Ask LH: How Can I Fix My Chronic Lateness?

Ask LH: How Can I Fix My Chronic Lateness?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m one of those chronically tardy people. Wherever I’m going, even if I’m just meeting my friends, I’m always 10 of 15 minutes late — and it’s starting to irritate people. Got any suggestions for how I can avoid all these distractions and be more punctual?Sincerely, Late Larry

Photo by Jeff Lueders.

Dear Larry,

I certainly understand your friends’ annoyance (we all have that one friend who’s always late), but it’s good that you’re determined to fix it. In fact, there are a lot of little tricks you can pull on yourself to get out the door quicker. Here are a few of our favourites.

Figure Out Why You’re Late


There are any number of reasons you could be late everywhere. Perhaps you consistently underestimate traffic, or maybe you just get distracted too easily and end up rushing out the door 10 minutes later than intended. Determining the reason for your chronic lateness can help you find your own solutions. For example, if you keep underestimating traffic, Google Maps has a nifty traffic function that will let you know where the roads are congested (and even help you find an alternate, less congested route). If you’re late because you get lost all the time, you can just leave a little bit earlier — not to mention learn your way around town a little better. If you just get distracted, though, you’ll need to dig a bit deeper to make yourself more punctual.

Keep Yourself On Track With Reminders And Alarms


The simplest thing you can do to keep yourself from getting distracted is use your calendar, smartphone or other device to remind you when it’s time to leave. Even a simple alarm on your smartphone can keep you from “losing track of time” and get you out the door. If you’re an iOS user, previously mentioned GoTime is a really great way to keep track of when you need to leave. It’ll automatically grab your calendar events for the day, calculate how long it’ll take you to drive to your next event from your current location, and set off an alarm when it’s time to leave. Of course, you can do this with any alarm program as long as you look up driving directions to where you’re going ahead of time.

If you take a little more prying, you can automatically shut down your computer with something like previously mentioned Smart Shutdown or iWannaSleep. Just tell it what time you need to leave, and it’ll shut down your computer at that time, so you have no choice but to drag yourself away from Facebook to go and get ready.

Always Plan To Be Early


It may seem like an obvious solution, but if you’re constantly 15 minutes late wherever you go, just force yourself to leave 15 minutes earlier. This works nicely with the above tip about alarms — if you pay less attention to the time and more attention to when your alarm goes off, set it 15 minutes early and you’ll be on time even if you take 10 minutes just to get your shoes on. And, on the off chance you actually are early, there are all sorts of things you can do to kill time. You probably have a few errands you need to run anyway, whether it’s getting petrol, going to the bank, or stopping off at the supermarket for toothpaste. Alternatively, you can just check out a nearby shopping centre. Head to the nearest electronics store and play with tablets, or check out the bookshop next door. You can also bring something to read or install a game on your phone to keep you occupied while you wait. Photo by Lauren Hammond.

Enlist Your Friends To Help

Lastly, if none of these tips are really working, you can get your friends to help motivate you. They already probably heckle you for being late all the time, but if you ask them to be a little more evil and go radio silent, it might inspire you to move a little faster. Alternatively, you can set up a system where every time you’re late, you pay for one of your friends’ dinners, or something to that effect. After one or two more trips, you’ll probably never be late again.

Cheers Lifehacker

P.S. Of course, these are just a few of our favourite tips, but if you’ve got your own solutions, be sure to share them with us in the comments.

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  • “Always Plan To Be Early” – This is the best one. I always plan to be at least 15 mins early, that way if something happens along the way outside my control, I am generally still on time or if late then not too late. It also means that when you call in to work or whatever and say you will be late, it is easy to verify that you would have been early had it not been for the unforseen circumstance. On top of that, if you get into the habit of being early, then people will come to expect you as always arriving early, so that on that fateful day when you are late, it won’t be such a big deal in their eyes.

  • When I am late, it is almost always because I underestimate how long it takes to get where I need to be. So I try to always add a 50% buffer to travel times when deciding when I need to leave, whether riding, driving or taking public transport.

    One thing that does NOT work is setting your clock/watch forward. In fact, it has the opposite effect because you always think you have time up your sleeve when you don’t.

  • ha. I’m on time if I’m awake, but if you have to wake me up to get there.. eg work. Fat chance! Early nights, multiple alarms, nothing seems to tell my brain to get out of foggy sleep mode. Yet a sleep test showed I have an excellent sleep pattern and no problems with oxygen etc

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