The Ultimate Remedy for Lateness — How to Be on Time for Everything

Being on time can seem like an impossible task for those of us who have a habit of being late. But it isn’t as hard as it seems.

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Are you tired of being late for everything? In this post, I’ll give you 12 easy but effective tips to be on time for everything.

As someone who has earned a terrible reputation for being late for everything (definitely not boasting here), I know what it’s like to be late, what it’s like to hate being late, and how hard it is to change.

Over the years, I’ve faced the consequences of being late and learned why it is important to be early.

Related: Why you should always be early

These experiences led me to set out on a journey of discovering how I could be more punctual.

I haven’t mastered it yet, but I’ve learned some things here and there that actually help.

I’ll share them all with you in this post.

You can join me on this journey and we can become early birds together!

How to be on time for everything

Below are 12 easy tips you can use anytime you have to leave your house.

Do them daily and they’ll eventually become habits.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This is for beginners after all.

Please note

I use the word ‘morning’ a lot because this is the time most people have to leave the house for work, class, etc. But if you have to somewhere to be in the afternoon or night, these tips will still work!

Get a good night’s rest

We are often late for things because we go to bed late and don’t get enough sleep.

Going to bed late means you’re more likely to wake up late, so you start your day late and it’s like a domino effect from then on.

So, when it comes to being early, don’t underestimate the power of getting a good night’s rest.

be on time
tired winnie the pooh GIF by good-night

Not only will you get an earlier start to the day, but you’ll also be able to think more clearly and be more efficient.

If you have trouble getting into bed or falling asleep check out this post on
how to go to bed earlier.

Plan, plan, plan

This is super important if you’re trying to be punctual.

Planning is great because it prevents you from being a last-minute person.
(And we all know ‘the last minute’ is never enough time.)

One definition of ‘plan’ that I like for this tip is ‘to have in mind’ or to ‘intend’.

As soon as you find out you need to be somewhere at some time, start asking yourself some questions:

  • What am I going to wear?
  • How will I get there?
  • What do I need to bring?
  • What can I do in advance?

Even if you may not write your answers down (although you should), simply having them in mind will help you out a lot.

That way you can start making arrangements that can save you time on the actual day of the event.

Some things you can do in advance are:

  • plan your outfit(s) – you can even do this from the beginning of the week!
  • pack your bag
  • meal prep for breakfast
  • pack a lunch
  • secure important documents like your passport, portfolio, or assignment(s)
  • fill up your gas tank

Once you start thinking ahead, you’ll find that there are lots of things you can do in advance in order to save time.

You don’t have to wait for the last minute.

Another great thing about planning is that it allows you to solve (potential) problems early.

For instance, you’ll notice that your white shirt has a stain, that your jeans need to be washed, or that you misplaced a document and need to find it BEFORE it’s actually time for your to leave the house.

Lay out everything you need the night before

This is a simple but very effective tip for being early.

Once you’ve planned everything you need, you need to lay it all out the night before.

Iron your clothes if you need to, and use hangers to hang it in a secure place, put out your shoes, pack your bag, put your car keys by the door, etc.

The point is to organize everything you will need and to ensure it is easily accessible for the next day.

Here’s how doing this will help you to be early:

  • you won’t waste time looking for what you need in the morning
  • you’ll get ready faster and will be less stressed
  • it gives you the opportunity to notice and correct any problems (like stains) that you may not have noticed before
  • you’ll feel more confident knowing your shoes and clothes are clean

Leave time for travel

Even if you have a good idea of how long it takes to get from Point A to Point B (like your dorm to class or your home to work), there are lots of things that can lengthen your journey.

Traffic jams, construction and accidents are just a few common examples. And, if you live in a tropical place like I do,  you probably know that even the rain can make you late!

Because traveling can be so unpredictable, it’s important that you leave enough time for it.

What I mean is that if you need to be somewhere at 9 am and it takes you 15 mins to get there, leaving home at 8:45 is cutting it wayyy too close.

Leave your house earlier to give yourself 5 to 10 extra minutes for traveling.

Some days you’ll need it and arrive just in time and some days you won’t need it, but you’ll be super early.

Have a game plan for hair and makeup

If you tend to be late, having a game plan for hair and makeup is essential.

If you’re running late, your game plan would entail lots of other things, but in this scenario, we’re assuming that you still have a chance of being early.

When being early is absolutely crucial (like for a flight, exam or interview, for example), you may want to reconsider going for a fancy hairstyle or makeup look.

Take the time to learn some cute but simple hairstyles you can do in a few minutes. Set a timer and practice them if you have to.

The same goes for makeup. When you get the chance, give yourself about 10 mins or less and see what looks you can come up with.

You can choose any hairstyle and makeup look you like, just be sure it’s quick, easy and you’re confident with how you look.

You can read more about why you need a game plan and what it should entail in my post: 10 things every late person needs

Do the most important thing first

This is CRUCIAL.

Think about it like this: if you don’t do the most important thing first, it means you’re doing it second or last

That’s stating the obvious, but it gets the point across that this simply isn’t good enough. The most important thing should always take priority.

Identify the most important thing you need to do in order to leave the house.

Ask yourself: if  I had to leave home in the next five minutes, what must I do before I leave?

Whatever it is, do that FIRST.

Do it before anything else, especially before you check social media or emails.

Here’s some advice my mother gave me:

If you have some time before you need to leave, like a couple of hours, don’t spend that time lounging around and then have to rush once it’s getting close to the time to leave.

Instead, it’s a good idea to shower early and, if you can, do your hair and makeup. 

Once that’s out of the way, you can do some other things as you wait for the time to go by. That way, when it’s time to leave, you can simply get dressed and waltz out the door.

Stress not included.

Learn how long you need to get ready

Take a day or two to time yourself as you get ready to get a good idea of how long you need before you can leave the house.

This is important because it allows you to make any necessary changes to your routine in order to be on time.

For instance, if you find that getting ready takes you an hour or more, you have two options: either wake up earlier so you have more time or cut your routine!

It’s your choice.

Alarms are your friends

They’re the ‘with friends like these who needs enemies’ kind of friends… but they help.

Other than a traditional alarm clock you can use to help you wake up early, you can use a phone alarm to help you get out of the house on time.

Personally, I HATE those phone alarms, particularly those that vibrate. I don’t know why but I can’t stand them.

So whenever I have to be somewhere in a few hours, I like to set lots of vibrating alarms.

It’s not about torturing myself, it’s about getting myself to act.

And it really helps.

I use alarms as ‘checkpoints’.

For example, if you need to be somewhere at 2 PM, you can set an alarm for when you should be dressed, an alarm for when you should leave the house, and a final alarm for the latest possible time you can leave in order to be early.

Some good reasons to set alarms are because they:

  • remind you of what the time is without you needing to constantly check your phone
  • help you stay focused on being early
  • they prevent you from spending too long on one particular task
  • let you know when a certain time is approaching in advance

Becomes best friends with time

Time is not the enemy.

If you’re trying to be early, you don’t just need to be friends with time, but best friends.

Think about your good friends — you check up on them and you understand what they mean when they say or do certain things.

Treat time the same way.

Check the time often and understand that 5 minutes means 5 minutes and not 15.

Doing this will make you more aware of the time and as a result, you’ll manage it much better.

A great way to become more aware of the time is to get a watch and a clock and then set them up for optimal use. You can read more about that here.

Get organized

be on time
Confused Mess GIF by Samm Henshaw

Having to look for what you need is a great way to be… late!

Try to organize your space so that you know exactly where everything is. Have a dedicated place for everything, particularly important items like your keys or documents.

You can also read more about this in my post 10 things every late person needs.

Sometimes, impromptu meetings or appointments come up, and you may not have had the chance to lay out what you need the night before. If everything is organized, that will be no problem.

Being organized isn’t just good for being early. It spills over into other aspects of your life and will even help you to be less stressed.

Aim to get there at least 15 minutes earlier

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of ‘early’ is ‘before the beginning of a period of time’ or ‘before the usual or expected time’.

Therefore, we can conclude that to arrive ‘just on time’ is to arrive exactly at the beginning of whatever it is you needed to be at.

So there’s a big difference between being early and being just on time.

Which do you want to be?

Although I struggle to do so, I personally think the goal should always be to be early. To be early, you should aim to get to your destination at least 10 minutes before you need to.

Two important tips for being on time

Be efficient and don’t be slow

These go hand in hand.

To be efficient is to do what you have to do without wasting time.

One definition of slow is ‘requiring a long time’.

So, we can conclude that when you are slow, you tend to waste time.

No matter how early you wake up and how much you want to be on time, you still run the risk of being late if you’re slow and inefficient.

However, I know it isn’t always easy to recognize when you’re doing either.

Here are some things tend to slow us down and waste our time:

Social media

We all know social media can be a big distraction and a huge thief of time. So when you’re getting ready, avoid it like the plague.

Multitasking

It’s easy to think that we’re getting more done when we multitask, but it’s quite the opposite. When you’re tempted to multitask, think about this quote:

“To do two things at once is to do neither”

Publilius Syrus

Taking too long in the bathroom

We can easily lose track of time in this room. We do this by taking long showers or using our devices when on the toilet.

be on time
liza koshy boss GIF by Beats By Dre

Disorganization

As we spoke about before, being disorganized will make you late.

When you have to look for everything you need, you waste time and get unnecessarily stressed out.

Perfectionism

Trying to get your hair or makeup to look perfect can definitely slow you down.

When being early is crucial, you have to accept that some things are good enough.

Indecisiveness

Having trouble deciding what to wear is a sure way to waste time. This is why planning is important!

Listening to music

As much as I hate to admit it, singing or listening to music when getting ready can definitely slow you down.

A really awesome playlist is a great way to boost your mood and confidence before you head out the door, but it can also be a distraction, especially when you like to sing and dance along.

So, when you don’t have much time before you need to leave, avoid listening to music.

If you really want to listen to something, try a podcast or wordless audio like classical music or lo-fi.

Watching videos

I sometimes like to watch tutorials as I get ready, but I know it slows me down.

If you need to follow a tutorial for a particular hair or makeup look, try practicing before hand, so you don’t need to depend on the tutorial.

Conclusion

Being on time can seem like an impossible task for those of us who have a habit of being late.

But lateness is not a terminal illness, and you’re not a hopeless case.

By following the strategies and tips in this post, you’ll find that being early isn’t as hard as it once seemed.

Do these tips every time and you’ll be on your way to being early for everything.

For more tips and strategies for managing your time,  subscribe to my newsletter!

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