How To Stay On Time When You’re Always Running Late

How To Stay On Time When You're Always Running Late
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Who needs to go to the gym when you burn most of your calories running…late.

Knowing you’re on a tighter schedule than you’ve planned (or didn’t plan) on is hurried (obviously), stressful, and always seems to leave you feeling like you’ve forgotten something.

I almost always find myself leaving my room later than planned for class, work, or to meet someone for dinner. Despite this, I’m hardly ever actually late; in fact, I’m usually early, sometimes even ridiculously so.

If you can’t seem to stop being not-so-fashionably late, keep reading for eight ways to help you stay on time, even when all hope seems lost!

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1. Review your day the night before.

Knowing what you have going on will help you actually know where you have to be throughout the day and when. How can you plan when to get up if you don’t know where you’re supposed to be headed?


2. Know how long it truly takes you to do things.

After all, you can’t even make time a question if you don’t have a rough idea of how much you’ll need!

Convinced you can make it across campus in 5 minutes? Okay, maybe if you decide to sprint every day, but who wants to do that? Just because you’ve made it somewhere in record time once doesn’t mean that will be your normal travel time.

Always round up your estimates to the next nearest multiple of 5 or 10. If you’ve found it takes you 12 minutes in the shower, estimate 15. If it takes 17 to get to class, estimate 20. If the average drive time to work is 23 minutes, estimate 25 or 30. Adding all of these slight overestimates up will provide you with the buffer we’ll talk about further down in number 8.


3. Build a playlist with a run time of how long you have to get ready.

You’ll grow to associate a song with a task and definitely know that when the last one starts playing, you better be almost out the door. Plus, it’ll make the morning so much more fun!

For a scientifically proven playlist designed to wake you up, check this out!


4. Pick out your outfit and pack your bag the night before.

Otherwise I promise you’ll spend 20 minutes trying on everything you own and scrambling to find your homework you stayed up late to finish. Look at the weather before you go to bed, make sure your notebooks are where they need to be, and at least have an idea of what you want to wear in the morning. This way, it will take under a minute to get dressed, giving you that extra 19 to sleep!

Plus, since you’ve already reviewed your plans for the day in step 1, these things should already be on your mind.


5. Set your alarm 15 minutes before you have to/want to/ need to get up.

This will give you that extra time to hit snooze once or twice and still be able to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling, and contemplate life for a few before you physically commit to getting out of bed.

Don’t forget to set multiple alarms, though, because I’ve definitely overslept a lot in high school due to thinking “I won’t fall back asleep, I promise.” I like to use an actual alarm clock for my first alarm and set my phone alarm for ten minutes later. Don’t ask me why I use both, I guess it gives me an extra layer of confidence that one of the two is bound to go off at some point!

Although multiple alarms is great for you, be courteous of your roommate and don’t keep that annoying beep blaring forever. Shut them off as soon as you can. Also, I know I just said to set multiple alarms, but know how many is too many or you may have a bigger problem than being late 😉


6. Set your clocks ahead a few minutes.

Trick your mind and scare yourself into really getting a move on. That mini heart attack you get when you look at the clock and see you were supposed to be somewhere ten minutes ago will definitely light a fire under you and get you out the door in seconds.

Keep in mind that this is only going to work if you don’t focus on the fact that your clock is fast. Otherwise, you’ll underestimate what time it actually is and end up being even later than you would’ve been had you seen the real time.

Some people can handle fast clocks; I am not one of them. It stresses me out knowing the time is incorrect! Give it a try, but don’t fret if it’s just not going to happen for you.


7. Don’t be afraid of being early.

Some people are afraid of being late, so they’re super early (aka me). Others are afraid of being early, so they always find a reason to keep pushing back actually getting on their way.

Being early isn’t always a waste of time. Bring a book, catch up on emails, sit in your car and listen to the radio, finish a math problem, scroll through your social media (you know you’d just be doing that at home anyway) or get to know another early bird.  I’ve been one of the first people in class many times. It’s fine. You’re there and now you have a few minutes to compose yourself and get set up for your class/meeting/whatever.


8. Overall, always build in some buffer time.

The elevators may be slow, you may hit every red light, or the line for breakfast may be extra long. If you’re leaving the room late, these things will definitely make you extra late!


So there you have it! Everything I do that keeps me on time. I may be consistently running late, but I’m running late on a schedule designed to make me early, so everything always works out.


~What are your best tricks for making sure you’ll arrive on time?

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