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How to be on time for work: 10 tips to improve your routine

A woman driving in a car.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes  

Punctuality may not be everyone’s strong suit, but being late for work can have serious consequences if it turns into a habit.  

If you find yourself constantly rushing out the door and making it to the office with just minutes to spare, check out these 10 tips to learn how to be on time for work. 

10 tips for how to get to work on time

1. Time your commute.

Whether you travel by car, bus, train or bicycle, you should have an idea of how long your commute to work typically takes.

Determine what time you need to leave for work by:

  • Timing your commute with a clock or stopwatch.
  • Recording your results for at least one week so you can account for any days when traffic may be heavier.

Once you figure out your “leave by” time, you’ll have a better idea of when you should wake up to allow enough time to get ready and get through the commute.

2. Allow for extra time during your commute.

A few red lights, an unexpected detour or a train passing through your route can throw off your estimated arrival time. This is especially true for those who live in a high-traffic area.  

To be prepared for potential delays, it’s a good idea to add at least 15 minutes to your commute. If you live close to work or in an area where there isn’t much traffic, 5-10 minutes of buffer time will likely be enough.  

3. Stay up to date on traffic.

If you live in a city or suburban area, traffic conditions can be difficult to predict. You can stay informed about traffic along your route by:

  • Watching the local news.
  • Checking traffic apps.
  • Listening to the radio.
  • Reading state or city DOT websites.

4. Check the weather forecast. 

If you live in an area where rain or snow is common, keep an eye on the forecast. Snow and rain can slow down traffic, so plan to give yourself some more time on days when the weather may be iffy 

Check the seven-day forecast at the beginning of each workweek and note any days where severe weather is likely. Then, check back the night before to gauge the severity and set your alarm earlier to give yourself extra commute time. 

5. Gather office essentials the night before.

Getting to work on time is easier if you plan ahead. Instead of waiting until you wake up, streamline your morning routine by tackling some of the “prep work” the night before.

This could include doing things like:

  • Setting out your clothes.
  • Packing your lunch.
  • Prepping your breakfast.
  • Packing your work laptop and/or work phone.

6. Get a good night’s sleep. 

An effective sleep schedule will be your first line of defense against oversleeping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least seven hours of sleep daily for adults ages 18 to 60.  

If you’re struggling to fall asleep, a good first step is to establish a morning routine to regain control of your sleep cycle. Going to bed early will put you in a better state of mind to take on your morning routine. 

You can do this by:

  • Going to bed at the same time every night.
  • Putting your phone, tablet or laptop down at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Avoiding caffeine in the late afternoon.

7. Set an alarm. 

Set an alarm 10 to 15 minutes earlier than you intend to get up. This way, even if you hit the snooze button, you will still get out of bed on time 

If you have a habit of overusing the snooze feature, set multiple alarms so you don’t fall back into deep sleep. 

If you struggle with leaving the comfort of your bed, try placing your phone or alarm clock on the other side of the room. You’ll be forced to get up to disable the alarm and will be less likely to linger in bed.

 8. Reduce distractions. 

Avoid getting sidetracked by social media, television shows or other phone-related distractions in the morning. Consider setting time limits on social media and other apps to stop the “scrolling temptation” while you’re trying to get ready for work. 

9. Optimize your work schedule. 

If you can, strategically schedule your most important meetings and tasks in the late morning or afternoon. That way, if you’re a little delayed, you aren’t flustered or rushed when you get to the office. 

If possible, you can also consider working remotely for the start of your shift and going into the office later in the day. Doing so might help you avoid the rush and stress of a hectic morning, creating a smoother start to your day. 

Pro tip: In your work calendar, set your preferred work hours for a time frame when you know you’ll be online – even if you’re running a bit late – so people don’t schedule meetings before you start working. 

10. Find an accountability partner. 

No matter how many of these tips you build into your routine, there’s no way to guarantee you won’t ever be late again. However, finding an accountability partner can help you stay motivated and greatly increase your chances of being consistently on time for work.  

Ask your leader or co-worker to hold you accountable for getting to work on time. They might even have some additional tips that can help you meet your goal! 

Looking for more career tips?

From prioritizing tasks to reducing stress at work, check out our large collection of office-related blogs for more career advice from Schneider associates. 
About the author
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Lance Kaster is a Corporate Recruiter whose journey with Schneider started back in 2016. He started as a member of the driver recruiting team, where he was responsible for building and managing a candidate pool of prospective company drivers.

He moved to the company's corporate recruiting team in 2021. In his current role, Lance specializes in recruiting candidates for office positions.

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