How to Be On Time, Every Time

I have this friend, we’ll call her “Late Kate” (See what I did there?). Kate is beautiful, fun and thoughtful. I love being around her. She also has a reputation for always being late.

Kate is always late to dinners and get togethers. Her sons are regularly late for school. As they say, Kate probably will be late for her own funeral.

My first interaction with Kate every time we’re together is her apologizing for being late.

Kate is so consistently late that I plan for it, either arriving a bit tardy myself, telling her an earlier time or bringing something to read while I wait for her.

I bet you have a Late Kate friend too. Heck, you may even be Late Kate.

I am Compulsively Early Kenna. I remember my Dad telling me when I was a girl that being five minutes late was the same as being five hours late. Of course, someone who is always early wants to understand the Late Kates in my life.

Perhaps I’ve watched one too many episodes of Dr. Phil, but I do think the show is where I learned long ago that people who are consistently late are arrogant. They have flexible perspectives of time because they think nothing starts until they arrive.

This “wisdom” made sense to me, so I adopted it as truth until recently when I learned that there is an alternative.

I was listening to the book Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight. Knight calls herself the “anti-guru,” with her book helping you to stop self-sabotaging and get what you want. I loved the fun, insightful self-help book.

In the book, Knight discusses her theory about why people are always late. She could have been describing my sweet Late Kate when she talked about her friend who is always late. The thing that struck me is that Knight doesn’t think it’s arrogance at all that makes these people late. Instead, she thinks they just don’t know how long it takes to do anything.

Knight describes her “Late Kate” friend saying “I’m jumping in the shower. See you in 15!” She then tells readers that this friend has never in her life taken a 15 minute shower. She’s already late when she starts getting ready.

How can you Late Kates stop this maddening habit? Knight encourages you to actually time how long it takes you to do basic things. She suggests you keep a log over the course of several days to a week, documenting how long it takes you to do things like get ready for work, commute, etc. You then can average this time to determine how long it takes you to perform routine tasks. From there, it’s just basic math to determine when you need to start or leave to be on time.

If Knight’s practical approach is just too much for you, here are some other ways you can guarantee you’ll always be on time:

Determine what makes you late

Are you looking for your keys, trying to pack a bag or preparing your lunch? Determine what seems to always make you late, then do those things in advance.

Prep in advance

Getting everything ready in advance will help you start your day prepared for timeliness.

Not even sure what to prepare in advance? Check out my post on 8 Ways to Set Your Day Up for Success.

Get up earlier

If you’re always running late in the morning, you can do one of two things:

  1. Wake up earlier
  2. Eliminate some of your “get ready” routine.

These really are the only options. I choose to sleep later and never fix my hair. It’s all about priorities.

Know where you’re going

There isn’t a lot of reason to get lost anymore. All of our phones have maps on them that speak the directions right to us while we’re in our cars. Not sure exactly where you’re going or how long it will take you to get there? Look it up in advance and plan accordingly.


This is the one I do. I always overestimate the time it takes me to get anywhere. I assume that every place in the world is at least 30 minutes from my house. This often means I arrive to appointments early, but being early just means I get started sooner or I have time to read a book. I’d rather be early than stress out about being late.

Whether you try Sarah Knight’s time tracking method or just try to pull it together on your own, following the advice in this post will help you avoid being a Late Kate. But, if you’re not willing to even try to be on time, do us all a favor and just stop apologizing. Clearly, you like being late.


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