5 tips to help you stop being late (or at least make you more honest about it)

Not bragging, but if being late was an Olympic sport, I (Julia) would win gold in every event. There’s a catch-all item “Where’s my wallet?/Phone?/Mask?/Keys?”, which I can always do. But I don’t just win the big ones – I’m also out there for lesser known projects like “This shoe is not practical, where are the good shoes” or “When judging travel time, let’s get the time-space continuum out of the way” bend”.

Being late can create stress ripples throughout the day — yours or someone else’s — and no matter which late Olympic event you’re participating in, we’ve got some news for you. Trying to be on time is the only real way to stop being late. (Unfortunately, no one is going to award you a medal for this, although I feel like I deserve a medal when I arrive even 5 minutes early).

Rashelle Isip is a professional organizer and productivity consultant, and she’s not one to be late, which is why we at Life Kit came to the interview site early(!) to ask her for some guidance.

Use punctuality as a way of showing respect
“I think being on time is very important,” Isip said. “We are not only interacting with others, but also with ourselves”. Being on time is showing respect for the people you meet, and it means you’re showing for yourself, Isip said.

“Punctuality can really reflect how much you respect your time and your own happiness. You can always let time pass, but once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.

Know that departure time is not equal to arrival time
If you’re chronically late, Isip said, one thing you can do to help yourself be more punctual is to plan ahead. She recommends setting yourself up for success by doing everything you can to ease the transition. So before you need to leave, pick your clothes, pack your bags, check directions, find your good shoes, and have your travel mug ready.

Another tip is to work backwards from when you need to be somewhere and allow yourself time for transitions. “How much travel time does it take to get to that place? By travel I mean everything — from where you left home [or] work,” Isip said. “There are a lot of steps that I think people just don’t think about.” So if you need to deal with traffic, or buy a subway card, or pick up flowers or print something, make time for those things.

Get used to getting up early
This may sound easy, but it’s one of the hardest questions for me personally. Getting somewhere early makes me super anxious. Isip promises that it’s actually okay to sit with that anxiety. For those who are often late, she recommends trying to change your relationship with time so that the 10 or 15 minutes before a meeting/dinner/appointment starts can be a time to gather your thoughts.

“We also have to be comfortable with the passage of time and if that means doing nothing at all or just waiting or taking a break,” she says. What could be the downside of sitting and collecting your thoughts for 10 minutes?

Try to tell yourself that you will in fact find something to do with your hands and that those 10 minutes that you’re waiting aren’t actually an entire hour, no matter how much it feels like it is. Think of it as a moment to catch your breath and give yourself a second to get settled.

Lateness can be local
“Different societies have different structures in place when it comes to lateness,” says Isip. What it means to be on time in Sao Paulo might be different from what it is in San Francisco. “If you’re not aware of that societal agreement , then you could end up in a situation where you might be embarrassed or you might be considered rude.” When you’re traveling, Isip says to check in with someone who’s more well versed in that culture.

“The thing that’s most important here,” she says, “is that honesty and being clear about, ‘OK, well, where are we? What type of rule or social custom or etiquette do we need to follow?’ “

Be honest about your tardiness
Everyone is late sometimes. Some people even invent Olympic events for all the ways that they are able to be late. Isip’s advice for folks who look at their watch and know the chances are good that they’re going for gold: Let folks know as soon as you can. “If you know you’re going to be late to something, the very best thing you can do is communicate right away. It’s not, thinking about it and then calling or texting 30 minutes later. It means right at that moment.”

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