· Bright Ideas · 7 Useful Tips You Need To Know If You’re Always Running Late

7 Useful Tips You Need To Know If You’re Always Running Late

tips for people who are always late

Arriving late for things is a common problem. In fact, it’s probably so common that either you yourself are regularly late to things, or you have someone close to you who is. And either way, it can be a frustrating behavior to deal with!

So in today’s blog post, I’ll be sharing 7 practical tips for people who can’t seem to stop running late. I made an effort to feature useful strategies and simple solutions here, because the obvious suggestions like “just stop being late” aren’t really helping anyone.

So whether you use these tips to change your own ways, or you send them along to a loved one, I hope they prove helpful in making us all more punctual people! :-)

7 Practical Tips For People Who Are Always Late

tips for people who are always late

1. Consider The Consequences

Breaking bad habits can be hard work, and perpetual tardiness is no exception! Staying motivated is key when making long-term changes, and one way to do that is to remind yourself of why you want to stop being late.

So grab a piece of paper and something to write with, and jot down all the consequences you’ve faced in the past because of being late. Have you missed an important meeting, been reprimanded by your boss, gotten a speeding ticket, or even just arrived somewhere feeling stressed or frazzled?

Write it all down, then post the list somewhere you’ll see it often. Then as you do the hard work of changing those habits, your list can serve as a reminder of why it’s work worth doing!

tips for people who are always late

2. Under-Schedule Yourself

If you’re always arriving late, you might be overestimating how much you actually have time to accomplish! Try dialing back how much you take on for a while to determine if you’ve been over-scheduling yourself, and use my calendar printable to keep yourself organized.

Not sure how to dial back? Delegate or ask for help with things that are taking up a lot of your time, and when someone asks if you have time for something, give yourself permission to say “no!”

tips for people who are always late

3. Adopt Meal Prepping

Getting into meal prepping can save you a lot of valuable time throughout the week. Try choosing two days a week to do food prep, like Sunday to start your week off right and Thursday to round it out.

Try to keep your meals simple so they don’t take much time or effort to assemble. Breakfast sandwiches and burritos make quick and easy breakfast options, and salads or grain bowls make great lunches. For dinner, try out some freezer meals like these ones.

tips for people who are always late

4. Pick Out Outfits Beforehand

If mornings are particularly hard for you, there are plenty of ways to simplify your morning routine, like picking out your outfit the night before! If you already have your outfit for the day set aside, all you have to do is get dressed (instead of spending 15 minutes sleepily staring into your closet!)

Need some outfit inspiration? Check out this super simple hack for deciding what to wear!

tips for people who are always late

5. Check Your Sleep Habits

If you’re always running late, it may be a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep in general. Use my printable sleep tracker, or a fitness band or phone app with sleep tracking technology, to get a clearer picture of how much sleep you’re getting.

Based on the data you collect, you can adjustments to your sleep schedule to make sure you’re getting enough high-quality sleep.

tips for people who are always late

6. Rethink Semantics

Are you often late because you didn’t give yourself enough time to park your car, find the building, buy a ticket, etc.? If so, changing the way the think about your plans could be a helpful tactic!

For instance, if you normally tell yourself “my dinner date is at 7:30,” you might change it by saying, “I need to be inside the restaurant at 7:30.” Or instead of “the meeting is at 2:00,” you could tell yourself “the meeting begins at 2:00.”

Use semantics to remind yourself that you’ll probably need a few extra minutes to get somewhere than you would normally plan for!

tips for people who are always late

7. Reorganize Your Entryway

If you often find yourself waylaid by searching for your keys, wallet, phone, or glasses, getting more organized could help you get out the door on time in the future. Make sure you have a place to hang your keys, a dish for your wallet and glasses, and other areas to corral the things you’ll need to grab when you head out.

What’s the best tip you could give to someone who is always late?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Bright Ideas

  • I have the problem of being late often and I do tend to blame it on anything but my own planning;however, I try to remember one important fact: If you are late, you were already late when you put your foot into the car door and you should definitely NOT plan to make it up when you are on the road. Many of us do that and there are many, too many accidents because of it.

  • Brilliant blog Jilly…. As always. Great suggestions. I wish I could guarantee to myself that I would put these things into practice! One can only try anyway!

    JUST INCASE IT IS OF ANY USE TO ANYONE OR FOR INFO: (…perhaps life changing!!) ……..
    Constant lateness, poor time management, disorganization, poor at prioritising, everything takes much longer to do as get distracted easily …. are all symptoms of Adult ADHD. (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
    People say but we are all like that ‘sometimes’ and that’s right, but when it’s chronic to the point it has a negative impact on your life, work, relationships & you cannot seem to fix it no matter what you try….then go and see a psychiatrist!)

    It’s nothing to do with intelligence, laziness, not caring, being laxidasical….It’s actually part of your brain not getting the messages, a dopamine deficiency. Just the same as those with diabetes don’t make enough insulin and they cannot set a timer or write a reminder to make them produce more insulin, the same with ADHD, no amount of nagging increases dopamine production or changes brain structure unfortunately!

    So if any of this is impacting your life, chronically…. I would 1000% go and see your doctor. Nothing to lose. You may find out something you can get treatment for which may change your life for the better.

    Sorry a bit deep, but seemed very relevant to this blog.

    I highly recommend a website called “additude” … accurate, factual, scientific, easy to understand info about ADHD.

    Speaking from personal experience. (Not as a doctor)
    I’ve spent my life struggling with all this stuff and still do. I was diagnosed with ADHD and indeed treatment does help, but defo doesn’t cure.
    Being late for friends and family and never replying to messages, until 2 months later. Then promising to keep in touch better and then taking another 2 months to reply again. It is not out of not caring, I think about replying every single day, but severe procrastination is another symptom and makes it feel like the hardest thing in the world to write a simple reply and so you get anxious about it and think you will do it later. And later never comes! Phew! …

    Anyway…sorry for the this essay. Just a bit of info for those who may think their friends are terrible and careless, they may actually not be at all but may have a problem. Most people go their entire lives undiagnosed, or wrongly diagnosed.

    Keep up the great work Jilly. It’s a pleasure to read xx

  • I always used to be late, but now hardly ever. Instead of focusing on what time you need to arrive, I focus on what time I need to be out of the house. That makes the journey stressless and if there is an unexpected delay, at least it’s fairly guilt-free. It’s good to factor in a few minutes for the unexpected as well.

  • My husband and I discuss arrival times frequently. We go backwards from arrival time. If we have to be somewhere by 7pm, we talk it out. For example, travel time is 1/2 hour, parking and walking to restaurant is 20 minutes. Then we round up. Even when I have an appointment I will discuss the timing the day before with him. His motto is “if you’re 15 minutes early, you’re on time”.

  • I used to be late and realized it was very inconsiderate. A number of years I strutted to set my clocks & watches 5 minutes early, including the clock in my car. I have not been late since! Many times I forget & call the place that I think I am late for only to realize my clocks are fast! The woman I take with me To a meeting is always 5-10 minutes late & I find it a lack of consideration. She is late to everything!

  • One huge tip that really helped me: Include time to get out the door and on the road. I simply hadn’t factored that in! So now I add 7 – 10 minutes to get to the road. Viola.

  • Jillee, thank you so much! I have struggled with this problem for years. I hate it. I have finally realized that it is in fact a real problem – otherwise, I would have solved it long ago. It has hurt my job and my relationships (especially my marriage). It has caused hard feelings and other problems with regard to appointments – medical, dental, hairdressing, you name it. Worst of all, I feel ashamed of myself, pretty much all the time. I don’t want to be this way, but seem powerless to change it. I will take your tips to heart and see if they can’t bring about a change in my life, and in my self-esteem.

  • My friend would stress herself and her young kids because she was constantly telling them to be ready to leave. She focused too much on them than herself. Most of the time they weren’t ready to leave. So I told her to have them be ready a half hour or more before leaving. As simple as that is, it worked. Now everyone is ready and relaxed.

    I also suggested she help her kids, elementary school age, to be more organized so they know what they are expected to do.

    For myself, I use flash cards that I keep in a kitchen drawer for tasks that I would forget, like “Plants” that means water the house plants, or “Trash” for days when trash has to be put out for pick up and other reminders. When I remember what has to be done that day, I put the flash card on my counter as a reminder. At my age, I usually have a few on my kitchen counter every day.

    I had my kids do this for themselves when they were younger. This made them to be more responsible for themselves.

  • Great tips! I find that if I get everything prepared the night before, I’m most efficient in the morning and not running around searching for things. It’s been a game changer. I lay my work clothes out, I put my coffee cup next to the coffee pot, I have my keys by the door, and the baby’s bag packed and ready to go so all I have to do is load her up and grab the bags! It makes the morning stress-free.

    Kaitlyn @ Oh, the Places We’ll Go!

  • I know someone that could benefit from reading and following your suggestions. Unfortunately, I don’t have the nerve to send it to her!
    Her tardiness is infuriating and inconsiderate. She never apologizes either.
    It happens when we meet at restaurants and it happens when she is the one who sets the time for a dinner party at HER house.
    I just have to keep trying to outfox her, but it’s very difficult to do.

    • I hear you. We have several friends and relatives (most of them) who are constantly late. It makes you feel like you are second rate in their eyes and not that important. Some of them would never think to be late for work, etc., so it is upsetting. My husband and I are rarely late to anything, but if we are, we always call to let them know. Our friends never do that. Sometimes we wait 2 or 3 hours. We’ve decided if that ever happens again, we will not be there when they get there and maybe explain later. LOL! Maybe then they will get the message to see how it feels.

      • That’s terrible. You are quite within your rights to imagine they are not coming after a certain time and make fresh arrangements to go out without them. Presumably they are not 2 – 3 hours late in the evening or the whole evening will have gone by the time they arrive. They are really stealing the time that you put aside for them.

    • I like what I’m reading. We need to stop protecting people from the natural consequences of their decisions. I’ve learned to never let one couple have the tickets with them or we will all miss the play or not be allowed in until intermission. Another couple can be trusted with dessert but not appetizers or salad because we must start without them. THE KEY IS TO DO THESE THINGS KINDLY. “No problem, we knew you were on your way.” Accept people as they are. Change YOUR OWN behavior. You will feel less like a victim and more empowered to be able to implement the plan. If you are grumpy or snooty about how well you perform and how poorly they perform, that’s not kindness, or forgiveness. But the late comers need to be the ones who experience a problem–i.e. missing three courser or one entire act–not everyone else. Kindly accept that that might suit them.

  • I’ve been late to work all my life (I’m 59) and last year I solved the problem with one simple change. I started showering at NIGHT instead of in the morning. I have a simple mid-length hairstyle that I only have to brush in the morning, so I just shower right before or after dinner to give my hair time to dry before bedtime. That’s it. I also do some of the tips listed here, like laying out my clothes the night before and preparing my lunch. I also set my alarm for 6:45 so I can hit the snooze once or twice (another trick if you are slow to wake up). I go out the door at 7:30 and my drive to work is about 15-20 minutes, depending on traffic. It allows an extra 10 minutes to park and take the elevator up to my office. My boss is impressed! I used to stroll in 5-10 minutes late every day, but not anymore. The key is figuring out WHY you are late and fixing that.

  • I appreciate this article as someone who has always struggled to arrive at events on time. Fortunately my tardiness does not typically hold things up (e.g., church) but it’s annoying to myself at least in addition to being embarrassing. It seems that “on-timers” assume that latecomers are either lazy or inconsiderate or both, but another reason (not excuse) to consider is *thoroughness*. There are certain things that can’t “not” get done before one leaves the house, which of course vary depending on the time of day but all take “x” amount of time to do – e.g., making the bed, getting in a workout (and showering afterward), sitting down to a proper breakfast (even if it’s just a bowl of oatmeal), brushing one’s teeth, packing a lunch (or making a smoothie to drink in the car), making coffee for the road, taking the dog outside one last time – in addition to basic grooming and making oneself presentable in public (which does matter). And these are just for someone who doesn’t have kids. One person asked me once, “Seriously, what takes so long?” But it’s not any one thing; it’s a lot of little things that add up.

    Some of these things can be done the night before…some not… and one could perhaps try getting up earlier; but it seems that no matter how much prep work is done, the rule applies that “tasks expand to fit the amount of time allotted.” Suggestion #1 is only so helpful as acknowledging consequences doesn’t get things done any faster. And as for picking out an outfit the night before, this can help but doesn’t always work. I lose so much water weight during the night that clothing might fit a good bit differently in the morning, so an outfit I that I might pass over the night before because it’s a little tight…might fit just fine the next morning, or it might still not.

    I have started allowing an extra 15-30 minutes to drive places and adjust my departure times accordingly, with mixed success. Even with the best-laid plans there’s often “something” that takes up that extra few minutes…putting together a different outfit…realizing my sunglasses are not in my purse even though it’s where I keep them…remembering to refill my water bottle…or just simply walking outside from the house to the car, it seems. Obviously I don’t have a perfect solution to all of this but maybe others can identify and even those who don’t might understand a little better what things look like from “the other side”.

    • Not to sound harsh, but these ARE excuses, not reasons. There is a time management problem here that I think some people are just better at doing. You put all these little “reasons” before the consideration of anyone else’s feelings or their time.
      If you are really concerned about this, maybe some of your “on-time friends” can help you if you ask them how they manage to be on time. That’s what friends are for. Being there for you and helping bounce ideas off of. Please don’t take offense as this advice was given to try to help, not criticize. :)

      • This is assuming I have friends :), but your last point is well-taken….I asked my husband once what my problem was and his reply was, “High standards.” As I define an “excuse” as a substitute reason that is made up in order to hide the real one, I can’t imagine a “true” reason apart from deliberately wishing to inconvenience people. I also liken the explaining of lateness to someone good at being on time, to an overweight person trying to explain to someone naturally thin why it’s so hard to lose weight. It’s not impossible and I’ve been making strides, but I expected this thread to be full of comments about how awful late people are and I wanted to offer some counter-points. And it does seem that a few people identify.

    • I can think of a few things you can do. 1) put it 2 outfits at night to accommodate your water weight change. 2) make a list of what you need in the morning and do as many of those the night before as possible (filling the water bottle, putting sunglasses in purse, etc) 3) use that list in the morning to keep yourself on track. 4) time the things you have to do in the morning – after you figure that out set timers for each task so you don’t “expand to fill the time.” 5) lastly, if you are running out of time, skip some things that don’t HAVE to be done (making the bed). btw, I am also someone who has trouble getting places on time, so I’m not one of those “perfect people” telling you what to do.

      • I’ll keep these in mind…I haven’t had much occasion lately to be late OR on time as I only leave the house to grocery shop or do other non-appointment things – not just because of COVID-19 but because I don’t work outside the home and as we moved last year I just don’t have many engagements. And a lot of days my husband tries to take up the slack, with the dog, coffee, making the bed etc. The examples I listed are generalities I’ve noticed but which may not specifically apply to every occasion. Another example might be not being able to allow extra time to get out the door in the afternoon/evening because I just got home and only have “x” amount of time to freshen up…or because I just finished a task of indeterminate duration (e.g., painting a room, making bread – time expands, remember?) that could not be left unfinished. It may seem like I keep piling on the excuses but so often it seems my best efforts come to naught.

  • I am in Florida in the middle of LOVEBUG season. Many on the front of my car. I hosed the car, used a thick coat of SCRUBBING BUBBLED, a wet dryer sheet, scrubber hosed off. May have to repeat but bugs are gone.

  • I always make my arrival time in my calendar 1/2 hour before it really is, and I also schedule my travel time in my calendar adding an extra 15 minutes for traffic, or the drawbridge, train, etc. I schedule all of that into my calendar and set alarms as well. I can’t remember the last time I was late.

  • I always add 1/2 hour to the time I need to be there, and I schedule the appropriate travel time on my calendar with reminders for all. Never late, and have a hard time tolerating people that are..

    • I always set my clocks in house and in car 15 minutes ahead. Then I try to ignore the fact. It drives my husband crazy, but it does help to get someplace on time. I also use the trick of putting an earlier time to be somewhere on the calendar. I don’t know why, but I use to look at a time on my calendar and in my mind that was the time I would end up going out of the house. Now that I trick myself, I do a lot better being on time.

  • I have 2 brothers who are always late. One of them when he was in high school would give him a time which was actually 30 minutes ahead of time when he was going places with groups. He caught on fast as to what was going on. It’s interesting now that he’s married my sister in law is just as bad. I think sometimes it’s just over scheduling with him or last minute stuff. They also have a bunch of kids which can be a factor being late for family stuff. Actually both of my brothers involved have kids .

    • I know my mind doesn’t work as well in the morning. I do my lunch the night before if I’m work. Make sure my purse/work bag is ready the night before. Lay my clothes out the night before. I also am able to lay out my makeup on my desk the night before with all my little related gadgets. It’s kind of what I have to do. I’ve always been one who perks up more in afternoon evening hours. I’m not a total crab at. I’m just not very chatty early in the morning.

  • Figure out your plan to arrive on time, and add 15 minutes. Then target to be ready and out the door at that time. Take along a good book, catch up on your texts or emails on your phone, or find some other good use of your time if you arrive too early. This way arriving early isn’t a waste of your time.

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