How Can I Avoid Getting To Work Late?

Are you always running late for…everything?

The fact that you are reading this piece implies that you are ready to hold yourself accountable, which is a positive step in the right direction.

To solve the dilemma of being habitually late, you have to really think deeply about your attitude to time and get to root of why you are habitually late. 

A chronically late person is constantly rushing towards the door, appears stressed and out of control. This is hardly a situation anyone would want to be in everyday. To the people kept waiting, you give the impression that they are either not important enough for you to show up on time or you do not value your job.

Even in school, students get reprimanded by school authorities when they show up late. Showing up late for work can however have dire consequences. You could get passed up for promotion opportunities or excluded from key projects for this reason. More often than not, habitual tardiness gives the impression that you do not like your job.

So, what can you do about it?

As a first step to positive improvement, be honest about how thin you can spread yourself in the mornings as well as how long it will take you to complete the things you have to do before you set out for work.

Penelope Trunk in her article, 5 Ways to stop being late, offers the following key advice: 

  1. Learn to say “no” to people if you have to be somewhere else and they are holding you up.
  2. Always assume an activity will take longer than you have planned and allow for extra time.

Lateness is a habit that develops from youth - from being late to school to being late everyday to work. According to Diana DeLonzor, cited in this Huffington post piece, most people who run late are not doing so because they are rude or inconsiderate; They actually do make efforts to arrive on time but just never do. Here are some points from Diana DeLonzor:

  1. Understand how long it really takes to get certain things done and adjust your alarm accordingly - Don’t be overoptimistic about time. If in one day, your trip to work took about 10 minutes, it does not mean that is the average amount of time it will take everyday.
  2. Understand the benefits of being early - Being on time gives people the impression that you are in control, are responsible and respect company time. 
  3. Don’t try to achieve too much within the limited time you have - there’s only so much you can do within the time you have to get ready for work and you need to evaluate that and make changes to your plans for the morning.
  4. Avoid split second timing - Train yourself to being 10 minutes early as opposed to arriving 30 minutes later.

Other steps you can take to effect a lasting change are discussed below:

  1. Set an alarm. If you have a hard time waking up on your own, set an alarm. When you do, set allowances. Most people hate being awakened when they are still in dreamland. For those that work however, time dictates when they should wake up. So, if you should be at work by eight in the morning, set the alarm at least hours before that. Allow sufficient time for commute, breakfast, bath and dressing up.  If you have the habit of doing things in slow motion, being groggy or having heavy feet leading up to the bathroom, include an allowance for that. Make allowances for necessary things or activities but never for snooze time.
  2. Do not go to bed late. There are two sides to this argument. Partying late into the night with booze to put you to sleep should only happen if you can still wake up refreshed and rejuvenated when the alarm rings. On the other hand, if partying will only result in a splitting headache in the morning and tempt you to take the day off, perhaps you should avoid it altogether.  Even if you make it to work, your productivity may suffer.
  3. Make preparations beforehand. If you brought home some work the previous day and want to make sure that you complete it before the next day, have them ready before going to bed. Remember when you were still a student? It's typically more effective to get your assignments done and packed in your bags the night before. This also holds true for your outfit. This way, you don’t end up spending extra time gathering your things in the morning or forgetting key items and then having to rush back.
  4. Provide a permanent place for items you need to set out. You might want to have them near your bedside, a dresser, fireplace mantle or console table near the doorway where you can find them easily. You could also install a key hanger conveniently near the door for easy access so you don’t waste valuable time looking for your keys.
  5. Schedule chores for nighttime if they need to be done daily. Chores like washing dishes or doing the laundry can be done at night. Heavier chores should be lined up for weekends.
  6. Find the shortest or least time-consuming way to work. If you take the main road to work, you might get stuck in traffic. Find other routes, like alleys and small streets to get you from your house to work quickly. You could also consider commuting. Depending on the circumstances, you may find that commuting to work takes less time than driving your own car. This way, you also contribute less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Getting early to work involves making a conscious and habitual effort to prioritise and stay ahead of time. You won’t get there in one day, however. Everytime you get to work late, ask yourself what you could have done to prevent it and then take active steps to prevent it from happening again.

Picture Attribution: "Busy Young Man Using Mobile" by David Castillo Dominici/