How to be on time all the time

Making a habit of punctuality is one of the easy things you can do to give yourself time and tranquility to meet more complex skill-intensive challenges. There are a couple of facts that can’t be changed, so facing them is the best way to start dealing with them.

Fact #1: Getting out of bed is hard.

It is harder for some people than for others. It is harder at some hours than at others, but five, ten, fifteen, twenty, or thirty extra minutes in bed will not make it easier. Those extra minutes will, however, take a heavy toll on your peace of mind and effectiveness for the rest of the day. Getting enough sleep the night before goes a long way toward taking the edge off, but even if you’ve had a short and unsatisfactory night, you still must do what you have to do.

Fact #2: If you can get to where you need to be at any certain time, you can get there at another, earlier time.

Once you have faced and accepted those facts, here are some simple steps to take that will get you almost anywhere you need to be at a time that will help you accomplish everything else you want to do with a minimum amount of stress.

  1. Plan to get there a half-hour before the appointed time. If your check-in time is 8:00, tell yourself it is 7:30. If you must be at the airport at 4:00 for a 6:00 am flight, plan to be there at 3:30. (For me, 3:30, 4:00, and 6:00 are all dreadful times to be anywhere except in my warm bed, but the earlier hour gives me the advantage of peace of mind.)
  2. Be honest about how much time it takes you to feel comfortably and peacefully ready for the task ahead. Some people like to get up slowly, drink their coffee, have a leisurely shower and take their time getting groomed and dressed for every occasion. Others are crisp and quick and just as happy to take a five-minute shower and get breakfast on the way. My personal get-ready time is two hours. I like to enter the day slowly and take my time about everything. Plan for whatever feels better for you, and be honest with yourself.
  3. Plan your time on the road. Be realistic and even pessimistic about things like traffic jams or extra time that might be spent waiting for public transportation. Add fifteen minutes or more for unexpected complications such as a flat tire.
  4. Focus on the time you need to leave your starting point, NOT on the time you are supposed to be at your destination. Set your alarm accordingly, allowing yourself a generous amount of time to get ready and get there.

Getting out of bed at 3:00 am to board a 7:00 am flight or setting my alarm for 5:00 am so I can get ready to teach a 7:30 am class is hard, and I don’t like it one bit. However, choosing an On-Time Schedule makes it much easier than dealing with a Will-I-Make-It Schedule whenever I have a deadline to meet.

Being punctual won’t guarantee success, but it will enhance your reputation and free you from mishaps like discovering you left an important paper at home or, like a friend of mine, seeing too late that your shoes don’t match. (Fortunately, my friend was blessed with a great sense of humor.) With less stress about getting to work on time, you can focus on more challenging things.

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