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9 Habits of Very Punctual People

9 Habits of Very Punctual People

Maybe it’s just me, but my generation (we’ll say current 13–30-year-olds) seems to be suffering from an epidemic of tardiness. I have given up on expecting people to be on time—I simply assume they’ll show up late to everything. Despite that, I’m a very punctual person and typically end up waiting for others. Sometimes my friends ask how I can so reliably be on time, and since my usual snarky response of “I show up on time” isn’t very helpful, these are 9 habits of very punctual people.

1. They Give Buffer Time for Themselves

This means that if they need to be somewhere 15 minutes away, they don’t leave 15 minutes in advance. They leave 20 or 25 minutes in advance. Why? Because you never know what might come up. You could have to find parking, could realize you forgot something, could run into a friend on the way—the possibilities are endless. By giving themselves buffer time, punctual people ensure that even if something last minute comes up, they’ll still be on time or very close to it.

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2. They Stay Organized

Punctuality isn’t just about showing up places on time; it’s a lifestyle. Punctual people will typically be reliably punctual because of their other habits, including being highly organized. They tend to keep up-to-date calendars of what’s going on, and know how long it’s going to take to get to those places. They also don’t schedule things too close together to avoid possible overlap, and design their schedules to minimize risky travel time.

3. They’re Realistic About How Long Things Take

This relates to buffer time, but it’s important that if you’re going to be punctual you know how long things will take. We tend to overestimate how quickly we can get somewhere, so a good rule of thumb is to add a few minutes or a certain percentage to how long you think it will take. We always imagine traveling in a perfect situation with no traffic or distractions, and that simply doesn’t exist.

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4. They’re Comfortable with Extra Time While Waiting

Like I said, I pretty much always expect other people to be late at this point—and I’m rarely wrong. Luckily I carry my Kindle almost everywhere so I have something to read while I wait. Other punctual people will likely do something similar, either by working on their iPad, reading a book, checking the news on their phone, or responding to emails. Whatever it is, punctual people have to be okay with waiting for others since they’ll usually end up doing so.

5. They Wake Up Early

Being punctual means being on time for others’ expectations of you, but it also means being on time for your own deadlines. That means that when a punctual person says they’ll wake up at 7am, they usually do. And conversely, people who are able to reliably wake up very early in the morning tend to be punctual. It all goes back to procrastinating—people who are punctual don’t procrastinate leaving for things, and they don’t procrastinate waking up.

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6. They Sleep Well

Not only do they wake up early, but they sleep better in general. Like I said there’s an element of procrastination to showing up late, and there’s also an element of procrastination in staying up late. People who procrastinate leaving for things tend to be late, and people who procrastinate sleeping tend not to sleep well. People who are punctual, conversely, go to bed on time and wake up feeling well rested and ready to seize the day.

7. They Don’t Procrastinate

On that note, they don’t procrastinate in general. People who show up on time and are comfortable with waiting will also be the ones to turn their work in early and not have to worry about it as opposed to scrambling at the last second. They know they’ll be stressed if they’re running behind, so they avoid getting stressed out at work just as in showing up.

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8. They’re Not Rushed

Ultimately what this means is that punctual people aren’t rushed. It seems odd that you could leave earlier for something and not be rushed, but it’s true. When you have no risk of not making it on time you don’t need to worry while you’re in transit, so you don’t feel rushed. It takes a lot of the stress out of getting around because you know you’ll make it there on time even if something comes up, so you don’t need to speed or freak out on the way.

9. They Can’t Stand It When You’re Late

This is less a habit, and more a reason to adopt the other eight. When you’re on time for everyone else, you hope for a similar courtesy. If someone is agreeing to meet up with you, the least you can do is not waste their time by being late, so naturally anyone who has to wait for you is going to get annoyed. And punctual people end up doing a lot of waiting. As a policy I’ll tend to leave after 5–10 minutes of waiting without being warned—it’s simply not worth anyone’s time to stand around waiting for someone who doesn’t have the courtesy to be on time.

So hopefully you can apply some of these 8 habits, and keep the 9th one in mind. Woody Allen said that “80% of life is showing up” but I disagree. It should be “80% of life is showing up on time.”

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Nat Eliason

Writer and Host of Nat Chat

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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