An Overview of the Punctual Person and What You Can Learn from Them

Maybe it's just me, but my generation (current 13–30-year-olds) appears to be plagued by a tardiness epidemic. I've given up expecting people to be on time and instead assume they'll be late for everything. Despite this, I am a very punctual person who frequently finds myself waiting for others. Because my usual snarky response of “I show up on time” isn't very helpful when my friends ask how I can be so consistently on time, here are 9 habits of very punctual people.

1. They Schedule Buffer Time for Themselves

This means that if they need to be somewhere 15 minutes away, they do not leave 15 minutes ahead of time. They leave 20 or 25 minutes ahead of time. Why? Because you never know what will happen. You might have to look for parking, realize you forgot something, or run into a friend on the way—the possibilities are limitless. Punctual people ensure that even if something comes up at the last minute, they will still be on time or very close to it by allowing themselves buffer time.

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2. They Maintain Their Organization

Punctuality is more than just showing up on time; it is a way of life. Punctual people are usually reliable because of their other habits, such as being highly organized. They usually keep up-to-date calendars of what's going on and know how long it will take to get to those locations. They also don't schedule things too close together to avoid potential overlap, and they plan their days to minimize risky travel time.

3. They are realistic about the time it takes to complete tasks

This relates to buffer time, but it's critical to know how long things will take if you're going to be on time. We have a tendency to overestimate our ability to travel quickly, so a good rule of thumb is to add a few minutes or a percentage to how long you think it will take. We always imagine traveling in an ideal situation with no traffic or distractions, which simply does not exist.

4. They are at ease with having extra time while waiting

As I previously stated, I almost always expect other people to be late at this point—and I'm rarely wrong. Fortunately, I keep my Kindle with me almost everywhere, so I can read while I wait. Others who are on time will most likely do something similar, such as work on their iPad, read a book, check the news on their phone, or respond to emails. Whatever it is, punctual people must be okay with waiting for others because they will almost always have to do so.

5. They Get Up Early

Being punctual entails not only meeting the expectations of others, but also meeting your own deadlines. That is, if a punctual person says they will wake up at 7 a.m., they usually do. People who can consistently wake up very early in the morning, on the other hand, tend to be punctual. It all comes back to procrastination—people who are punctual don't procrastinate leaving for things, and they don't procrastinate getting out of bed.

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6. They Have a Restful Sleep

They not only get up earlier, but they also sleep better. As previously stated, there is an element of procrastination in showing up late, as well as an element of procrastination in staying up late. People who procrastinate leaving for things are more likely to be late, and those who procrastinate sleeping are less likely to sleep well. Punctual people, on the other hand, go to bed on time and wake up feeling well rested and ready to face the day.

7. They do not procrastinate

On that note, they generally do not procrastinate. People who arrive on time and are willing to wait will also be the ones who turn in their work early and not have to worry about it, as opposed to scrambling at the last minute. They know they'll be stressed if they're late, so they avoid getting stressed out at work, just as they avoid getting stressed out when they're late.

8. They are not hurried

Ultimately, this means that punctual people are not hurried. It may appear strange that you could leave earlier for something and not feel rushed, but it is true. When there is no risk of missing your stop, you don't have to worry about it while you're on the road, so you don't feel rushed. It alleviates a lot of the stress of getting around because you know you'll get there on time even if something unexpected happens, so you don't need to speed or freak out on the way.

9. They Can't Take It When You're Late

This is less of a habit and more of an incentive to adopt the other eight. When you're on time for everyone else, you hope for the same courtesy from others. If you agree to meet someone, the least you can do is not waste their time by being late, so anyone who has to wait for you will be irritated. And those who are punctual end up doing a lot of waiting. As a general rule, I'll leave after 5–10 minutes of waiting without warning—simply it's 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 put some of these eight habits into practice while keeping the ninth in mind. I disagree with Woody Allen's statement that “80 percent of life is showing up.” It should read, “80% of life is showing up on time.”

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