Early, On Time, and Late: A Guide to Being Punctual

There is a common saying about being on time that, “Five minutes early is on time; on time is late; and late is unacceptable.” This quote is a motto for many when it comes to punctuality and time management. Learning how to be on time is a valuable skill for people of all ages to know. It comes in handy for important meetings, deadlines, events, etc.

Recently, I came across the article, titled as the quote above, by Brent Beshore on forbes.com. Beshore explains how being late to anything is unacceptable. He notes that a person’s punctuality reflects back on her and that when you are late, you can be considered disrespectful, inconsiderate, overly-busy, and disorganized. While emergencies happen, things occur that we can’t control and sometimes being late is unavoidable, it should never become a habit. You don’t want to become known as “the person who is always late to any event.” If you are that person or have a habit of being the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, who is constantly running because you are late, continue reading the advice below to help you create a new habit of being on time or early!

  1. This tip is one I do almost every day. I count time backwards. Start with the time you need to leave the house or be at a certain place, such as work. Then, think about how long it will take you to get ready and complete various tasks. For example, you need to be at work at 7:30 am. So, break it down.

7:30 am – Arrive at work.

7:15 am – 5-minute drive from your home to the office.

7:05 am – Gather the items you need for the day.

6:50 am – Eat breakfast and pack your lunch.

6:15 am – Shower, put on your makeup, and get dressed

6:00 am – Wake up.

By counting time backwards, you are able to determine exactly when you need to wake up or start a task to finish or arrive at a certain time. Prioritize what is most important when getting ready for anything and always include extra time for the unexpected. In the example above, you may have noticed the drive to work is only 5 minutes, but 15 minutes is allotted. This extra time is added in case something happens that you can’t control, such as traffic, needing to stop for gas, etc. Also, the extra time will give you more time to relax.

  1. Prepare beforehand. Whether it is a meeting, major deadline at work, or a birthday party you are hosting, always try to do most of the prep-work before the event. From experience, I fully understand how this piece of advice will save you stress in the long run. Create a schedule of everything you need to complete and work on it a little at a time. Think about it in terms of studying for a test. Cramming for a test means you probably aren’t going to do well, and the same thing goes for being on time. Cramming at the last minute for something can cause more headaches than enjoyment.
  2. Simplify and organize. This tip works well with #2, preparing beforehand. If you are rushing out the door each morning to get to work on time, lay out what you need the night before. Go ahead and get everything you need for your outfit, make your lunch, and put your work materials into your briefcase before going to bed. That way, when you wake up, you aren’t losing time, trying to gather what you need. Also, have a designated place for everything. Always keep your keys in a basket by the front door or always place your lunchbox in the same spot on the counter. These reserved spots will help you get in the habit of looking for what you need in a certain spot and will give you a sense of reassurance in being prepared. Lastly, organize your week on the weekends. Many people meal prep on Saturday or Sunday, or plan out their activities for the next five days. Create a schedule that works for you. If working day by day on your punctuality helps you be on time, great! If working week by week is best, awesome! Develop a habit that fits you and keep in mind it may take a little bit of time for all the kinks to get worked out.

Being on time and learning how to manage your time can be tough, but it is something everyone needs to be able to do. You just never know what you’ll miss out on when you are late.


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