I’ve just about conquered an old reputation of being consistently late everywhere I go. A few years back I noticed someone who was always on time. Given his military background, I thought I’d see what he had to say that could help me. When I have applied his advice it has made a drastic difference in my punctuality, and it started me on a journey of gathering my own practical tips to keep my newfound habit in check (although it has gone by the wayside here and there).
Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early to everything, and even 30 minutes is better. If you’re 15-30 minutes early it gives you a window of time set aside for unforeseen circumstances: traffic, baby wet her clothes, something got left at home. Most things that come up at the last minute only set you behind a few minutes. If you’re running early it gives you a reasonable window just in case, allowing you to be on time besides the unforeseen circumstance.
Let’s say you have an important appointment early the next morning (and what could be more important than getting to church early to meet with God and His family). Numerous tasks can be finished the day or night before to give you a head start. My motto is, if it can be taken care of early then do it!
A Practical List
- Check the temperature for the next day and lay out the clothes you are going to wear. I have seriously stood in my closet for 20 minutes with a fickle brain. (I even lay out my kids clothes if they are coming with me.)
- Try on the clothes you are going to wear, especially if you’ve never worn that particular combination of clothes. Sometimes they look good on the hanger, but not on you. If your selection is tried and true, inspect it for holes, loose buttons, etc. Do they need to be ironed?
- Lay out every accessory you will be wearing. Decisions take time. Conquer them early. Also, you may discover that your watch has stopped.
- Inspect the shoes you have decided to wear. Try them on with your clothes. Do they need to be shined?
- Take care of manicuring your nails. Even a simple trim can save you a couple of necessary minutes.
- Collect all the items you will need to bring with you and put them in the car. Put them by the door if they are valuable or can’t handle an extreme temperature.
- Fill your gas tank.
- Have a simple breakfast ready to roll. (i.e. frozen waffles to pop in the toaster).
- Don’t cheat your sleep; get to bed on time. There’s nothing like hitting the snooze button that makes your time disappear faster.
All these things take just a few minutes, but when added together they represent a serious chunk of time. Keeping that in mind, don’t fool yourself after you’ve finished those and set your alarm later thinking you gained more time to sleep because of the time you took to prepare the day before. I…um…learned that by experience. 😉
What do you do to help yourself be punctual? Do you have any tips you can share?
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