7 Reasons why being on time can improve your life

watch, phone, and clock

When it comes to being on time, you likely fall into one of two groups:

  1. If you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late
  2. You intend to be on time, but it rarely, if ever, happens

A San Francisco State University found that about 17% of the population is chronically late. These people share similar personality characteristics including anxiety, being messy, are easily distracted, have perfectionist habits, demonstrate low levels of self-control and may have a penchant for thrill-seeking

Whether it’s deep-rooted personality characteristics, learned behaviors, or just being really bad at estimating how long it takes to get something done, lateness can be a very difficult habit to break.

If you are trying to be intentional and better prepared for every day, both the mundane and unexpected, than paying attention to your timeliness is important.

It’s hard to be prepared for the unexpected if you are stressed out and rushed from being late. Ensuring your mind is in a place that is focused, aware, but also relaxed, can sometimes mean the difference between life or death. 

When you are on time, you are more prepared. It creates an environment where you can operate better and be more efficient.

Let’s look at 7 reasons why being on time can give you an edge in your day-to-day life.

1. You’re less stressed out

nightstand with alarm clock, field notes pocket notebook, karas kustoms copper bolt pen, victorinox swiss army knife and flashlight.

There are many stresses in life that you have no control over. Work, health, family, world events, people and finances can all impact your stress and anxiety levels. The good news? Being on time is one thing that you can control.

When you’re late, you carry the stress of being late into where you are going, usually wasting time apologizing and sometimes worried about the impact of being late (doctor’s appointment, work, school, etc.).

When you’re on time, you not only relieve the stress of being late, but you save the wasted time spent apologizing. Take back this stressor in life that you can actually control. 

2. You are in a better mood

If you want to be *that guy* who yells at his kids or snaps at his wife, add the stress of being late on top of everything else.

The unexpected is going to happen. You are going to hit traffic due to a wreck. You will have to turn back home because you forgot something critical. Your kids will start yelling or crying in the back seat for no reason.

When your stress level increases,  you have less patience for people you’re with and people who cross your path. You are so focused on yourself and trying to make up for the lost time that any little thing that goes wrong can push your emotions over the edge.

Don’t be a jerk. When you plan for the unexpected, you are able to absorb the unexpected. You can focus on the present and the people around you, putting you in a better mood and making you a better person to be around. 

3. It makes you safer

We all hear often on the news about accidents due to drivers texting, speeding or not paying attention, and many times these accidents end in death, with the other driver being criminally charged. Two families are forever impacted because of one person’s poor judgment.

Speeding through yellow or red lights, erratically changing lanes, trying to call or text explaining lateness, are some of the top causes of car accidents and all can be avoided with just a little bit of margin added to your commute.

It’s hard to drive safely when you are rushing and it’s even harder to practice situational awareness when you’re stressed out and trying to make up for the lost time.

When you’re not in a rush, you’re able to travel safer. Whether you’re driving, walking, biking, or taking mass transportation, you are less likely to take risks when you know you have the time to go slow, be intentional, and practice situational awareness.

4. It shows other people respect

Being late is usually not intentional, but the message that you’re sending to others is that your time is more valuable than theirs. They planned and left in enough time, but are having to delay or interrupt a meeting, project, task, meal, or class for you.

By valuing other’s time as much as your own, you will put forth your best effort to honor their time commitments. If what you have scheduled just cannot work out, then respectfully say no, and mean it.

When you’re on time, you show the people around you that you respect their time and them as a person.

5. You gain the confidence of other people

Fair or not, if you’re late, it tells those around you that you are unprepared, unreliable, and unable to handle responsibility. If you can’t get out of bed 15 minutes earlier, then why do you have the expectation that you should be given a promotion at work? 

Trust is earned and a first impression or established relationship will always be strained when you are late.

When you’re calm, prepared and early for commitments you have, you show people that you can be trusted with responsibility.

6. You gain the confidence of yourself

When you’re late, not only do people feel that they can’t trust you or rely on you, but it also impacts your self-esteem and the way you carry yourself.

Self-confidence can be boosted by being prepared for the unexpected. You’ll walk down a dark alley with much more confidence if you have a concealed firearm with you, right? You know that if *something* was to happen, you have a better chance of being able to come out alive.

This concept can be applied in these life-or-death situations to more mundane situations. It is at the heart of everyday carry: preparedness ultimately leads to confidence and freedom as you move above your day.

Also, “bad guys” will notice how you carry yourself. With self-confidence, you’re more situationally aware, in tune with your surroundings, and not rushed, and you have the gear and training you need to handle the different things that can come your way. 

Being on time allows you the ability to slow down and pay attention to your surroundings, ensuring you are adequately prepared for what could come your way, which gives you higher self-esteem, making you a harder target for those who intend harm.

7. It teaches intentionality and personal responsibility to your kids

As life moves forward, you become more aware of how important your legacy is. Money, prestige, and possessions begin to matter less and who you are, the people in your life, and how you give back become more important.

Your children are a direct representation of your values, morals, and behavior as they will always copy what you do over following what you say.

By respecting other people, having self-confidence, being calm when facing the stressors of life, practicing preparedness, and being dependable, you show your kids how to grow up and be a contributing member of society who takes responsibility for himself/herself. 

It’s not someone else’s fault you are late. It’s not the fault of traffic, it’s yours. This underlying message can be a critical one for your kids to see practiced day in and day out. They will see you be intentional and take responsibility when you do mess up, passing on a legacy that you will be proud of. 

Practical steps to being on time

  1. Recognize the power of intentionality. Preparedness and intentionality always lead to confidence and freedom as you move throughout your day
  2. Make the decision to bring change. You may still have instances where you are late, but if you are being intentional about changing to be more on time, it will come, just don’t give up 
  3. Get up 15 minutes earlier. This seems silly but if you keep your same routine, adding that extra 15 minutes can give you the padding you need to start being on time
  4. Plan in advance. Set your stuff out the night before, get gas on the way home instead of on the way to work, make sure your keys are found, etc. These small things seem trivial but can easily tack on vital minutes to your morning routine
  5. Learn to say no. Everyone has only 24 hours in their day. Learn how to say no to commitments at work, with other families and friends
  6. Be realistic. If you are chronically late, you are likely not good at estimating the real amount of time it takes you to get ready and get where you want to go. Log how much time you think it will take you and then log how long it really takes you and plan accordingly. You’ll find a pattern and re-teach yourself how to plan
  7. Think of others. If you have a mental block in getting anywhere early, shift your focus away from yourself and onto others. Is it really fair to leave them waiting on you for 15 minutes? 30 minutes? Pay attention to how you feel when placed in a similar position
  8. Focus on small successes. If you begin to make a change and are on time one day, remember how it feels. The stress-free drive, not having to explain or make excuses, etc. Build upon the fuzzy feelings you get and keep moving towards creating better habits

Any other tips for folks who struggle with chronic lateness?

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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