1. Schedule and block. Put the appointment in your calendar and block out the duration of the engagement. This way you will not create overlapping commitments that will get you into a time trap.
2. Run the clock backwards. If you have a meeting at 2pm and it is going to take you 35 minutes to get there and 10 minutes to organize your things for the meeting then you need to have a hard stop on whatever you are doing at 1:15pm. If you are that unconscious you can set an alarm on your phone or watch for that time.
3. The graceful exit. Here’s a great thing to say: “Excuse me, I hate to cut you off, but I have an appointment.” It is hard to cut someone off, but they will respect you for sticking to a schedule. The more successful the person you are dealing with, the stricter they stick to a schedule. This not only gets you out of the current obligation, but garners you respect as you demonstrate you respect for time.
4. Be a pessimist. Assume everything will take a little longer than your first estimate. This will either make you right on time for everything, or it’ll make you a little early. People who run early are calm, organized, and always ready. Not a bad place to be.
5. Prioritize. Some people are late because they simply don’t have enough time to do everything. The only way to change this is to stop doing so much. Face the reality that you cannot get your whole list done. Figure out what’s most important and just get that done. Tell the people who depend on you that you can only do what you have time for, and things at the bottom of their list of priorities will not get done: a reality check for everyone in your life.
6. Take a good hard look in the mirror. Why do you let yourself be late? It is disrespectful and makes you look unorganized and out of control. Why are you not getting control over your time? So much about being on time is actually about self-knowledge. Often, we are scared to make the decisions that we must make in order to get control over our time and become someone who runs on schedule. But there is no other way to run a life. To run on schedule is to plan the life you want to live and execute that plan.