4 Rules You Must Follow if You Want to Be On Time

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Be On Time: Here’s What You Need to Know Do you want to be on time to your meetings and appointments?

Are you looking for some basic guidelines to follow when it comes to being more punctual?

Being on time doesn’t just happen by accident.

You have to follow a set number of time management based rules.

While learning these rules is one thing, the key to arriving on time lies in properly timing your actions within your daily routine.

Once you get a handle on these rules, you can greatly improve your chances of arriving on time to your appointments and meetings.

In this post, I offer several rules you must follow if you want to arrive on time.

By carefully following these rules on a regular basis, you’ll be able to arrive on time to your destination…with plenty of time to spare!


Rule #1. You must understand being on time means being early.

This may come as a surprise, but “being on time” doesn’t mean arriving at a meeting or a lecture at the last possible minute.

“Being on time” means you need to be at your final destination well before the proceedings begin.

There’s several great reasons for this practical approach.

Firstly, you’ll want to have enough time to settle in to your new environment.

You can’t easily do this if you slide in at the last few moments.

For example, you may want to unpack your belongings, grab a drink of water, collect your thoughts, and generally prepare yourself for your meeting. All of these actions take a few minutes to complete.

Secondly, you’ll want ample time to actually participate in your meeting or appointment. You can’t expect to arrive late to a meeting and fully catch up on everything you’ve missed as if you were at the meeting from the start. You’ve got to be ready to work, listen, and contribute as soon as the meeting begins.

And lastly, arriving on time means you’re showing respect for others. When you arrive on time, you don’t put someone in a difficult situation or cause a distraction for others. You’re showing respect to your fellow meeting attendees, be they colleagues, clients, friends, or family.

So, if you want to be punctual to your meetings and appointments, aim to arrive several minutes in advance.

A good rule of thumb is to arrive somewhere between five to fifteen minutes before your appointment is scheduled to begin. This way, you’ll have enough time to get settled in and prepared for the meeting to come.

Rule #2. You must avoid guessing the time.

Quick question…without consulting your computer display, phone display, or wristwatch, do you know what time is it right now?

If there’s one thing that will completely derail your efforts at punctuality, it’s being unaware of the current time.

There is absolutely no room for guessing the time in the morning, afternoon, or evening on any day of the week!

Punctuality relies on you paying attention to the clock…and taking adequate action at the right time. This can be an especially difficult thing to do if you’re simply guessing at the time of day.

If you’re ever in doubt about arriving on time to your meetings and appointments, keep this point in time: do not ever guess the time. One incorrect guess can set your day back several minutes, if not possibly hours.

And if you’re not already in the habit of checking the time, it’s easy to get up to speed with a few simple time management tools.

Wear a wristwatch or fitness tracker or keep a small clock at your desk within eyesight. You can also schedule time alerts or announcements to go off at the top and bottom of every hour on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone.

Another component of guessing the time includes misjudging how long it actually takes you to travel from one destination to another. Very rarely is traveling a cut and dry affair: there’s preparation, traffic, travel itself, and of course, settling in at your destination.

Check to see how long it actually takes you to travel from one side of town to the other, be it using a traffic application or simply timing your trip the old-fashioned way.

Rule #3. You must regularly practice punctuality.

Punctuality is just like any other skill; it must be practiced on a regular basis if you’re ever to make any improvements.

You can’t expect to make solid progress learning how to play the piano a mere ten minutes each week, nor can you expect to make marked progress in your time management skills with such limited practice.

If you want to be punctual, you must put in the time, and take small, positive steps every day to help you succeed.

How can you practice punctuality on a daily basis? It’s all about paying attention to the little things in your daily routine. After all, it is these little things that can quickly add up to a big problem or headache at the end of the day.

Aim to catch a specific bus, train, or subway on the way to or from work or school. Set a timer to remind yourself when it’s time to leave for an appointment.

Review your calendar at the end of the day to familiarize yourself with tomorrow’s schedule. You can also schedule a time to leave your home or office each day.

Rule #4. You must know you cannot control the outside world.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to drive your car through a three-lane traffic jam, speed up a crowded commuter train, or prevent a highway fender bender from happening en route to your salon appointment.

There are just some things in this world that are completely outside of your control. The key is understanding what you can’t and can control.

So, what CAN you control? You can control all those things that will help you arrive on time to your appointments. Every little thought or action has a great impact in your ability to arrive on time.

This includes making sure you leave your home or office on time, stopping work at a reasonable hour, packing up your personal and professional belongings in advance, and taking the best travel route possible.

When you prioritize the things you can control, you set your intentions, and end up taking those actions that will naturally help you to arrive on time. That’s a much better way of going about punctuality than just leaving things to chance, don’t you think?

How about you? Which of these four rules resonates the most with you? Why? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

A version of this post appeared on the blog in 2017.

Do you want help managing your time and schedule? I offer personalized time management coaching. Click here to learn more.

Want to better manage your time? The Order Expert’s Guide to Time Management, is a hands-on eWorkbook that provides practical solutions to common, everyday time management problems. Click here to learn more.

Be On Time: Here’s What You Need to Know
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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.
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