Why Being on Time makes you More Productive

Ever find yourself running late? Do you ever find yourself off track and not following your schedule like you are supposed to? Start the day on the wrong foot? Once you are late to one thing, you start a momentum in the wrong direction and may end up being late to the meeting or appointment, then again after that. This can sometimes be easily overcome and your day is on back on track, but at other times is not. Why take the risk?


We have all been there, except for the handful of people who told me they have never been late, or at least only late because of an extreme emergency. If that’s you, congrats and kudos to you, now for the rest of us here, please continue reading. There are ways to ensure you can be on time more often, whether you are late every day and to everything or late to a few things here and there. Personally, I fall into period of being late more often and do better at times. Typically, it depends on how busy I am. The more appointments and scheduled events as well as to dos I have, the more likely I am to be late. If I get overwhelmed and behind schedule, I am less likely to follow my schedule consistently and also more likely to be off track which therefore leads to both being late to appointments/scheduled events and also undone tasks. Here are five strategies to improve your ability to be on time

  1. Make sure there is time to rest and recover, to have fun, relax, reflect, and do whatever energizes you
  2. Prioritize only the most important tasks. If you have 100+ to dos in one day, shoot for the top 5 or 10 and then continue on with the next highest priorities if the top priority tasks are done
  3. Build in extra time in your schedule to leave margin so there is room to go off track slightly. For example, schedule an arrival to a place 5 or 10 minutes early to ensure a better chance of being on time
  4. Set your mind to being on time. If you don’t think it’s important to be on time, you won’t make it a priority to be on time. Don’t say you will try to be on time, say you will.
  5. Find someone to keep you accountable to being on time. If all else fails, have someone you hold yourself to be accountable to being on time. At work, this usually takes care of itself, but not always depending on your job. For other aspects of life as well, this can be helpful, but you have to be honest with yourself and the person holding you accountable.


The ability to be on time is often a lost art, but is still very valuable. I do not have it down perfect yet, but I have made improvements over the years as I practiced the strategies that I have mentioned. If it does not come naturally to us or if we have gotten into the habit of being late, it will take practice to master. Honesty, I do believe that being on time is a skill and is very beneficial. If you are on time, that means you are following at least some kind of a schedule, even if it is not detailed. Please let me know your experiences with timeliness, what comes easy, and what is a struggle for you.


Related Posts:

  1. Why Keeping a Consistent Schedule is Productive


The Importance of Scheduling Everything

The Power of Focus

     I have already touched upon the drawbacks of distraction. Just to reiterate, distractions are very detrimental to productivity, efficiency, and for our general happiness. One thing I can't stand is being interrupted. I don't like interruptions even if I have nothing that important to do. I can't stand being derailed from what I am doing, just to do something else and again lose all the time it takes to switch focus from one thing to another. This is how working for someone else can possibly be difficult because you have little control of how you spend your time and what to prioritize. This of course is a case by case basis and many factors come into play. In my work experience so far, I frequently have had one boss coming with a priority, coworkers with priorities, customer/client requests, and so on. Everyone wants your time and when you are paid by someone else, they have control of the time. This is the classic trading time for dollars of working a "9-5" which can take the form of all different hours but ultimately is the same thing. I say all of this to emphasize the value of focus.

     Focus is extremely important. Just as distractions can derail you, focus can save you time and accelerate your goals and tasks. The first step to finding your best focus is finding out when you focus best. One way to go about this is to track your time. Do a task that requires a good amount of focus but doesn't take too long. Also, this task must always take about the same amount of time. A good example is reading a page of a book (use the same book with a comparable amount of words). If you already know when your focus is best, then you can skip this step and go ahead with working the best time. Some tasks are better at certain times than others. Everyone is different and there are several studies that talk about when it's best to be creative, best to learn, best to do physical activity, etc. The best solution is to find what works for you. This can change throughout the course of your life as well. For example, I used to read in the morning but if I have to be at work early, then I don't have time to read and it is better to read in the evening even if it's not my ideal time.

     Whenever you can focus the best is the best way to set up your schedule. Of course most of us have circumstances that prevent us from creating our ideal schedule. It could be a job or various family factors such as small children or being a caretaker that can prevent us from creating our ideal schedule. Since we live in a world that is not ideal, we should not drive ourselves crazy trying to develop this ideal schedule!

     Another important thing to remember is to not try to do this all at once. It is best to do this little by little. Keep making consistent progress and you will find yourself with a close to ideal schedule that allows you to be very productive. This will take time. I am still tweaking my schedule frequently and have been keeping schedules for 14 years!

The Fallacy of "I Don't Have Time"

    So many people complain about not having time. In fact, I am guilty of this. I do it nearly everyday. My time is very scarce. Because of this, the tactics of time budgeting that I discussed earlier come in to play. It is important to realize how much time you actually have. The next question is how do you go about this? Upon completion of accurate record of time usage and budgeting, it then becomes pretty clear how much time is actually left. What you will likely find is that you have more time than you think, especially after you go through the exercise of actually making a budget and a schedule. This was true for my experience.

    When you find out you have more time than you actually think, you then realize “I don’t have time” is not actually the case. So then you refer to your longer term goals and focus on what you really want to accomplish. These are the goals you want to make time for. Assuming you are able to find extra time after this process, the next step is to train yourself to stop saying the following words “I don’t have time.” This is extremely difficult to break. I am still trying to do that! This could take quite a while to master. I will let you know when I get there, I have not yet!

     Now if you can’t find any extra time at all, you need to reevaluate your schedule. You are then way too busy and need to cut things out. This would be a good time to reread the “Cut the Clutter” post. Even if you are not too busy, it is a good time to reevaluate the activities. It is important to re-evaluate your activities regularly as life is always changing and we are going through different stages.

Cutting the Clutter

     There are many different types of clutter. The most familiar type of clutter is physical clutter. Some of us have clutter in one room while others may have clutter everywhere. I personally hate physical clutter and how it gets in the way of things. There is clutter for our time too! Just as our living and work spaces can get cluttered, so can our schedules. This can happen if we don't follow our schedules. 

     What would you consider to be time clutter? I define it as anything you don't really want in your schedule that is taking up your time, just as physical clutter is. For example, your life might be cluttered with social media. If you go on and off of Facebook 20 times a day, but only for 3 minutes each time, you are still spending an hour a day on Facebook. Also, not to mention the time it takes for your focus to come in and out. This doesn't just refer to leisure activities. It is anything that takes too much of your time that is not necessary. Here are steps you could take to cut time clutter:

         First, you need to determine what the clutter is in your schedule. A good way to do this is to do a proper time analysis. If you are making a time budget, you are already on the right track to doing this. Visually seeing where your time is going as compared to just thinking how you want to spend it creates a visual that is as clear as seeing a room full of junk.

        Next, you have to take action and actually work on cutting out the clutter! Some activities are easier to cut, such as watching too much TV, going on social media too often, staying in bed too long in the morning, etc. Not to say that changing habits like this is easy, but at least you don't need to discuss it with someone else in any way.  Changing your terms with a commitment will take a little more time and require more to do. You will have to discuss this with others that are involved. 

         Lastly, you need to monitor your time and time budget on a regular basis so you know you are staying on track and following through on your commitment to cut the clutter.

     Personally for me, I know there were a number of things that I needed to cut and there are still more to cut. I cut back on some church activities, some social media, and found a more efficent way to do records and to journal. I also cut back on dead time in which I don't really do anything or I think about what I need to do. Cutting the clutter has made a huge difference in my life and will do the same for you!

The Importance of Scheduling Everything

     You are probably making a schedule if you find this blog appealing. How detailed is the schedule that you make? Some people schedule only appointments and meetings. Others schedule every place they go. Still other people schedule much more than that. I've tried various methods over the past 15 years when it comes to scheduling and found that the more detailed I get, the more beneficial it is for me. 

    I am not going to ask anyone to do what I do. This is what works for me, which very well may work for others, but definitely not everyone. I schedule just about everything. I schedule the obvious - work, activities, commitments, etc. I schedule tasks and chores. I schedule journaling, record keeping, personal care, and even things like eating. It's not like I am going to forget to eat, but to me it makes it clear how much time I actually have. For example, if on average it takes me 2 minutes to brush my teeth, I will keep that in the schedule so I can stay on track. Again, an approach this detailed may not be for everyone. For me it works very well, although not perfect. My most productive days are when I follow the schedule as closely as possible. I have tried scheduling out a lot of individual activities such as brushing teeth, brushing hair, taking out the trash, etc. However, that can be very cumbersome to actually schedule out and change if I have to, so I have made a lump event to include these activities because I have found that it has become irrelevant of which time the tasks actually get done, just as long as they get done. Scheduling enough time for all of these tasks such as a morning routine is important to have the right amount of time scheduled.

    A question that may come up on scheduling everything is how do I know how long something will take? Now there are many approaches to this, but my favorite is actually tracking my time. I track my time in a very detailed manner as well. Again, the best approach to this is a preference, based on whatever your needs are going to be. It is up to you on what works best. I use aTimeLogger to track my time, and I find it extremely useful to see how my time is spent. I find this process critical to developing a schedule that is accurate and actually works. My schedule is still a work in progress, but is constantly improving.