How to Be on Time for Work

posted in: Time Management 4

How to Be on Time for Work

Are you tired of arriving late to work every day?

Do you want to learn how to leave your home at a reasonable hour and arrive on time to the office?

Punctuality is a skill everyone should learn.

Once you learn how to arrive on time for work, you can easily translate the process to other scheduling engagements, be they personal, school, or community appointments.

In this post, I offer you four time management tips to help you arrive on time for work.

With just a little bit of planning, you can be punctual!


Determine at what time you need to arrive at work.

You know you should be punctual, but at exactly what time do you need to arrive and be ready to work?

Now, keep in mind, we’re not trying to get you into your workstation at the last second, or having you go through the front door at the office a few minutes late. We want you to be fully settled in, ready, willing, and able to get on with your day. That being said, you’ll need to find out when your work day starts, and at what time you should actually arrive.

Generally speaking, arriving 15-20 minutes before the start of your work day should give you enough time to prepare yourself for the work day to come. Remember, you not only want to arrive on time, but you also want to be ready to work on time.

Here’s an example for you. Let’s say your work day starts at 10 A.M. Sure, you could arrive a few minutes earlier or exactly at 10 A.M., but that’s cutting things a little bit too close. So, you’d probably want to arrive at least fifteen minutes before 10 A.M., which is 9:45 A.M. This way, you have more time to put away your coat or jacket, unpack your belongings, stow your lunch in the break room, and settle into your workspace.

Focus on accomplishing five tasks in the morning.

Simplify your mornings by focusing on completing just five tasks at home. If you place your full focus and attention on checking off these tasks, one by one, you’ll be in a good position to arrive on time. So what are the five tasks? They’re quite simple. They are: bathing, dressing, eating breakfast, gathering your belongings, and traveling. That’s it.

Anything that doesn’t fall under these five tasks should be avoided or postponed for later in the day, or on a different day and time entirely.

Playing a video game? Fully enjoy your free time later. Decluttering out-of-season clothing from the guest room? Save that session for a less stressful time. Completing non-urgent paperwork? Set aside time to tend to your affairs during the weekend or evenings.

It may take some practice to “catch yourself” and rechannel your efforts, but it will certainly be worth it when it comes to arriving on time to work.

Set a “leave home” time.

This is simply the time at which you need to leave your home and be on your way to work. All of your five tasks (save the travel time, obviously) should be completed by this deadline. You should do everything in your power to get ready and head out the door.

This may mean waking up a few minutes earlier in the morning, setting mini-scheduling deadlines for yourself throughout the morning, or setting alerts or reminders on your smartphone or cellphone to get you up and moving.

Let’s say you commute to work. You have to catch a train at 8 A.M. in order to arrive on time. You know it takes you roughly 30 minutes to travel to the train station from your home. This amount of time can vary from day to day, depending on the weather and the traffic. In this case, you’d probably want to leave your home between 7:15 A.M. to 7:25 A.M. at the latest, to play it safe.

Prepare as much as possible the evening before.

This tip can be especially helpful if you’re not a morning person. Having items prepped and ready the evening before you head off to work can make it extremely easy to get ready in the morning. You won’t waste valuable time looking or searching for items, preparing materials, or wondering to take for lunch.

It’s best not to leave anything to chance; have as much as possible packed and ready to go. If you need to, you can create a daily checklist of items to prepare and refer to until it’s an ingrained habit.

Here’s a few things you can prepare the night before work:

  • Layout your entire outfit for the day, including, clothing, shoes, and accessories
  • Pack your lunch and snacks for the next day and place in the refrigerator
  • Lay out toiletries, makeup, and fresh linens in the bathroom
  • Fully prepare and pack your personal and work bags with personal effects, supplies, and materials
  • Round up your work or school ID, travel or commuter pass, wallet, house keys, and car keys, and place in an obvious, centralized location
  • Set up your breakfast table settings and nonperishables on the kitchen counter or table
  • Charge all of your electronic devices, be they smartphones, tablets, or laptops

How about you? What do you think contributes to lateness at work or school? What specific steps are you going to take to ensure you arrive on time to your place of work? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.

4 Responses

  1. Jenn

    Great post! I think I will share it with one of my employees, who often races in at the last minute, or after.
    All of your points are spot-on! My frustration (and my employee’s, I’m sure) is other people that have needs and slow us down. She has 4 children and I have a husband who does not like to be rushed. Any ideas for getting everyone to board the punctuality train?
    I was sorry to miss meeting you in Brooklyn! I live in Ohio, but my brother’s BF is there. 🙁

    • Rashelle

      Thanks, Jenn! That’s an excellent question. I’ll definitely keep this question in mind for a future post/presentation so I can answer more in depth.

      In the meantime, one of the most important things people can do when living in a household with others, is to make sure everyone understands the importance of only completing those five tasks in the AM. Any other tasks are non-negotiable, as they will disrupt everyone’s routine. If people can work on curtailing these extraneous activities or tasks, they’ll be one step ahead of the morning routine game.

      Thanks for your interest in the event. I’m sorry you were unable to attend, but the good news is I am planning some webinar events in future. So stay tuned! 🙂

      • Jenn

        Thank you for the reply, Rashelle! I will share with my staff member. Seems like she usually mentions something that one of her kids remembered that they needed to do/bring at the last minute that does disrupt everyone’s routine. But since it is a child and whatever is needed is pretty necessary (4H project pieces gathering, snacks to take to babysitter’s, etc), she takes the time to do it in order not to be called/interrupted later, during the work day. Maybe they could discuss such things the night before and put things in the car, so they are done ahead of time.

        Take care!

        • Rashelle

          You’re quite welcome, Jenn!