Why You’re Always Late & How to Start Being On Time

On Episode 085 of Productivity Paradox this week, I am exploring the concept of bending time as a way to bring ourselves into the present moment as much as possible each and every day.


When we fail to spend our time intentionally, we often open ourselves up to behaviors and habits that have a way of throwing a wrench into our entire day—especially in the workplace. We rack ourselves with anxiety because we feel that we don’t have enough time to finish tasks, so we force ourselves to rush from sunup to sundown…

But what does all of this rushing around do? It turns out, very little. Those that seem to be constantly on the go often report feeling like they struggle to keep up with their day. They jump out of bed and hit the ground running but still somehow show up late to meetings, procrastinate in the face of important deadlines – or worse, fail to meet those deadlines altogether…

And let’s face it: being late at work is never something that we feel good about.

So today, I want to share a few ideas with you on how to better manage your time so that you can stop rushing from one task to the next—allowing the quality or timeliness of your work to fall to the wayside, and can instead start focusing on spending your time with more intention so that you can nip your tendency for being late in the bud.


How to Start Being on Time


1. Beware of Planning Fallacy –

Sometimes called the optimism bias, we find ourselves with an unrealistic amount of work due to the planning fallacy. Basically, we tend to grossly underestimate how long tasks will take us to complete… and this can be huge when it comes to getting to work or meeting deadlines on time.

To combat this? Add buffers to your time. The general rule of thumb is to cushion yourself with 1 ½ times the amount of time that you think a task will take you to complete. If you think you only require 30 minutes to get ready for work in the morning, for example… give yourself some leeway by allotting 45 minutes instead.

Buffering our day not only reduces the likelihood of feeling like we have to rush from one thing to the next, but it also allows us the grace to bring ourselves into the present moment and to truly savor our experiences each day, thereby reducing the amount of stress we often feel otherwise.


2. Learn to Linger –

Advice about time management often involves saving time, spending time, wasting time, and doing the greatest number of things possible in the time you have. But what if we instead consider the idea of giving the important things the time they deserve by lingering?

Laura Vanderkam describes this idea in her book, Off the Clock, by looking at a family with multiple kids going to competitive sports practice. They used to be late and were often the last ones to arrive at practice… But they realized that if they could put everything in the car long before they needed to leave, and avoided trying to do one more thing before they left, they could actually be early.

So how can we cultivate this practice in the workplace? Simple.

Stop putting so much on your plate and really take into account how much you can get done in a day before you overload your schedule in the first place. And then, take it slowly… Not only will this reduce stress, but it will also allow you to stay focused on your most important tasks at hand, lessening the chances that you’ll be late or completely miss the mark on a big deadline.

Remember: we all have 168 hours available to us each week. Choose how you spend them wisely!


3. Separate the Urgent from the Important –

Often, we feel strapped for time because we try to cram too much into our day. To give our most urgent tasks the attention they require, we need to make time for them! What is important today, may be urgent tomorrow… so it’s imperative that we learn how to navigate our priorities at work as effectively as possible so that we don’t allow tardiness to become a habit.

When your tasks are separated into important and urgent, you are more likely to give focus to them and get them done as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to let non-urgent phone calls go to voicemail, or to answer that email that just cropped up in your inbox tomorrow, so you can concentrate on your tasks today.


4. Create an Evening Routine –

To me, having an evening routine is just as important as having a morning routine. If you struggle with chronic lateness in terms of getting to the office on time, then it may be because you are trying to tack on too much each morning.

To combat the tendency to rush in the morning, I encourage you to set up an evening routine for yourself. This could be as simple as laying out the clothes you plan to wear to work the next morning right before you go to bed, making sure that your work bag is packed and ready to go near the front door or in your car, preparing your lunch ahead of time, and so on.

Any task that you can do the evening prior will inevitably help streamline your morning before work… Give it a try!

What are some of your favorite time management tips and tricks for battling tardiness in the workplace? Share your experiences in the comments below… And check out Episode 085 of Productivity Paradox to learn a little bit more about bending time and how you can make it work for you!



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Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton