Learning to be punctual is an essential part of being an adult. However, life can get in the way and make it easy to end up running behind. Still, there are people who never seem pressed for time who seem to have their schedule down to an exact science.
How do they do it? If you’ve found yourself wishing you could be on time more often, here are 12 habits that keep the chronically punctual on their A-game:
Rather than giving themselves 10 minutes to travel to somewhere that typically takes 10 minutes to travel to, punctual people factor in things that could make them late during their commute times. Flat tires, fender benders, and train delays happen, but punctual people let the mere possibility of these things happening inform what time they leave.
Living on the cusp is fun in theory, but it can be a hassle if you’re trying to be on time. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what you to wear or searching for you keys moments before walking out the door, you know that figuring out these things at the last minute can make you late. If you have your keys ready to go on their hook and have your outfit set out for you before it’s time to go, the chances of being late decrease.
One quick way to improve your chance of being on time is to check for things that could potentially make you late. If you know construction is happening on a certain road or that a train is skipping your stop because of station renovations, you can factor these barriers in and add even more additional travel time. Though not every delay can be planned for, at least knowing what you’re up against can make getting to your destination smoother.
Writing down appointment and event times means that they don’t sneak up on you. Punctual people avoid being caught off-guard and having to rush by keeping a schedule that makes running late because of plain forgetfulness a non-option.
Being the first person to arrive means that you get used to having a few moments to yourself. Whether this time is used for catching up on a book or responding to emails, punctual people know that getting out of the door quickly can leave them with ‘me time’ that’s stress-free. That's a big enough motivator to get anywhere a bit early.
Early morning appointments don’t phase people who enjoy regular sleep. Arriving anywhere on time after only getting a few hours of sleep is bound to be difficult, so establishing a regular bedtime helps punctual people from falling tardy.
Many people (myself included) have horror stories about waking up late as the result of technical difficulties involving their alarm. Accidentally setting a phone alarm to ring in the PM instead of AM, or having batteries in a wind up clock die overnight, can lead to an unintentional sleep in. The best way to avoid this is to set alarms from multiple devices, such as a cell phone and a digital clock, so that if one fails, the other one has you covered.
Putting things off until the last minute means that you have to squeeze in what you need to get done. When you have to rush, you can easily find yourself being tardy. By sticking to a schedule and ensuring that time is managed responsibly and effectively, people who are consistently on time avoid the last-minute panic that can contribute to tardiness.
Measure twice, cut once. Rather than trusting that they’ve set their alarms correctly, punctual people double check their alarms to make sure they haven’t made an error.
The snooze button can be a dangerous thing. By delaying the time you get up, you can fall back into a deeper sleep that can lead to tardiness. Rather than risk having this happen, people who are always on time avoid letting sleep time bleed into the time it takes for them to get ready and head out.
Most people, even the most consistently on time, have been late for something at least once in their lifetime. The difference between the chronically on time and the chronically tardy is that those who are always on time learn from their mistakes and correct their behavior moving forward. If they show up late somewhere because a bus arrived 10 minutes behind schedule, they learn to give themselves a larger time window to account for this possibility in the future.
Thoughts impact actions. Experiencing the frustration of someone being late or facing a consequence as a result of tardiness can make being on time an incredibly important value. When people contemplate why being late is a problem and how it can negatively impact themselves and others, being on time regularly becomes an easier task.
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets anthology.