How to Stop Being Chronically Late

businesswoman running
Photo: Getty
Here, 5 steps to getting places on time.

1. Find your weakness. Is disorganization the culprit (perhaps, you can never find your keys or wallet when it's time to go)? Do you hit snooze one (or eight) too many times? Or, have you just gotten lazy because you always get away with your tardiness? Your answer should make the next step obvious: Whether you create an orderly landing strip for keys, coats and wallets or start going to bed earlier so you aren't deliriously bargaining for five more minutes of shut eye every morning, figure out how you're going to address the problem.

2. Be realistic. Log all of your appointments -- social, business or personal -- in your phone's calendar or a day planner. And if you need to pick up TP on the way home from work, write that down too. What you see might surprise you: Is it even humanly possible to do everything you've written down in a single day? If not, prioritize and prune. Can you really meet a client for breakfast at 9am and still make it all the way across town by 10am? If not, change locales or times. Getting realistic about what you've really got time for will help you better plan your days, so you don't end up making everyone (including yourself) late.

3. Put the shoe on the other foot. Try to imagine how the person on the other end of the equation feels, whether it's your boss (who by the way, pays you to arrive on time, notices when you're early and really notices when you're late) or your best friend, who refuses to make plans with you anymore because she's sick of waiting. Put yourself in their shoes. Not cool, right? Bottom line: It sucks to be kept waiting—enough to in some cases, ruin relationships and even careers (you've heard how the early bird catches the word, right?). And don't assume that people don't mind just because they put up with your tardiness. Trust us, they do.

4. Be a negative Nancy. Stop planning as if you'll hit every green light on your drive to dinner, or that the subway will magically appear the second you step onto the platform. You should know by now that the universe doesn't play that fair. More often than not (and especially it seems when you're running late), trains are delayed, you get stuck behind a garbage truck or an accident causes traffic to build. A great rule of thumb to follow: Give yourself at least 15 minutes more than you think you'll need to get to wherever you're going.

5. Trick yourself. Yep, this is where we tell you to set your clock 10, 15, even 20 minutes ahead—whatever it takes to get you to work or your lunch date on time. Just be sure to change all your clocks, including your watch, alarm clock, the timer on the oven and even your phone and computer (yes, you can do that now). Of course, after a while you'll be on to yourself and just start deducting that 15 minutes or whatever it is. So change it up every week or so -- make sure your clocks 12 minutes off, then 16, then 24 -- you get the idea.