6 Ways to Stop Being Late

Running late again? You're certainly in good company: more than 20 percent of Americans are chronically late, according to a study from San Francisco State University. Time management problems affect people of all ages, professions, and ethnic groups.

What Causes Time Management Problems?

While many people assume that lateness is a sign of poor planning or a lack of consideration, lead study researcher and management consultant Diana DeLonzor says that the problem is actually much more complicated. "Repetitive lateness is often related to personality characteristics such as anxiety or a penchant for thrill-seeking," DeLonzor says. These characteristics can cause people to overbook their time, underestimate how long it will take to get from one place to another, or seek out the adrenaline rush of racing against the clock. "Most chronically late people truly dislike being late, but it's a surprisingly difficult habit to overcome," she explains. In fact, "Telling a late person to be on time is a little like telling a dieter to simply stop eating so much."

Time Management Tips

Regardless of what causes frequent lateness, there is good news: it's possible to take control of the situation. To help the chronically late, DeLonzor penned Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged. She shared some of her recommendations with QualityHealth:

1. Re-evaluate how long it takes to accomplish daily tasks. For one week, time yourself in the morning to find out how much time to allow for showering, getting dressed, and driving to work, since these activities often take longer than you might anticipate. DeLonzor suggests making up a new schedule based on your findings and posting it on your bathroom mirror as a reminder so you can follow it every morning.

2. Aim to be early. Instead of trying to get to work or appointments exactly on time, which rarely works, DeLonzor recommends planning to be 15 minutes early, which in most cases will actually get you there on time.

3. Reward yourself. If you do arrive early, treat yourself by using this extra time to relax for a few minutes, gather your thoughts, read a magazine or book or check your email.

4. Arm yourself with a daily plan. DeLonzor says structure and planning are key to successful time management. Writing a schedule (either on paper or electronically) of what you need to do for the day, and how long it will take, can help you to better organize your time.

5. Plan ahead. Take the time at night to pick out your clothes, make tomorrow's lunch, and leave your keys and bags by the door ready for the next morning.

6. Learn from your mistakes. If you do fall back into old patterns, instead of beating yourself up, take a moment to think about what threw you off track and commit to doing better next time.

For more time management techniques, visit DeLonzor's website.

Dianne DeLonzor reviewed this article.



DeLonzor, Diana. Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged. Post Madison Publishing. Jan 2003. Email interview. 8 Feb. 2013.