Can you get to work on time? Or are you perpetually tardy? Read these five tips for being punctual. Then pick one or two. It’s guaranteed to reduce your daily stress.
Ms. Sneed Is Late Again
As she pulled into the parking lot, our favorite fourth grade teacher heard it: the bell. Oh no. Late again.
Frantically, she turned into the last available parking space and tore off her seatbelt. Then Ms. Sneed grabbed her book bag and coffee, opened the door, and sprinted toward the building. Fumbling with the door, she spilled some coffee into the book bag. Trying to look composed, she walked quickly toward her classroom.
“Good morning, Ms. Sneed,” said the principal. The teacher managed a grim smile and greeting. Yes, she really needed to get to work on time.
5 Ways Get to Work on Time
At 11:35, Ms. Sneed’s kids filed out of the classroom. The teacher grabbed her lunch bag and sighed. Yep. She still felt rattled. For months, she had worked on work-life balance. First, she limited grading. Second, she stopped taking work home (most of the time). Finally, she quit her classroom decorating habit. But if she was late every day, what did it matter?
When she got to the teacher’s lounge, Ms. Sneed plopped down at a table of upper-elementary teachers. “What’s bothering you?” asked her co-teacher, Mr. Frank.
“Late again. This time, though, I was greeted in the hall by the principal.”
Mr. Frank grimaced. “Yikes.”
“I was looking at the teacher evaluation form, and it clearly spells out that we must be on time. It says something about demonstrating a pattern of unexcused arrivals. Unfortunately, that’s me! What can I do?”
1. Shoot for an Early Arrival
As she thoughtfully nibbled a French fry, Mrs. Price looked up. “I had the same problem for years,” she said. “Finally, I decided to get to school 15 minutes early every day. Then even if I was late for my arrival goal, I still showed up on time.”
Ms. Sneed nodded and grabbed her notebook. “Arrive Early,” she wrote.
2. Be Reasonable About Your Commute
“I had problems with tardiness too,” said Ms. Ivers. “Since I take the expressway to work, traffic became a problem. Especially during construction. Unfortunately, I wasn’t building in a buffer for problems on the road. And, you guessed it, I couldn’t get to work on time. Similarly, I added 15 minutes to my estimated commuting time. That really helped.”
3. Get Ready the Night Before and Get to Work on Time
Mr. Frank giggled. “Since everyone is offering tips for being punctual, I guess I will too.
“My late-to-work story is different. I was only late on certain days. You know what I’m talking about. The days when I couldn’t decide which outfit to wear. After I began setting my clothes out the night before, things improved.”
All of the teachers smiled and nodded. Yes, they knew all about wardrobe indecision. Funny how choosing an outfit or making lunch make it impossible to get to work on time.
“I’d like to piggyback on that thought,” said Mrs. Cordova. “For me, getting to work on time requires meal prep the night before. First, my lunch – and my kids’ – need to be packed. Second, I need to know what I’m getting out for dinner. And if it’s a crockpot meal, everything needs to be chopped and measured the day before. Finally, I even prepare breakfast foods ahead of time. At my house, we freeze pancakes and small egg muffins.”
4. Set Your Alarm Earlier
Mrs. Abdullah spoke up. “Maybe you could try setting your alarm a little earlier. That way, you’ll have extra time in the morning.”
“And if you’re like me, you’ll need to set two alarms,” laughed Mr. Dvorchek. “I’m famous for hitting the snooze button.”
5. Don’t Try to Do “One More Thing” – Or You Won’t Get to Work on Time
Ms. Sneed began to relax. All of her colleagues struggled with the late-to-work syndrome too. Yet they had found solutions – and were willing to give her tips for being punctual.
“These are all great ideas to get to work on time,” she said. “I believe I will try a combination of these. In addition, I have a bad habit. Whenever I feel like I’m running on time, I try to do one more thing. Usually it’s the laundry. Ultimately, I need to have a drop-dead time that I absolutely must leave.”
“My one-more-thing,” said Mrs. Brown, “is school stuff. I like to catch up on parent emails and post assignments on Google Classroom before I leave for school. But sometimes that makes me late. I like your idea of a drop-dead time. Maybe if I watch the clock and leave by then, I’ll be on time each day. After all, work stuff can actually be done at work!”
Ms. Sneed’s Colleagues Give Some Support
“Thank you, everyone,” said Ms. Sneed. “Your tips for being punctual – and knowing that you have struggled with this too – make me feel so much better.”
“Let’s support one another,” said Mr. Frank. “Perhaps we can try a short-term goal. How about we all promise to pick a strategy or two. Then we will get to work on time every day for the next week.”
“What happens if we don’t achieve that goal?” asked Ms. Sneed.
“Doughnuts,” her co-teacher responded. “Whoever doesn’t meet the goal brings doughnuts. And then we figure out what went wrong and try again.”
That famous teacher smile spread across Ms. Sneed’s face. How she loved her colleagues! They made teaching enjoyable.