Punctuality can make a world of difference for everyone. Some people seem like they are born to always be early to everything and don’t know the meaning of being late, while others, you can bet on being at least 20 minutes late and if they’re on time, it’s shocking! But let’s take a moment to talk about the benefits of being on time. I am NOT an expert in being punctual–I have been known to be a chronically late person. However, I have made huge strides in this arena to overcome the stress of being late and the deeper ramifications that can accompany tardiness.
When you are constantly running late, it raises your cortisol levels, your stress hormone. You’re more likely to speed along and not pay as close attention to things around you and you might even get in an accident, which will create more stress.
Here are some ways to help you be more punctual.
- Lie to yourself. If you have an appointment at 3, tell yourself it’s at 2:30. Put appointments in your phone as being before they actually are. Set your clock on your car ahead so you have that sense of urgency. When you start lying to yourself a little bit, it starts carving new neuropathways in your brain and makes you think that 2:50 is 3:00.
- Count minutes. One thing that can be insidious is the idea that something will “only take a minute.” Well, how many minutes are you using? If it takes you 2 minutes to put your hair in a bun and 1 minute to put on lipstick and 1 minute to decide what scarf you want to wear and 1 minute to tie the scarf how you want and 2 minutes to brush your teeth and …. Do you see how those minutes start adding up? Right now, we are at 7 minutes! Now that might not seem like a lot, but that’s 7 minutes you are now late. And in those 7 minutes, another car accident could have happened and now you have a detour you have to take that tacks on another 4-6 minutes to your commute. Now you’re 11-13 minutes late! Counting minutes makes you more aware of how you’re spending your time.
- Driving time is different than how much time it takes to get there. This is something that’s an interesting thought, and I don’t think many people think much about it. Say it takes you 20 minutes of driving time to get where you need to go. That means you can leave 20 minutes before you have to be there, right? WRONG! That’s JUST your driving time! That doesn’t include grabbing everything you need before you leave the house, putting your shoes / coat / hat / etc. on, getting in your car, buckling up, starting your car (maybe giving it a minute to warm up), making sure doors are locked, or needing to wait to get out of your driveway for some reason. It doesn’t take into account if there’s road construction, a car accident, if you get pulled over, getting stopped at all of the red lights, waiting for a train, and countless other things that could happen while you’re on the road. It doesn’t add in the time it takes for you to find parking, grab all of your things, walk to where you need to go, talk to the right person, get situated for being present at that place, and any other event that might come up. Just because it’s a 5 minute drive doesn’t mean it takes you 5 minutes to get there.
- Set timers. If you have 15 minutes to do makeup, set a timer. Once that timer is done, you’re done! No more! Walk away! That’s all you got! You can’t finish it! You gotta go! If you have 20 minutes to watch a show for a bit of a break, don’t watch an episode of Scandal or Sherlock! 20 minutes gives you ALMOST an episode of Parks and Recreation. You’re better off watching a quick Nickelodeon show or just reading a book for 20 minutes.
- Know yourself. I personally am unreliable before 10 am. I constantly try to work on it, however, my job also makes it easy for me to not work before 10 am. More people want to come in after work and on weekends, and not usually before work. Starting my day at 10 am or later and working later works for me. Don’t lie to yourself and say you can be up and lively at 5 am if you can’t! Be honest with yourself and know yourself. People will respect you more if you’re just honest.
- Raise the bar. Really, you need to start holding yourself to a higher standard. Maybe I’m being rude and you won’t like me after this, but it comes down to your priorities. Is it more important for you to have those extra minutes? Or is it important to you to be punctual and viewed as reliable and dependable?
By implementing some of these into your life, you will find more peace in your day. These will give you an opportunity to find Mindful Minutes throughout your day. When you get into your car, take a minute to sit and breathe and remember you’re in a 1 ton + machine that carries your precious life in it. Take that extra breath before you turn onto a road. When you get to work, grab yourself a beverage and either make a mental or physical list of the things you MUST accomplish that day. When you are on time, or even early, you get to add in more intention to your life.
Written by Marissa Orchard