Are you frequently late? Or even chronically late? Are you late for something right now?
If any of those things are the case, you’re not alone. One in six American employees are late to work at least once a week. In slightly worse news, one in three American companies have fired an employee for lateness. If you fear that you may someday be subject to a lateness-related termination, don’t panic. Here are a few tips to help you get back on time, courtesy of the folks at Quartz:
Check your mental health:Being chronically late can have deep psychological drivers that go beyond having too much to do or underestimating traffic. Problems such as attention deficit disorder and obsessive compulsiveness—which often drive late-goers to spend needless time fixing crooked placemats or over-surfing the Internet—can be to blame.
Avoid over-scheduling your day: Society tends to reward busy overachievers. But the tendency for overachievers to over-schedule activities often leads to tardiness, according to DeLonzer. Pace yourself throughout the day and you’ll have a higher chance of making it to your next event on time.
Wake up earlier: A to-do list of small tasks—like figuring out what to wear, remembering important meetings, packing your keys and umbrella—can take up more time than you think, not to mention leave your mind frazzled when you have little time. According to a study by Harvard biologist Christoph Randler, waking up early can help you anticipate problems and minimize them.
Clear away distractions: Little distractions that go unnoticed can eat up a lot of time. These include leaving tempting snacks scattered around your home or work area, email alerts, social media feeds, and even mirrors. Yes, preoccupation with mirrors makes time go by faster than you think, which is why they’re placed next to elevators and other areas where you need to wait for a long time.
Don’t blame public transportation: A major benefit of living in a large metropolitan area is great access to public transportation. A major drawback: public transport is not always reliable. Only 77% of short-term trains in the US are punctual compared to 90% of those in Europe. To pre-empt this problem, factor in ample extra time before your departure.
Don’t fool yourself—you’re not that fast:Even meticulous planners overestimate their efficiency at completing tasks. The official term for that is the planning fallacy… Add 5 minutes onto even your most conservative time estimates.
Drop hints that it’s time to wrap up:Don’t let over-talkers squander your valuable time. If a manager, co-worker or friend is going on too long in conversation, there are subtle body cues that can politely signal that it’s time to go—gather your notebook and pen or slowly start standing, for example.
Own up to the problem: Sometimes being late is a foregone conclusion. When that happens, be courteous enough to call or text the person you’re scheduled to meet with to say you’re running late and how long you’ll be. Admitting fault can show strength, character, and leadership.
Hopefully this will help you get wherever you’re going on time, or at least help you figure out why you were late.
Are you a prompt person? Do you have tips and tricks to get places on time? Let us know in the comments.