I have a problem, and there’s no getting around it: lately, I’m constantly running late. Even though I don’t think that most of my friends would describe me as an especially late person, the truth is that I’m always running slightly (5 – 10 minutes) late almost everywhere I go, and the constant rushing often leaves me feeling stressed and anxious when I get to my destination. It’s definitely become worse since Henry came on the scene, and I’ve added nursing, diaper changing and getting 2 kids dressed and ready into my routine before leaving the house. I’m feeling like it’s time to buckle down and start challenging myself to do what it takes to be on time. I read this quote by Karen Joy Fowler the other day: Arriving late is a way of saying that your own time is more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you. Yikes. If that’s not enough reason to get it together, I don’t know what is. In that spirit, I’ve been reading articles and advice from around the web to help me get a handle on my tardiness, and thought I’d share the 6 tips that have been most helpful to me… just in case I’m not the only girl out there who’s always rushing from point A to point B. Click through, and let me know in the comments any strategies that help you be on time!

* featured image: giovanna battaglia by stockholm streetstyle

1. Be realistic about how much time something really takes.

This is a tough one for me. I have a hard time stopping in the middle of a project before it’s complete, so I often find myself just rushing to finish something even if it’s taking way longer than I initially thought it would. So, if I could master the skill of calculating how long something is actually going to take (whether it’s writing an email or getting Phoebe ready for dance class), I could better gauge if I even have time to start it in the first place. A lot of the experts I read advised actually using a timer while performing daily activities for a couple days, so we could get a realistic handle on how much time we should be allowing for various tasks. When the allotted time for a given activity is almost up, we’ll know it’s time to wrap it up and move on. 

*image: garance dore

2. Plan ahead.

For a lot of people, distraction or forgetfulness — like always misplacing your car keys when it’s time to leave the house — can be a cause of frequent lateness. If this is you, a few simple organizational strategies can set you on the path to promptness.

  1. Set up reminders for yourself in your calendar, so that you can get an alert when you’re 30, 5, or 1 minute away from something you’re supposed to do.
  2. Get prepped in advance so that you’re not scrambling right when you need to leave the house. If you’re always late for work or school drop-off,  take time the night before to lay out your clothes, pack lunch and make sure necessities, like keys and sunglasses, are by the door.  This helps prevent any surprises (uh-oh, new shirt needs ironing!) from popping up at the moment you should be leaving the house.

These little habits also make for an all-around happier start to the day, since you’re not starting it in stress-mode.

*image: lo and sons

3. Resist the urge to do just one more thing. 

This is hands-down my biggest problem. I’m that person who hates feeling like they’re wasting time, so my need to check just one more thing off my to-do list is often what makes me late. That final thing I try to accomplish can definitely spin out of control and take way more time than I initially thought. Instead, I’m working on remembering that most of the time, that one extra thing can probably wait. 

The reality is, I’m not going to be able to check off everything on my to-do list before leaving my desk. Instead, I’ve been trying to look at my list as something that I can work on over the course of a week, and chances are I’ll have a free pocket of time later where I’m able to focus on the task at hand without having to rush through it to get somewhere.

*image: garance dore

4. Set up deadlines for yourself – and take them seriously.

Sometimes lateness can be solved by sheer self-discipline to keep commitments to yourself. If you’ve set your alarm for earlier than usual – go ahead and get up at the time you’ve promised, without hitting the snooze button. Procrastination – whether it’s getting out of bed, making a dreaded phone call, or going to a doctor’s appointment – only prolongs the inevitable and often leaves you stressed (and late) in the process. As a wise man once said… Just do it.

image: garance doré

5. Aim to be early.

As previously mentioned, I hate wasting time, so my normal m.o. is to plan on arriving somewhere right on the dot. The problem with this strategy is that if anything unexpected pops up (lost car keys, traffic jam, too many red lights), I end up being late. I’ve learned that people who are consistently on-time always aim to show up somewhere a little early, and then they don’t have to freak out over a delay since they’ve carved out a little breathing room in their schedule. The worst thing that can happen? You get somewhere and have 5 minutes to kill, in which case you should…

*image: madewell

6. Embrace the wait.

I’ve realized I can actually enjoy arriving somewhere early if I have something to do besides scroll mindlessly through my Instagram feed. Return phone calls, organize my calendar for the week, plan what I’m making for dinner that night… a few minutes of downtime can actually turn into some of the most productive moments of your day, and you can do them in a relaxed and unhurried way since you’re not worried about being late to your next destination. So (and I’m saying this as much to myself as anyone else): Don’t fear downtime. It seems like a paradox, but embracing the possibility of doing nothing can actually be more productive in the long term.

*image via Vestiaire

Share this Post

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments (14)
  1. 1
    aneelee August 18, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I am afraid that I have slowly crept into the always just a “tad bit late” person as well. Oosh. Once I have others in tow or have to wait on someone else (kids! husbands!!) is when things fall out of whack for me.

  2. 2
    Charlotte August 18, 2015 at 8:48 am

    I recently left for work earlier than my usual last-minute dash, and I was surprised at how much more serene I felt on the way and once I arrived. It’s hard to make it a habit to be a little early, but these ideas will help!

  3. 3
    Vanessa @ Living in Steil August 18, 2015 at 9:24 am

    I’m a big fan of adding a cushion of 15 minutes. So, if I have to be somewhere at 11am, I’ll pretend we said 10:45am. That way I have a few extra minutes for the unexpected.


    • Camille Styles August 18, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      what a great habit! I’m going to try this…

  4. 4
    xoxobellablog August 18, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Great tips! I am good at planning, but I am a busy bee so I always try to sneak in one more thing!

    xoxoBella | http://xoxobella.com

  5. 5
    N E Jackson August 18, 2015 at 9:59 am

    My problem tends to be procrastinating little tasks…that then snowball into major tasks and make me late for something else! I definitely need to work on that.

  6. 6
    Lauren Monique August 18, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Wow, that last point was so helpful! Ever since I started reading Gretchen Rubin (the happiness project and better than before) I’ve tried to start identifying what is actually causing the problem. I knew I was always 5-10 minutes late because I feared the downtime, but actually planning something useful to do in those extra minutes is perfect! Thanks Camille!

    • Camille Styles August 18, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      yay!! I think it’s a good strategy for us Type A’s who never like to be bored!

  7. 7
    YoungOne August 24, 2015 at 11:49 am

    This is less of something I do but is done to me. I’m a last minuet kind of girl, and I get worse when it comes to meeting my friend as time seems more flexible. So to resolve this my friends have started lying to me about our meet up time hehe. I’ll probably apply this to all my events. Thanks for the tips x

  8. 8
    preppyandfunny August 25, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Nice one thank you!

  9. 9
    Italian Belly October 29, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    I need to print this and put it somewhere i see everyday. I am guilty of everything you mentioned and it’s been going on ever since I was a teenager… now i’m in my 30’s so it’s going to take a lot of discipline to change old ways. I think i’ll try to time my activities to start. Haven’t done that before. Thanks for this!

  10. 10
    Natalie October 30, 2016 at 6:12 am

    I have a friend who helped arrange his friend’s funeral (who was habitually late), so he arranged for two funerals – one after the other, as the friend would have been late for and missed the first one!

  11. 11
    Heather October 30, 2016 at 7:45 am

    I try to be on time but it’s the one more thing that gets me. I have heard that line about thinking my time is more important than those I make wait. It’s so rude – I’m definitely going to work on being early and having tasks to fill the time. Thanks for all the tips!

  12. 12
    Natalie Redman November 16, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Useful tips. I am terrible for running late in the morning. I’m going to use these tips to my advantage.