 5:45 so I have enough time to get through security and to my gate if I'm not checking my bag. In that case, I should leave at 4:45 in case there's traffic, so actually, I'll plan to be grabbing a cab at 4:30 in case that takes awhile.

This is obviously very involved because being late for a flight is a lot worse than being late for, like, coffee with a college acquaintance, but the same principles can — and should — be applied so that it becomes habit.

2. I pay close attention to how long things actually take.

There are so many semi-invisible factors that keep you from getting to the right place at the right time. As you glide on a plane of space and time, take close note of things that could hold you back, like how long it actually takes to bundle up for a cold winter day, or even waiting for your garage door to open. Those things add up!

In addition, remember that Google Maps doesn't tell the whole story. When the app tells you how long it'll take to get from point A to point B, it assumes you're leaving from the front door, ground level of point A, and doesn't take things like elevator waits and rides, or walks to the car into consideration. So spend a little time calculating all of these things so you don't underestimate yourself when you have to get someplace.


3. I put (some) order and systems into my life to make everything a little more efficient.


Just because I'm a punctual person doesn't mean I always have my shit together. But putting the teensiest bit of effort into making my life run smoothly helps me keep time on my side. For example:

• I always put things like my keys in the same spot so I don't have to waste precious minutes running around like a chicken with its head cut off as I look for them.

• I pick and lay out my outfits in advance, because ain't nobody got time to try on three different identical black sweaters on a Monday at 9:29 a.m.

• I pack up my purse with everything I need the night before, so it's all together, and so I don't realize I forgot anything halfway through the day.

• This is pretty public transportation specific, but I always keep my MTA card in my pocket or on the back of my phone so I can seamlessly swipe through the turnstile and not miss a train.

4. I accept that if I'm running late, I don't get to do absolutely everything I wanted to do.

Liz B / Girl Meets Bujo / Via

If you have to respond to a text, it can wait until you're already well on your way and on time. And yes, it would be great to stop at the post office on the way to lunch with a friend, but if you know you can only make that happen and still be on time if everything goes perfectly and without any sort of hiccups, just do it after you meet up. It's not always ideal, but it's better than the alternative (earning someone's enteral scorn for keeping them waiting).

5. In general, I pad my anticipated travel time with an extra 10 minutes or so.

Paramount Pictures

Just 'cause. It's like punctuality insurance. Most of the time, I don't need it, but when I run into an overly chatty high school acquaintance whilst frantically watching the clock run down, I'm glad I have it.

Relatedly, I don't fuck with time fractions. If Google Maps says it takes 16 minutes to drive to the movie theater, I tell myself it'll take 20. Rounding up — as opposed to breaking things down by the minute — gives me a little wiggle room in case things take a couple seconds or minutes longer than I expected, which they often do.

6. I set alarms. Lots and lots of alarms.

Terri Pous / BuzzFeed

Alarms: They're not just for you to curse at and ignore first thing in the morning! Alarms are a godsend for wannabe-punctual people. I've set a "Get out the door right now or you'll have to wait 15 minutes for the next train" alarm (have I mentioned how much I love the MTA?), and a "turn your straightener off" reminder so I don't waste time running back to check after I'm already out the door. These save me so much time and make my whole life more efficient (even though hearing my alarm not at wake-up time fills me with mild panic).

7. I eliminate any and all distractions.


Some days, I feel like I can't even cross my ~500 sq. foot apartment to get my shoes without stopping to respond to a text or click on a link someone just shared in the group chat. It's fun, but it's distracting and can really slow me down. So if the clock is running down, it's worth putting your phone in do not disturb mode so you can focus on getting your tush out the door in a decent amount of time.

8. Oh, and without fail, I always plan to be early.

Here's a lil' golden rule I try to live by: Early is on time, and on time is late. Short, sweet, and pretty much foolproof! If you're terminally late, just start lying to yourself on a regular basis. Got a doctor's appointment at 3? Guess what! It's now at 2:50! Is your job interview starting at 10 am? NO IT'S NOT, FUTURE EMPLOYEE, IT'S AT 9:45! That way, even if you're five minutes late based on the real time you were supposed to be there (which...have you learned nothing?), it's not as big of a deal. Unless you're meeting up with me. In which case, we're done.

What small things do you do to make sure you're always on time? Share in the comments!