For a small business owner, there’s no such thing as ‘fashionably late’. Recently, we surveyed 803 US homeowners and found that showing up on time is the #2 behavior that positively reflects the credibility of a service provider.

Are you prone to making unrealistic plans? Are you easily sidetracked? Or, do you struggle with motivation? For the chronically late business owner aspiring to be more organized and efficient, here are 5 tips to help make sure you’re never late again.

Become a scheduling master

You can’t very well master a schedule if you don’t know how much time to set aside for each task in your day. Start by mapping out how long everything in your day takes. How long is your commute? How long does answering emails take? How long is each specific work task? Once you’ve laid out everything in a list, you’ll know how to make realistic plans. 

Plan for tomorrow today

Before you settle in for the night, make sure all the items necessary to start your work day are in one place, ready to go when you need them. Your clothes are laid out, your keys and wallet/purse are waiting by the door, and any necessary equipment, tools, or documents needed for the job are at the ready. You’ll save countless minutes if you don’t have to rush around looking for everything.

Overestimating is your friend

It’s always better to overshoot when estimating time for a job rather than shooting low. You can’t predict when you’ll hit a traffic snarl, so add a good 10 – 15 minutes to your commute depending on how far you must go. Same with your work tasks or meetings. Add a few minutes of buffer time in your schedule between those so you can make time for breaks and possible complications. Don’t get sucked into an essential job during that time, but rather use those few minutes to catch up on a few emails or to return a call.

Know when you’re at your best

Are you a morning person or a night owl or somewhere in between? Pay attention to what time of day your energy and concentration are at their peak. Plan the most difficult tasks during those times. Leave the easier, mundane tasks for when your alertness is starting to wane.

Know when to quit

Today’s always-on-the-go, always plugged-in society has bred many a workaholic. But to be punctual, you must know when to stop. Unless it’s an emergency, quit a job at the scheduled time. Otherwise, you risk pushing back other jobs or getting stuck in rush hour traffic, or even worse, missing out on much-needed family and rest time. A well-rested person is much better at planning and sticking to a schedule than someone who’s perpetually tired and stressed. Bottom line – treat yourself well, and the clock will be much kinder to you.