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Updated on Nov 14, 2019. Posted on Dec 21, 2018

16 Tips That'll Help You Finally Be On Time For Everything

Consider building 20 minutes worth of laying on your bed in a towel post-shower into your schedule.

If you're looking at the year ahead and thinking, "Hmm, what personal goals can I set for myself?" I have a suggestion for you: try being on time for everything.

If you're already a punctual person, then great! But a lot of people aren't, and a lot of those people are wondering how TF other people make it places on time, let alone early. As a type-A person who shudders at the concept of showing up even 30 seconds late, I have some little tips that could turn you into an on-time person before you know it:

1. Be OK with the idea that you'll spend time waiting.

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The secret of punctual people is that they spend a lot of time waiting, whether it's reading in the car, or playing Candy Crush on their phone inside the restaurant. That extra time goes by surprisingly quickly, and if you save a good article to read or crossword puzzle to work on during that extra time, it won't feel like a waste of time, I promise. Better to spend it doing something mildly enjoyable than trying to do one more thing/panicking about being late.

2. And just in case, look up places in the area you'll be where you go to kill some time.

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Find the local bookstore/coffee shop/boutique and jump in there if you overcorrect for your lateness and get really good at showing up to stuff early.

3. Always have a clock in view while you're getting ready.

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You know, so you literally don't lose track of time.

4. Or set your clock a few minutes ahead to really light a fire under your ass.

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This sounds extreme and a little like self-gaslighting, but if that's what it takes, then hey! Why not?

5. Figure out what it is that makes you late.

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There are so many factors that could be at play in your tardiness. Is it lack of focus? Disorganization? Just...general slowness? Really pay attention to your whole process, take notes, and maybe a culprit will emerge that you can work with or around.

6. Clock exactly how long it takes to do things that are part of your usual getting-ready schedule.

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Time how long it takes to do your makeup, time how long it takes to walk to your car from the door of your home, time how long an elevator ride (and the wait for it) takes. All of those little elements can multiply into a long delay if you don't realize they take a while.

7. And, y'know, it's OK if you want/need time to loll around — you just have to schedule it in or get up earlier.

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Lolling! Takes! Time! I won't tell you not to do your thing, but if it starts affecting when you get into work or show up for appointments, you might want to consider building in 20 minutes worth of laying on your bed in a towel post-shower.

8. Also, add on 15 extra minutes to your commute time as a buffer, just in case.

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That'll help account for unexpected traffic or transit delays, as well as your own personal setbacks, like losing your keys or whatever else may befall you.

9. Once you've calculated the time it takes you to get places or get ready, round that number up to the nearest 10.

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People who are perpetually late often think in exact minutes — they are the ones who will tell you "it's a seven minute drive" instead of saying "it's 10 minute drive." But cutting it that close means you have no wiggle room (and that you're probably using that extra three minutes to squeeze in a task you don't really have time for).

10. Use Google Maps or whatever navigation app you prefer, even if you know exactly how to get where you're going.

Google Maps

It's easy to say, "Oh, it takes 10 minutes to get from my house to that place with the cheese," but it's hard to know for sure if you don't map it out. (Plus, a map app will tell you if there's any traffic along the way.)

11. Count backwards from the time you want to be where you're going.

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I'm no mathematician, but I've gotten pretty decent 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.

12. Lay out everything you'll need out in advance.

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Whether you do it the morning of or the night before, make a little time to put your keys someplace you instinctively look for them, set out your outfit, put everything you need into your bag or purse. Order! Efficiency! Hustle!

13. Set a shit ton of alarms.

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All. Of. The. Alarms! You can set a "Get out the door right now or you'll have to wait 15 minutes for the next train" alarm, and a "turn your straightener off" reminder so you don't waste time running back to check after I'm already out the door. Or you can set "If you don't get out of bed now, you can't do your eyebrows" alarm. Whatever works. Alarms are free.

14. Get off your phone.

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Want to know why you're late? It's 'cause you're always on that phone. No but really, stopping to send non-essential texts or read tweets or post your 🔥 selfie is for sure related to why you're rollin' up to work late on a semi-regular basis. Set your phone on do not disturb, put it someplace near your door, pick it up on your way out, and do all that other stuff in that extra time you'll get from showing up early! See what I did there?

15. Make it a priority.

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I recently read something that said, "It's not that you're busy, it's that it's not a priority," and that absolutely blew my mind. As with any goal, if you start thinking of something like being on time a priority, than you can start living your life accordingly, and actually doing the damn thing.

16. And above all else, just plan to be early.

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There's an old saying that goes, "Early is on time, and on time is late." I know that sounds extremely metal and unforgiving, but it's actually a great rule of thumb, especially if your internal clock is slower than most. Whatever time you're supposed to be someplace, just tell yourself to be there five or 10 minutes before that — you'll be amazed at how nice it is to not be scuttling in someplace late, word vomiting apologies.

As we head into the new year, we're talking about all the ways to make your life and the world around you a little bit better. Read more Do Better 2019 content here.