ask the readers: how can I stop being late?

A reader writes:

I seem to always be running late and I hate it. I am one of those people who absolutely loves to be early to things, but I can never seem to make it to work on time. Usually I’m only running about 5 minutes late at the most, but at least once or twice a month I run 10-15 minutes late.

Nothing I do seems to help. If I set my alarm for an earlier time, I sleep through it or snooze it a bunch because I just can’t seem to get up. Or, if I do get up early, then I can’t find my shoes, or my cat gets sick and I have to clean it, or traffic is backed up and I’m stuck behind that one slow driver. If I leave the house early, I seem to always have to run back for something. I’ve tried setting out everything I need the night before, but it feels like something always happens.

I don’t have one of those jobs where if I’m not there on time something is going to fall through the cracks; we’re usually scheduled at least 45 minutes before we have to be on desk, but I don’t want to count on that. Every time I’m early is wonderful and I love it, but it never seems to last. My punches are perfect for a week and then I’m running late for the next two. What can I do to get better about this?

This is a perfect question to get readers to weigh in on. Readers, what’s your advice?

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 768 comments… read them below }

  1. Temperance*

    Serious question: why are you so stressed about being a few minutes late when you don’t really need to be there “on time”?

    It sounds like you’re not getting enough sleep at night, or good enough sleep (probably because you’re stressed about being on time or early?), which in turn leads you to sleep later than you would like, which stresses you out and keeps you up ….

    1. LSCO*

      I can’t speak to the OP, but I know in my case it’s embarrassing, and can impact your reputation. Constantly being late for your scheduled start time (even if you’re not *needed* for another 45 minutes) gets noticed by bosses/colleagues/clients, and you can easily be branded as “the late one”.

      And again, in my experience, just “getting more sleep” doesn’t help. It’s not necessarily about sleeping in late, it’s the combination of things that just seem to pile up and mean you can’t leave the house on time. I struggle with it daily, and so far none of my strategies have really worked.

      1. Paige*

        Yep, many people also consider it both rude and selfish — even (sometimes especially) if it’s a loved one or friend who is chronically late.

        Here’s the thing: I’m guessing the OP somehow manages to be on time when going to the movies, or to concerts, or even early to get tickets, to make the flight out for vacation, etc.

        1. Temperance*

          I admit that I hate lateness when I’m supposed to meet someone – my MIL is chronically late to everything, and her lack of organization really frustrates me.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I do, too. But I’ve come to realize it’s not about me, and the few people in my life who are late honestly don’t do it on purpose. One has severe ADD, so I am happy if she remembers that we are supposed to meet and then actually shows up. The other gets anxious when she is getting ready to go somewhere. She will take forever getting dressed and then worry that it’s too dressy/not dressy enough. It’s not that she wants to be late; she’s just so anxious about going wherever she’s going that she ends up leaving late.

        2. Formica Dinette*

          Wow, your guess is mean. For many people who have problems being on time, it doesn’t matter what the event is.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            For many late people, though, it’s true. Lots of people are on time when they really have to be (flights, their own wedding, etc.). Certainly some people aren’t even then … but it’s very much true for a lot of people.

            1. Formica Dinette*

              But statistics and surveys do indicate that many people who have problems being on time are late when they really have to be on time.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Again, I don’t doubt that’s true for many people. But the other way also seems to be true, as I think a lot of us here can attest from watching people in our own lives.

                1. Koko*

                  I wonder how much of that appearance is actually driven by the fact that work typically starts early in the morning and more desirable things tend not to. It may *look* like they’re more capable of being on time for a desired activity vs work, but what may actually going going on is they’re more capable of being on time once they’ve already been awake for a few hours and struggle to be on time in the morning.

                  OP references trying to get up earlier and hitting snooze; she is describing my life, no matter how motivated I was to get up early the night before, my half-awake brain refuses to comply and just keeps hitting snooze. I am never late to anything that starts after 10 am, but I struggle greatly with being on time for anything before 10 am.

                2. fposte*

                  @Koko–that’s a really interesting notion. Maybe for some people morning lateness is an out of phase thing. I do know night owls who are consistently punctual, but it would be interesting to know if morning lateness is more common among night owls.

                3. twentymilehike*

                  @Koko .. THIS SO MUCH.

                  ” I am never late to anything that starts after 10 am, but I struggle greatly with being on time for anything before 10 am.”

                  I am a night person, I struggle with insomnia. No matter how early I go to bed, no matter how tired I am, how relaxed I am, sleeping before midnight is next to impossible for me. So I get it.

                  OP, I’m sorry, but if you’re a night person living in a morning person’s world, I can totally relate! I don’t know how much of this is practical for you, but perhaps things to consider:
                  1. I actually moved closer to work to cut my commute time down (I admit that might not really be an option, but if you were thinking of moving anyways …)
                  2. was able to permanently change my schedule to start 30 minutes later (also maybe not an option, but it took a few years for me to achieve this)
                  3. Most importantly! I figured out how to minimize my morning routine and still look like a professional adult (one trick, is a wear the same shoes every time I leave the house so I don’t have to think about it — for whatever reason, picking shoes was a huge time suck for me! — I keep a couple shoes at my desk instead, and a bunch more in my car). Anyhow, I can be out the door in 15-20 minutes max — it just means all the normal morning stuff, I do the night before or later in the day. I eat in the car or at work, I coffee at my desk, I shower at night, etc..

                  **Also, don’t let people make you feel bad for snoozing. That has ALWAYS stressed me out and just made me feel bad, guilty, anxious and abnormal. It’s okay to snooze, but just plan for it. It takes me a long time to wake up. I always snooze 2 or 3 times, but I KNOW that, so I set my alarm so that the 3rd snooze is really the time I want to get up by. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself the time that you need.**

                  Anyhow, I’m so much happier and less stressed in the morning now, and I’m almost always at my desk a couple minutes early.

                4. aeldest*

                  @Koko & fposte, anecdotally I can say that definitely holds true for me. I constantly struggle to be at work on time when I start at 8am, but whenever we have a late start day (10am or later) I can easily make it there on time or early.

                  Same holds true with personal commitments, I’m generally right on time or early but on the rare occasion I’ve got something scheduled in the earlier morning I . It’s usually slightly easier when it’s a one-time thing because I overbudget time, whereas with work I tend to think “ok, shower takes 10 minutes, breakfast takes 10 minutes, getting dressed/makeup takes 15, and I have to leave by 7:30 at the absolute latest” –and while I may have the best of intentions the night before to wake up a few minutes early to mitigate any delays, when I’m still in bed it’s easy to think “ok well technically I don’t have to wake up until 6:55 in order to still leave on time…”

                5. Beezus*

                  @twentymilehike – YES on the planning for snoozing. I need to ease myself awake in the morning, so I don’t like getting up immediately after my alarm goes off. That’s not a flaw, it’s just a quirk I have to plan for. I have a gentle alarm on my phone that I can snooze. I have a clock radio that turns on NPR news after the second snooze from my phone alarm, and I don’t allow myself to turn that off – I frequently doze a bit after it kicks on, but usually I start to follow the conversation a bit and gradually become more awake. Then I have a blaring alarm about half an hour later that means I really do have to get out of bed now, and it’s across the room so I have to get up to switch it off.

                  I also try really hard not to plan to do morning things on my days off. I have a morning-person friend who used to want to do weekend morning stuff with me (Farmer’s Market! 7 am!! Or gardening, 8 am! Let’s be done before it starts to get hot!! Let’s go fishing – they bite best at dawn!!!). I loved spending that time with her, but getting up early and being on time was stressful for me in a way that made things less fun and didn’t allow me to relax and de-stress over the weekend, so I gradually eased her into fewer and later morning things over time.

                6. KH*

                  I have this exact “only late in mornings’ problem – I am punctual except in the morning. No matter how early I go to bed the night before, I can’t wake up on time and the whole morning is rushed. How to get back in sync with mornings? (I’ve been like this since high school)

                7. Jessica*

                  When you have a flight that leaves at 6am. The anxiety has already gone into packing the right clothes for your desrination and making sure you have everything and being ready and having everything by the door. By the time it’s time for the trip you pass out from the anxiety exhaustion and when that alarm goes off at 3am you get up out of fear of missing that flight you get ready and have everything on your checklist. You head out by 4am and arrive at the airport and hour and a half before your flight.

                  Traveling in my opinion is exhausting.

                  My point. Who’s going to wake up extremely early 5 days a week to make sure you’re on time for work? Then you’ll be exhausted all day and that’ll show in tour work. Timeliness for a flight is a rare necessity not 5 days a week. If I had to travel 5 days a week I’d have looked up their missed flight policy by day 4.

                1. Koko*

                  Here is a nice piece on this topic:

                  “And it’s often a problem that begins early. “[For many] it started in childhood, and they’re late for not only things that have to do with other people, but things that will only hurt themselves,” DeLonzor tells HuffPost. They’ll show up to the gym, for instance, 10 minutes before it closes, or they’ll be late for job interviews.

                  The issue might have something to do with fundamental differences in the way we think, according to DeLonzor. In her own research, she’s found that late-arrivers tend to actually perceive time differently than their punctual peers.”

                  And another one here:

                2. Sketchee*

                  There’s an interesting book on the subject filled with more stats and studies called “Never Be Late Again”. Late people tend to be very optimistic about timing, according to one theory. I know I often think I can do “one more thing” “real quick” and next thing I know I’ve gone from early to late as I’m caught up in a task. And when I’m early, I always have forgotten something.

                  With my close friends and family, we just give me a fake time. Like everyone knows when I say “I’m leaving in 5 minutes”, I think I’m leaving in five… but I’m not. It helps to just be around people who have a sense of humor about it. Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation helps. Because I’m often just not paying attention to the details when I’m trying to get somewhere

                  Here’s a write up about the book:

              2. pnw*

                I have a friend who is constantly late except for the most important events (she always made it on time for flights). I finally quit waiting for her. One time we planned to meet for lunch at noon and when she didn’t show up by 12:10pm I left. She hasn’t been late since then.

                1. Jess*

                  I do that with my brother. He’s always incredibly late and it drives me crazy, so I never make plans with him anymore unless it’s something I want to do anyway, and I give him a hard end time. If we agree to go to the museum together from noon until 2 and he shows up at 1:45, well, I’ve had a nice afternoon at the museum and he can join me for the last fifteen minutes, because after that I’m going home. I’ve completely stopped telling my three year old when we’re supposed to meet up with him because there’s a 95% chance he’ll be multiple hours late, and I can’t face her disappointment anymore. Now when we see her uncle for the last ten minutes of our outing it’s a fun surprise for her, instead of a huge letdown that he blew her off. It’s so rude and it drives me crazy.

            2. nofelix*

              As a chronic late person, I feel it doesn’t matter the importance of the event, it matters how much focus I’ve given to what’s required to be on time. When I’m late for important things it’s generally because I’ve forgotten some vital detail like a train strike or printing tickets, not because I’m just lax about the thing itself.

              I feel that Myers Briggs types with N and P, as I am, are particularly susceptible because we tend to see the big picture and be spontaneous – which is the exact opposite of what’s required for timeliness.

              1. Emma*

                I feel that Myers Briggs types with N and P, as I am, are particularly susceptible

                Bullshit. (Says an INTP.)

                1. Kore*

                  Yeah, I’m an INFP and I’m early for almost everything. I roll into work later than most of my coworkers, but that’s because our hours are flexible and I usually prefer to start later and end later.

                2. Venus Supreme*

                  ESFJ here. I usually find myself struggling to get out the door in time. That’s an interesting observation, though- I haven’t really thought about the “generalizations” of Myers Briggs people more than just “introvert v. extrovert”

                3. Amandolin*

                  INFP here, and I’m almost always early, even though I’m a chronic insomniac who rarely falls asleep before 1am (and I have to be at work at 7).

                  2 of my best friends are chronically late though, and I’ve learned to just cheerfully lie to them about what time the activity really starts :)

          2. HurricaneMatthew*

            Many people do, but it sounds like OPs issue is centered around morning/work – I’m the same way.

            For me, it doesn’t matter if I sleep in or wake up early, I still manage to feel like I’m running late in the morning, even if it’s only by a few minutes. But other events (specifically ones that don’t happen in the morning) I’m usually early. My sense of time is just off in the mornings, and that happens to be when work starts

            1. SarcasticFringehead*

              Yeah, I think “morning” is key here – when I injured my arm & was working half-days in the afternoon, it was so much easier for me to be on time (and I had PT in the morning, so it wasn’t that I was getting more sleep; it was a HUGE effort to be on time to PT, in fact).

            2. Wrench Turner*

              Even though I’m up at 530 daily for work, I’m not a morning person. I’m super groggy, dizzy, forgetful… even if I’ve had close to a night’s rest. So I’ve got a ritual of prepping for the next day the night before. When my alarm goes off, I get up and go. No snooze ever.

              1. M-C*

                The problem with the snooze is that it’s essentially training yourself to ignore the alarm. You’re not awake, you cannot tell whether you’ve hit snooze 2 or 10 times. You just know you don’t have to get up -this- time..

                I find it’s much better to never snooze. I set the alarm for a tight fit, so I get the most sleep possible if I need it. If the alarm rings and I really need to get up, I do. If I decide to ignore it, I might be 10mn or an hour late, but at least I haven’t Pavloved myself into being unable to really use an alarm.

                1. dragonzflame*

                  Put the alarm on the other side of the room so you have to get up. There’s also an app I read about where you take a picture of something and the alarm won’t turn off until you take another picture of it. So you make it your coffee machine, fridge, whatever – just not the floor beside your bed ;-)

                2. Sarah*

                  My phone’s alarm app allows you to set how many snoozes are the “maximum” and how often they go off. So I have mine set to go off every 5 minutes and the last one (15 minutes after the first alarm) doesn’t have a snooze function at all, just an off function, so I know I HAVE to get up then.

              2. Stone Satellite*

                I get up at 5 every day for work. I am not a morning person at all, and I resent my alarm clock every single time 5 a.m. comes around. But I always get up when it goes off. Always. If I forget to disable it for a weekend morning, and it goes off, I still get up because the only way for me to keep a habit going is to do it every single time. Also, it’s not all the way across the room, but I can’t reach it without getting out of the nice warm covers.

              3. Amy*

                I think that’s the heart of it, I am by no means a morning person I’m rarely asleep before midnight. I have trained myself since college to prep as much as possible the night before, lunch , shoes, bags and anything else that needs to leave with me is by the door (or in the fridge) . I pick my clothes the night before so it takes me 30 minutes to get from my bed to my car. Since everything is done the night I’m not making any decisions ,which is a time suck for me, so there is no stress in getting out the door. The other thing is letting stuff go If I didn’t do my lunch and I don’t have time I just get soup from the cafe. Not everything needs to be done before I leave for work.

          3. AshleyH*

            I’m a chronically late person who seriously makes a ton of effort to NOT be, and yup…I am late to movies, have missed flights (ALWAYS vacation flights, never work flights!), etc. I read once that people who are chronically late tend to be people who like to multitask and always just think of “well I can really quickly do X” and before they know it, they’ve misjudged the time commitment. My best tip is just building in a barrier for myself. So if I have to be at the airport by 8am, I need to leave my house by 7am, so I just tell myself I have to ACTUALLY leave at 6:30 and that way I’m usually out the door by 7:05. I fly a lot for work so this is something I’ve had to work on!

            1. Koko*

              yes! It’s called “the planning fallacy.” People tend to underestimate the time required to complete a task because they assume everything will go optimally. Whereas people tend to overestimate the time it will take someone else to take a task by assuming there will be problems along the way.

              I have always kept this in mind and whenever I’m doing backwards planning, I add 15 minutes to every part of the schedule. Need to stop and pick up coffee? That takes 5 minutes, but I’ll budget 20. Then it’s a 30 minute drive to the airport? I’ll budget 45. Then I can usually get through pre-check in 5 minutes, but I’ll budget 20 again.

              Ironically because I add 15 minutes to every step, the more steps I have to complete before getting somewhere the more likely I am to be early, because I probably did have problems with one or two steps where I needed the time cushion, but not with all of them. If I just have to get in my car and drive somewhere with no tasks first or stops along the way I’m actually more likely to be late because I only added 15 minutes and end up leaving later than planned or needing more than 15.

              1. fposte*

                I also don’t recognize increments smaller than 15 minutes. There’s no such thing as a 5 minute errand to me–I start “time billing” with 15, and I can only round up, so a 20-minute errand is scheduled for half an hour.

                1. Parenthetically*

                  Ooh, I like that. I’m generally quite good at estimating time, but I’m an inveterate optimizer and that sounds like a good strategy.

                2. lauraxe*

                  This. Absolutely.

                  I can’t fully wrap my mind around this question because I’m the complete opposite. I always joke that my superpower is being on time because even when a million and one things go wrong I’m still early.

                  So I don’t really understand how people can continue being late even when they say they’re trying not to – I believe it because I’ve seen it, but I don’t understand it. But I realized I can’t plan less than 15 minutes to do something even if it’ll “just take a minute”.

                  Probably just a reaction to growing up with a parent who would take a 15-minute “two minute” shower 5 minutes before we had to leave for school LOL…

                3. Purple Jello*

                  Thanks fposte! I will definitely try this. I always feel that I can do “one more little thing”, especially if I have “extra time”. I need to get the hard line time to leave in my head, and with this buffer worked in maybe it’ll make a difference.

              2. Kira*

                That’s a neat method. The more I try to get done in the morning, the more likely I am to be late. I started telling myself that, “If you want to [play with the cat/put on makeup/eat breakfast/check the news/pack a homemade lunch] before work, you have to wake up earlier. If you wake up at a normal time, you can’t do any of those things.”

                When I know I need to leave in 5 minutes, telling myself “no, you can’t start making toast now” makes a big difference.

            2. Anonamoose*

              Yep, I too am a chronic later-er. I just don’t seem to have a concept of time. Or, rather, what I think will take 20 minutes, really takes 40 minutes, and I somehow forget that EVERY single time.

              BTW, I just got here to work and it’s 10:30. Luckily my bosses are okay-ish about it since my work quality is high, but I know I look like a massive flake and I hate it.

            3. Dana*

              I like your approach. I’ve never been one to run late but I think that’s because I have always built in extra time by doing exactly what you’re suggesting. If I need to leave for something at 10:30, I plan to leave at 10:15. That gives me wiggle room to leave late or leave on time and deal with traffic if it’s worse than usual.

              I run into the same problem when I’m trying to leave work early. If I need to leave at 2:00 I tell myself and my staff that I have to leave at either 1:00 or 1:30. Frequently I find myself trying to wrap up something before I leave. Also, being in management, I tell my staff that I have to leave earlier than I really do so that, when a few of them come to me with that last minute questions, I have time to take care of the last minute things people throw at me.

              My roommate is one of those who is always running late because she misjudges how long things will take to get done. Her lateness isn’t confined to the mornings. Given what causes it it is an all day issue. Any suggestions for her would be greatly appreciated. She’s out of ideas, as am I, and this issue has come up on her last two reviews.

              1. Stone Satellite*

                Has your roommate ever tried recording her time use?
                7:05 got out of bed
                7:05-7:10 put on clothes
                7:10-7:25 made breakfast
                7:25-7:45 ate breakfast
                etc. so that she can reverse-engineer a schedule that actually works for her?

                Another option is to come at it from the other direction, allocate 20 minutes to eating breakfast, set a timer, and when the timer goes off you’re done, end of story. You started reading AskAManager on your phone while eating and didn’t finish your breakfast? Well, you’ll be hungry until lunch comes around. Makeup not fully applied in the time you allocated? Guess you’ll have to fix it on a bathroom break at work. It’s hard because most people are pretty strongly averse to causing themselves discomfort, so you really have to be strict with yourself for it to work.

                1. RF*

                  @Stone Satellite, that is brilliant. I’m hampered in the morning by small children, and we do stress that if they don’t eat at meal time, they will be hungry, but timers would definitely help.

                  My problem with lateness is the are too many moving parts and variables to control. So I’m late in the mornings, or any time I have to get my children somewhere.

                  One thing that helped was to control variables. I now go to work earlier, so I don’t have to worry about traffic. I leave my wallet and my coat in my car so I’m not searching for them when I should be leaving. I prep what I can the night before. When I really have my act together, on Sunday, I will put together 5 work outfits including shoes, jewelry and underwear. No thinking in the am, just moving.

                  The other thing is to change jobs to a company where the culture is more focused on performance and less on the clock. Also, getting in before everyone make my lateness less noticeable, not that my boss cares because of the culture here. I pretty consistently work 7:40 to 4:40. We can set our own hours, mine just don’t start on the hour like everyone else.

        3. pussycats and toast*

          Even if that’s true, those events are usually/not necessarily early in the morning. Like, when you’re meeting someone after work for dinner, you remove the obstacles of getting out of bed/the snooze button/making breakfast/showering/getting dressed/etc. Plus, there are still things like traffic to contend with.

        4. Whit in Ohio*

          I’m not the OP, but I have a similar problem with being constantly a few minutes late to everything. And I must say that as far as I am concerned your assumption is wrong. I’m late to concerts, dinners, dates, lodge meetings, and church services as well as work and school.

        5. Isben Takes Tea*

          But there’s a difference (for some people) between “there’s this one thing I can’t be late for” and a daily routine. For those of us without a loud or consistent internal clock/timer, it takes a lot of energy and focus to do that, and it is simply not sustainable on a daily basis.

          1. MMMkay*

            Exactly this. It’s easy when it’s a one-time event or one with immediate, dire consequences (like missing a flight). When you don’t HAVE to be on time, and the consequences are non existent or gradual (like slowly wearing away your reputation) and it’s an every day event, that’s a lot harder. Signed, someone who likes to be early for everything amen but is consistently 10-15 minutes late for work.

            1. Jaydee*

              You also usually set a large cushion for those things. Who wants to be 30 minutes early for work? But being 30 minutes early for a concert or an hour early for a flight is normal. You get your seat and read the program or get through security and buy a cup of coffee and a magazine.

              1. Anxa*

                Yeah, I give myself 2 hours of buffer in addition to the usual 1.5 hours preflight to make a flight. It’s physically impossible to do that at work, there’s nowhere that’s open 2 hours before I have to be there. Plus, that’s excessive and unsustainable.

                I’ve never missed a flight or the last train, but I’m often getting there at the last minute, whether I build in no buffer of a double-the-time-of-the-commute buffer.

                Usually I don’t sleep the night before travel as I’m so anxious about being late.

              2. Quickbeam*

                I’m always at least 30 minutes early for work. Best time to get things done. (Salaried). I will say that as someone who has to get up at 4 AM but is not a morning person, if left to my own devices I’d get up naturally about 9 AM.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            Yeah, when I absolutely have to be somewhere, I sleep very poorly the night before, constantly terrified I’m going to oversleep an miss it. This includes flights, big events, early morning meetings with important people at work, etc. If I had to feel like that every single day, I’d probably have an ulcer and severe sleep deprivation.

            I also live in DC where the public transit and traffic are a daily shit-show. I had to untrain myself from getting incredibly worked up about being late because a lot of times, I just don’t have a huge amount of control over it. It’s a running joke that I can leave my house at 7 a.m. or I can leave my house at 8 a.m., and I’m still going to get to work at 9:15, regardless. Thanks, WMATA!

            1. LBK*

              Oh yeah – if I have to be up at 4am for a flight or something, I may as well not bother going to bed because I’ll be up all night having anxiety about waking up on time anyway. And WMATA is the worst – I had to develop that same kind of zen attitude about it and just repeat the mantra “You can’t make the train go faster. You can’t make the train go faster. You can’t make the train go faster.” Otherwise I’d be in a blind rage by the time I got to the office.

              1. Becky*

                A month ago I had a flight to London at around 8AM. It takes an hour to get to the airport and the shuttle service I was using calculates around 3 hours allowance on international flights. I was picked up just after 4 AM. I didn’t sleep the night before.

                I actually usually am on time for things (lateness, especially lateness without notification really bugs me). But I am still always paranoid I will miss an early flight if I sleep.

              2. Wilhelmina Mildew*

                I had to drive a friend to the airport for an early morning flight, I think we left the house at 2 or 3 AM. I’m a night owl anyway, so I just slept til late afternoon and stayed up all night because nothing else would have worked.

            2. MillersSpring*

              Traffic is worse at earlier hours. If your commute is 15 minutes at 9 am, it might be 45 minutes at 8 am. You may have to build in even more time.

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                Traffic is not my issue. I drive 10-15 minutes to get to the train without a problem. It’s the train that can take anywhere from 25-90 minutes to get where I need to go, and there is no rhyme or reason to when it’s running and when it’s not. I HAVE gotten up early and still end up getting to work at 9:15. I’ve accepted it as the way of the universe’s proscribed Time I Will Arrive at Work.

              2. Sarianna*

                Depends where you are for traffic! If I leave at 7, there’s no traffic to speak of, but if I leave at 7:30, it’s going to be 15min longer.

                I aim to be at work at 7:30, but I usually get there about 7:40. No matter when I get up.

            3. Tau*

              I remember morning exams at uni with a distinct lack of fondness. In the first years, I would consistently have nightmares about oversleeping and missing the exam the night before. The time I had three in a row sticks in memory. In the last year or two, I just stopped being able to sleep before morning exams at all and would lie awake all night.

              I shudder to imagine what going through that every day would do to my health and sanity…

            4. Dynamic Beige*

              Sometimes I do, other times I don’t. It’s the dreams that get me, though. I once woke up in a panic because I was *sure* I’d missed my flight… and then I realised it was still several days off. Such relief! I don’t fly as much as I used to, but now I have these repeating dreams where I’m at the airport and I don’t have my passport. I start doing the math in my head that it’s going to take 2 hours to get home and retrieve it, but the flight leaves in an hour. When I do pack, I’m getting OCD about checking for my passport.

              I will plead guilty to being one of those “Oh, I can make $AllTheseStops before my appointment.” So I stopped doing that because it never works. Then one day when I was speeding off to an appointment, I realised that I like it. That shot of adrenaline really gets the blood pumping… and that was not a good thing to understand about myself. I hate being late, and yet, I seem to have no ability to manage how long it takes to get me out of the house. Even when I plan extra time, I seem to lose my keys or sunglasses or something and wind up running around everywhere. It’s bizarre. But then again, if someone invites me to a party and it starts at 7, I will be there at 7, or not too long after (fashionably late). I will be the first one because apparently “starts at 7” actually means 8, and it won’t really get going until 9:30-10pm, by which time I’m done and just want to go home.

            5. halpful*

              ” If I had to feel like that every single day, I’d probably have an ulcer and severe sleep deprivation.”

              This is not an exaggeration. I got myself a permanent migraine, and trying really really hard to be at work and productive all day (with undiagnosed adhd and a sleep problem and more) was probably a factor.

          3. Tau*

            Yep, I was going to point that out. The amount of effort I sink into being on time for stuff like flights is simply effort I do not have to spare every single morning.

            I also tend to use a lot of mental tricks when it comes to being on time to things that are a lot easier to pull off with one-off events, including planning in a lot of buffer time and convincing myself the World Will End if I don’t allow for that much leeway or deliberately not figuring out exactly how long it will take me to get somewhere and instead picking an arbitrary number that’s higher than reality. For events that are part of my daily routine, my brain eventually catches on that I don’t actually need to be there half an hour in advance and it doesn’t actually take half an hour to reach the bus station and then that stops working.

        6. aebhel*

          Not necessarily. I’m a chronically late person because I just have no sense of time; if it’s absolutely imperative that I get somewhere on time (to make a flight, for example), I make up for it by being wayyy early, but that’s not a practical strategy to use on a daily basis. I’m routinely late to movies and concerts, too, so it’s not a matter of how much I want to get there, I just have no real sense of time.

          There are ways to work around it–and I do manage to be more or less on time to work most of the time–but assuming that it’s just a matter of laziness seems kinda mean. People who are lazy don’t care enough to worry about whether they’re on time; that doesn’t seem to be the case with the OP.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Actually, being WAAAAYYYY early is pretty much my strategy. I don’t need to clock in until 7:30 but I’m usually at work a little after 7:00. I bring breakfast with me to eat there, which a) saves me the time I need to leave earlier, b) means I won’t be starving by 10:00, and c) fills the time gap between arrival and clock-in. So maybe assuming that planning that much extra time is overkill is the reason some people are late?

            1. Kore*

              Yeah, I’m definitely not a morning person, which makes my flexible hours pretty great, but if I have to be at work at a certain time I almost always aim to get there 15-30 minutes early.

            2. Stitch*

              Dust Bunny, I think you’re on to something. I’m usually 15-30 minutes early for things when I’m still measuring out my paces (how long does traffic add to the commute, how much effort is it to find parking, etc.) and it’s not a big deal – really kind of relaxing, and you can still use that time to some degree. But then I get comfortable with the traffic., etc., and start arriving almost exactly on time, which is fine except for the “almost” which makes days with even slightly heavier traffic really stressful.

              So I’d rather be early than on time, TBH.

              1. V dubs*

                Gretchen Rubin had a great conversation about this in her podcast recently. Two things she recommended:

                1) Set an alarm for when you need to leave (or go to sleep at night, etc)

                2) Plan for things to do when you arrive early, and only allow yourself to do those things then. I.e., catch up on Instagram, read all your saved links on Facebook, do the crossword puzzle…

        7. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

          I’ll admit to being someone who can be on time for important things (the examples you used are good) and I can be at work on time if there is a meeting that is going to begin promptly. But otherwise, yes I’ll be late. At least part of it is constantly underestimating how long it takes to get ready to leave and then travel to my destination. If there is something that I MUST be on time for, I’ll leave 20-30 minutes earlier and just sit around and wait for starting time. But otherwise, I’m going to try to time it so I arrive exactly on time and I’m going to not estimate that correctly and be a few minutes late.

        8. LBK*

          As someone who never gets to work as early as I intend to but who generally doesn’t have an issue getting to other events on time: it’s because I budget way, way more extra time before those other events because I know I’m a late person, and I usually end up getting there super early and twiddling my thumbs for at least a half hour

          I know the obvious response will be “okay, so just budget more time to get to work in the morning” but:

          a) I’m more willing to sit around doing nothing once a month for a flight or movie than I am 5 days a week at the office,
          b) I don’t have to wake up and get ready to go to a movie at 7:30PM, and forcing myself to get out of bed is about 90% of the reason I struggle in the morning,
          c) There’s an element of rudeness to showing up late to a movie or play – it annoys me to no end when people are still filing in 15 minutes after the show has started, so I do everything I can to avoid being one of them, and
          c) For me, there’s a more concrete/immediate consequence to missing a flight (like paying a lot of money to change my ticket to a new one) or showing up late for a movie (like not seeing part of it) than there is to showing up “late” to work in an office where I’m not held to a certain schedule.

          There was a period when the nature of my commute meant I was usually in the office 30-45 minutes before everyone else and I always enjoyed that quiet time in the morning, but not enough that I can convince myself that it’s a worthwhile reward for getting out of bed 45 minutes earlier now that it’s not required.

          1. Rookie Biz Chick*

            This and everything @Koko says is me. All. Day. Every. Day! Though, I have missed flights and been that person at the movies.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Am laughing. We went the opposite way with our late person. “This is the time of our wedding. We will get married with or without you. Do as you wish.” But this person was not one of our parents, so that made it a bit “easier” in some ways. She was on time.

        9. Honeybee*

          Maybe, maybe not. I used to be a chronically late person and I was also chronically late to the things I wanted to do, too.

      2. caryatis*

        “It’s not necessarily about sleeping in late, it’s the combination of things that just seem to pile up and mean you can’t leave the house on time. I struggle with it daily, and so far none of my strategies have really worked.”

        You’ve probably already thought of this, but what would happen if you got up earlier? If your normal morning routine is one hour, and you started allowing an hour and a half, surely you would have time to deal with those little things like the sick cat or the lost shoes or whatever it is. I have little things that crop up too, but it’s not a problem because I get ready and make sure I have everything I need well before I need to be out the door.

        1. Karo*

          My problem in that case is that if I wake up earlier, I know that I have that much longer, so I start (unintentionally, obviously) dawdling. Play an extra game on my phone in the morning, give the dog a few extra belly rubs, start reading, or just hit snooze on my alarm. With all of these I’m telling myself that I have an extra 30 minutes, so these 5-10 minutes shouldn’t matter, but then they all add up and I’m later than before.

          1. caryatis*

            Set yourself a goal to get ready completely by, say, 7:30 if you have to leave at eight. You’re only allowed to play with the dog/phone once you’re completely ready, shoes on and everything.

            1. Anxa*

              This could really backfire.

              I used to be chronically late, and I struggle tremendously with getting out of the house on time and not getting stuck in traffic, on the broken down bus, etc.

              The more time I give myself in the morning, the less likely I am to be on time. In recent years I have realized I may have ADHD (no diagnosis or getting help at the moment), and that actually seemed to help me be on time.

              I can tell you that it’s not a laziness thing. It may be a discipline issue, but certainly no because I’m not trying. I spend hours of my week every week trying to set up systems to be on time. Also, no matter how early you go to bed, some people just cannot fall asleep before 11 pm, 1 am or 4 am. It’s hard live on less than 4 hours of sleep long-term.

              1. Ms_Morlowe*

                I’m in the same boat as you with regards potential but undiagnosed ADHD. To combat chronic lateness and forgetfulness, I have three alarms in the morning, each with different tones, and the earliest is set for about 20 minutes before I have to get up. I have a list app (Google keep) with a checklist of things to do the night before, and a reminder app that goes off every night to remind me to check it off (pack handbag, make lunch, put coat, keys, etc in their set places). I have another morning checklist and another reminder for that. I have another alarm set for about fifteen minutes before I have to leave the house to remind me to go.

                The night before, I break my morning routine into the smallest possible stages, and go over the order in my head repeatedly while I’m falling asleep (active thinking keeps my brain too busy to derail me from sleeping, repetitive thoughts encourage sleep) so I’ll know exactly what I’m supposed to do in the morning and won’t be distracted by whether to have toast or porridge (I already know!).

                My reminder app also reminds me weekly to go grocery shopping (using a checklist because otherwise I come home with chocolate, new makeup and a random vegetable instead the stuff I actually need) and to do laundry, to clean and tidy, etc.

                I also have a written daily planner for putting tasks (work and college assignments, various meetings personal and professional, college classes, etc), and I colour-code different types with different coloured pens, and I draw a little box next to each task to tick it off.

                If someone asks me to do something, I write it down or add it to my phone straight away: I used to leave it as I worried I would be seen as forgetful, but what would happen would be I would actually forget, and that’s way worse. (I have straight up forgotten to go to work before. Not lost track of time, just forgotten that I had work and I had to go to it.)

                This is not to say that things don’t fall through the cracks, but the apps, the alarms, and the planner really help offset some of the worst of it.

                TL;DR reminder apps, multiple alarms (including an alarm for leaving the house), list app, daily planner, and planning and preparing as much as possible the night before.

                1. Meredith*

                  I have ADD that was undiagnosed for all of my childhood and most of my adulthood. I’m being treated now, which is a HUGE, HUUUUUGGGGEEEEEE (Seriously, I can’t adequately express what a big difference it is) difference – but before I was able to do that, I also had to train myself to by highly organized in order to work around it. Lists are my best friend! It’s the only way I would remember to do anything.

              2. Honeybee*

                Yeah, this is me too. I have to be careful with how much additional time I leave myself in the morning, and personally if I am ready 20-30 minutes early I hop in my car and drive to work. If I give myself that extra time I can sit down and start reading a book and look up and shit, I’m already 15 minutes late.

              3. Not So NewReader*

                If you are having problems sleeping, no system in the world is going to help you not be late. Check out what is keeping you awake. I had a pretty good list of things I changed even before I went to the doctor. No tv, no eating a couple hours before bed. No emotional stuff such as when drama queens call, I learned to say “whoops, I have to go now.”

                My list got very long of things I had to change. I got into some alternative stuff and started working with minerals such as magnesium and wow, that really helped.

                In the end it was my toxic job. I have had jobs with pressure but toxic plus pressure kept me up nights. Basically because my at home time was the only thing decent that happened all day, if I slept like I should, it felt like I was not grounded enough to face the next day. I desperately needed to connect with my home life. I quit the job and that desperation went away.

          2. aebhel*

            My advice is to just not allow any non-routine behaviors in the morning. I actually did better being on time when I could roll out of bed and head out the door (which I can’t do now because I have a small child who has to be gotten ready in the morning) because I didn’t have any allowance for noodling around on the internet; I got out of bed, showered, dressed, ate, and left. It’s only when I deviate from the routine that I can do on autopilot that I end up being late.

            1. Puffle*

              I’m the same, I have to have a strict morning routine that I never deviate from, with no checking my phone or watching the news allowed- otherwise I get caught up with something and then have to run out the door

            2. Kelly L.*

              Yup, my noodling is even part of the routine. And I have to do my shower in the same order every day–if I screw up and wash my body before I wash my hair, I’ll forget my hair entirely. I have to assume zero brainpower until about 7:30 or 8.

              1. twentymilehike*

                “if I screw up and wash my body before I wash my hair, I’ll forget my hair entirely.”

                This made me LOL pretty good. I’m this way with brushing my teeth. If I don’t do it immediately after I wake up, I remember at lunch time that I didn’t brush my teeth … and then I’m mortified.

              2. halpful*

                I have a bucket in the shower, with either an item (razor, scrub cloth, etc) or a placeholder (eg. comb for washing hair) for each task. Once the bucket is empty, my shower is done. Sometimes that means I only cut my toenails and forget my fingernails, or shave only one leg, but the shaving I usually notice before I’m out. :)

          3. AshleyH*

            stuff expansion! If I wake up two house before I have to be somewhere, I’m still finding 2 and a half hours worth of stuff to do!

            1. fposte*

              Do you have targets within that time? Like you may have two hours, but you still have to be dressed by 7:30 and have breakfast on the plate by 8?

              1. LBK*

                I’ve tried to do this, but I find that it stresses me out when I’m not able to hit my target, and then it can mess up my whole day because I start out already frustrated.

            2. irritable vowel*

              I have the same problem but at the opposite end of the day — I can start getting ready for bed an hour before I usually do with the goal of going to bed early, but I’ll manage to find an extra hour of stuff to do and still end up going to bed too late.

          4. Kira*

            Yep, if I’m going to be on time in the morning I have to be really strict with myself about not adding items to the t0-do list. I gave myself 30 minutes to roll out of bed, get dressed, grab a cup of coffee, and that will all get thrown off if I play 5 minutes of games on my phone.

        2. Not using my usual name*

          It sounds like an obvious solution, but it doesn’t work on a daily basis. If I get up earlier than normal, I might find cat hairballs all over the living room carpet. Or the dishwasher needs to be emptied, and I think that it only takes a couple of minutes & I have an extra hour so why not? Or I actually do manage to leave the house early but get stuck behind a school bus, or there’s unexpected construction blocking the main road to work, or or or … and sometimes all of the above at once!

          And some mornings the extra time just vanishes, & I can’t account for it at all. This morning I got up an hour earlier than yesterday, but walked into work 15 minutes later. I have no idea what I did differently!

          1. OP*

            This! I have a bad habit of this. Oh I have time to do my make up this morning, but then this other thing came up, and then I had to empty the dishwasher and then holy crap I have to go. But honestly, there’s only one day a week that I have that time, and that’s the day I don’t have to work until 12:15 so even if I leave later, I still have quite a cushion to make it there. Unless parking is a nightmare.

            1. M-C*

              What got me to be the most regular in leaving time was when I had to take a train to work. If I missed it, even by one minute, I was 40mn late. So I learned to drop -everything- and leave the house when I was supposed to, even if I was still buttoning my shirt or whatever.
              OP, how about a dual-alarm system? The first to get up, the second to sound that you’re out the door NOW? It might break you of the noodling-around habit?

              1. OP*

                Quite a few people have mentioned a get out the door now alarm, or a five minute warning alarm. I like the idea of it and it’s another one of those things I’m going to try implementing. I’ve already downloaded a few of the suggested apps, and as soon as I can afford a sunrise alarm, I’m investing in one of those if these apps don’t help. Or maybe even then it would help better. Starting today I’ve been trying to get a good idea of how long each task actually takes so I can more accurately figure out how much time I really need and when to leave by.

                1. Rachel*

                  The task tracking really helped me a lot. I work a schedule that often has a different start time every day, AND a different commute. Figuring out what time I needed to get up was a pain (and I was NOT getting up at 5 every day just to “keep the routine”) until I reverse engineered the routine. So…be on site by 8, the commute is 35 minutes, so out the door by 7:20. Takes me 30 minutes to get dressed (I get dressed as late as possible because I have hound dogs) and do final pack-up, so coffee must be done by 6:50. I like to have 35-40 minutes to eat and caffeinate, plus 15 minutes for toothbrushing and cooking breakfast, SO, out of bed by 6:00. I get a five minute snooze, alarm goes off at 5:55. Repeat for next day where I have to be at work at 7:00 and the day after, where I start at 8:45.

          2. Stone Satellite*

            Just in response to the cat hairballs … Maybe this is gross, but when I find cat puke on the carpet in the morning, I pick up the solids with a paper towel and put a rag over the spot on the floor so no one steps on it. And then I do the real cleaning when I get home that night so it doesn’t derail my morning schedule. Even with light-colored carpet on 75% of the floors, I haven’t had a problem with stains.

      3. Temperance*

        I struggled to get to work by 9 for a really long time – I take public transportation, and I’d either be 40 minutes early or 5-15 minutes late. I’m not a morning person whatsoever. SEPTA really blew up this summer, and I had to leave my house by 6:50 a.m. to get to work by 9:00 a.m. It sucked, but I made myself do it … and now getting the 7:45 train feels like a luxury.

        What worked for me was letting go, because it doesn’t matter when I get to work. I also worked on getting to bed earlier, to break the cycle of me staying up late, nto wanting to wake up early, and not sleeping well due to anxiety about being to work early.

        1. Mrs. Badcrumble*

          Hello ,fellow SEPTAcopalyse survivor! Doesn’t it feel like a luxury when the train’s only 4 minutes late now?

      4. SuperL8*

        Omigosh this is the story of my life!! And it has INDEED earned me a reputation as the late one and (I believe) even cost me a full time job (I’m a contractor) in my former department. And I’ll admit–I’m VERY late for work, as in about 30-35 minutes each day. Nothing seems to work and this is something I’ve struggled with since childhood! Once I’m present of course I’m on time for meetings, etc. but getting anywhere (including fun things) is a battle. So eager to read these replies and also to see I’m not the only one.

    2. Data Lady*

      Just because you don’t *need* to be there doesn’t mean that someone won’t start holding your lateness against you if it suits them to. It’s smart to protect yourself against that.

      1. Not Yet Looking*

        Your first sentence is completely true. Your second sentence is confusing – by “protect yourself” what were you picturing? Blackmail? Old Boy’s Network? If by “protect yourself” you mean just being on time, that’s the problem that’s actually trying to be addressed here. It SUCKS being late all the time, knowing you should be able to do better, and just literally failing at it. All. The. Time.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think Data Lady means bosses who say it is okay to be late by a few minutes and then pass you by for promotions or coveted projects because you are a late a few minutes every day. I think she is referencing people who talk one way and walk another. I have met quite a few of those types.

          1. Data Lady*

            Absolutely, and the thing is they’ll usually do that because of Old Boy’s Network /implicit bias/other sorts of “cultural fit” issues. It’s safer to assume that most bosses are like this, regardless of what they say.

    3. OP*

      Thanks for the replies everyone, I’m doing my best to read all of them and really listen to the advice. I’m sure I’m not getting enough sleep at night and definitely not good enough sleep. I’ve got insomnia and I’m also prone to tension headaches and I have stress-triggered migraines which are pretty constant right now. I have a really stressful living situation that I’m trying to get out of so I’m working both my regular full-time job and I have a part time waitressing gig as well as school. My housemates are not the best at being considerate of my sleeping time as they tend to feel that everyone should get up when they do. (6:30am or earlier usually) Usually, they’ve turned all the lights on and make a lot of noise at that time of the morning (door slamming, pots banging, etc.) I get groggier the more I’m woken up before the time I get up for work and usually this is hours earlier than that.

      1. Guam Mom*

        You have my sincerest sympathies–it sounds like you are going through a lot right now.
        I also get groggier the more I am woken up before I have to actually be up. The one thing I found that works for me, and I am sorry to say it, is just getting up when I am woken up the first time vs. trying to go back to sleep after things quiet down. Yes, technically I get less sleep, but since wasn’t really good, restive sleep, I’ve found it doesn’t really impact me over the work day. It’s also given me more time in the mornings to wake up slowly, eat a decent breakfast, get myself ready, and some bonus time to take care of that random stuff like the cat, or learning that there is an accident on the way to work and I am going to need to leave 10 minutes early.

      2. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

        Okay, so it sounds like this isn’t a late problem and is instead a home environment problem!

        Seems like you’re late because you’re sleep deprived and stressed out, so maybe focus on how to exert as much control over your environmental (hard with roommate I know) and as much destressing as possible.

        Good sleep hygiene starts with the night before. Are there things, like reading or taking a hot bath or having a cup of hot chocolate, that are guaranteed to make you relax?

        Are there ways you can coordinate your schedule with roommate to something a bit more mutually beneficial? Loud roommates are annoying, it’s true.

        These are just spitballs, but based on what you describe, it sounds like your inability to get to work on time isn’t some tardiness thing, but because your mind and body are functioning on less rest and more stress than desireable!

        1. OP*

          Unfortunately my roommates are my family. I live with my dad and his girlfriend and also my older sister(whose boyfriend is also over at least two days of the week) My sister and her boyfriend stay up late making noise in the living room and generally refuse to move to her room if they’re watching t.v. (even though there is one in there) because the internet isn’t as good in her room. And my father and his girlfriend seem to feel that because my fiance and I don’t make as much money/contribute as much to the household that our jobs are less important than theirs. IE: If my stepmom works a 14 hour day and comes home exhausted, it’s okay. But if I do, and get home at 11, I still need to find the time and energy to clean the cat boxes, pick up the house, vacuum, etc. I can take a bath before bed every so often, but a lot of times I’m getting home so late that I don’t have the time to do that and also get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            Seconding earplugs! Foam ones are cheap and effective. I swear by them – I am a light sleeper and earplugs help drown out any outside noise.

            You could also get a pair of soft headphones, plug in your phone or iPod, and play some soft music, white noise, or a soothing podcast.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I used to look for classical music on the radio to drown out background noise.

            It’s tough to get sleep if you are irritated. Maybe some Sleepy Time Tea or something like that in conjunction with other things would help.

            But your problem is not lateness, it’s lack of sleep. And as the decades roll by this gets to be more and more of an issue if it’s left unaddressed. By the time I was in my mid 30s the problem was way out of control.

            1. Chaordic One*

              Be careful with classical music. I love Bach and Beethoven and when I want to mellow out, I love Erik Satie (they use his music in OTC sleeping aid commercials). Our NPR-related Classical Music radio station will play a bizarre mix of things that they label as classical, including opera.

              One particularly strange meeting I attended had the Classical Music station playing on the radio and up popped this little ditty, “Sabre Dance,” apparently by an Aram Khachaturian. (It’s also know as: “Music to Spin Plates By.”


          3. Stone Satellite*

            This might seem counterintuitive, but if your schedule is later than everyone else’s in the house, get up when they get up and shift your tasks like vacuuming and cleaning cat boxes to the morning. These tasks don’t require much brain input, do them when your brain is at its worst. Then you’re awake in the morning with everyone else so they’re not interrupting your sleep, and you’re not winding yourself up by rushing through cleaning at night so you can *finally* get to bed.

            1. M-C*

              Totally agree – I often do the dishes in the morning because I don’t like doing them, and so doing them while essentially asleep is better :-). Plus if all the inconsiderate boors you’re living with are up at that time, it’s OK to make noise too.
              Poor OP, you sound terribly sleep-deprived, which is for sure not helping your general stress level. Lateness is just a symptom of the larger problem.

      3. EmmaLou*

        “I’m doing my best to read all of them and really listen to the advice”
        Hopefully not while getting ready for work! I joke because I married a man who I swear thinks he owns a Tardis. If he has two hours open on Saturday morning, he will plan to get 4-5 hours of stuff done in it. “I’ll go to Home Depot, drop that package off at the post office, do the laundry and get the prescriptions at Costco.” Because: Laundry takes two hours. When I ask crazy questions like, “Did you figure in travel time from Costco to Home Depot and the post? And the lines at the post and Costco? And how can you do the laundry if you’re in line at Costco?” He really just doesn’t think of things like travel times and lines. Instead he sees them as objectives to be crossed off. He is much more relaxed when he writes down his “budget of time” which of course … takes time. But then he feels like he’s winning when he’s budgeted 15 minutes to get from Costco to the bank and it only took ten! Whoo! (Did you notice? Yes, now he’s also added going to the bank into his infinite time list)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is definitely a train your brain type of thing. I got myself to the point that I can figure how long something will take and be fairly accurate.
          My friend noticed and she comments frequently. She has been telling me how she is looking more and more at what she is doing. Every time you think to yourself, “oh this will take five minutes” look out. If you do 20 five minute things that is ONE HOUR.

          We do a lot of things that are just a waste of time and we do them on a regular basis. I started looking at this years ago and I have never stopped. I remember in the 8os buying a bath mat that had no rubber backing on it so I could throw it in the washer with everything else. I figured hotels used them. I was so proud to save time from washing that stupid rubber back bath mat. (I amuse easily.) I like to tweak what I am doing to cut some time off the task. I will make two days worth of lunches each Monday and Wednesday. This gives me time on Tuesday and Thursday to do something else.

          1. Stone Satellite*

            I just put the rubber-backed bath mat in the wash anyway. Admittedly, I don’t invest a lot of money in bathroom floor coverings so I don’t lose any sleep over having to replace it every five years instead of every ten due to washing machine wear.

      4. SleepSoundly*

        Coming from the sleep angle – if you are not already on sleep aids (such as ambien) please talk to your doctor. After years of not sleeping well (couldn’t fall asleep) I finally talked with my doctor. Life is different now. I’m no perfect rose in the morning, but I’m actually well rested! And I can function! I don’t take the pills every day (the side-effects can be scary), but I do take them at least a couple times a week when I really need to be refreshed in the morning! Your stress levels will drop some as well!

        1. Emma*

          Yeah, this. I have a sleep disorder, and getting treatment for it definitely helped. I find it kind of amazing, in retrospect, how normalized insomnia has become – we’ve normalized the idea of not getting enough sleep, not waking up easily, waking up at all hours of the night. In my case, all of those (plus utter exhaustion in the afternoon, no matter how little I’d done that day) were symptoms of an actual problem.

          As for noise in the home, seriously, try earplugs. There are a few different kinds out there, and you might find one that works for you. But I will say that after I got my sleep disorder under control, my sensitivity to environmental noise and light went way down.

      5. Brooke*

        This is something I struggle with a great deal. I’m a mid-career professional and I’m only late for things first thing in the morning. Like most things, there’s multiple causes. First, I have mild sleep apnea, diagnosed with a sleep study. Not bad enough to need a CPAP but it does mean I tend to need a lot of sleep to make up for my sleep not being of super high quality, and I’m asleep the second my head hits the pillow. Second, I have some issues with depression which worsens with winter (aka, Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is fairly well treated but still has an impact. Third, times of particularly stressful time at work (this being one of them) causes some anxiety/dread that doesn’t exactly have me hopping out the door.

        I’ve tried novel alarm clocks (the types that make you do puzzles, move around, etc) and have switched dog-walking times from evening to morning, swapping with my SO, to see if getting fresh air would help (plus a living, breathing alarm clock of an antsy doggie) :) My workday technically starts at 8:30. I get to work around 9am. There’s little/no tangible impact since I never work less than the minimum required hours per week – typically I work more, and am widely known as an efficient, high-performing colleague.

        … but I still get down on myself about this. I did find a book particularly interesting with regards to sleep, timing, etc – Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired by Till Roenneberg. You might find it helpful, if for no other reason than understanding somewhat of why people are predisposed to patterns of sleep and wakefulness.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          If your insurance covers a CPAP, you might want to reconsider: my CPAP *changed my life* (though my apnea is severe). I am totally a CPAP evangelist.

          If you can’t use a CPAP, you might try a Breathe Right strip on your nose at night – some people with mild apnea find that this helps. The ugly beige ones adhere better than the clear ones IME. The old “sleep on your side” trick can help, too.

          1. daisy*

            I LOVE my sunrise alarm clock! I’m usually awake by the time the alarm sounds, because the progressive sunrise is so effective.

            On the topic of light and sleep: Installing f.lux on your computer or enabling Night Shift (or similar for Android) on your phone can help you avoid being kept up all night by screens.

        1. SRB*

          * Wow that didn’t work at all. Let’s try that again without the symbols, heh…

          So last year I lived with my 3-am-bedtime-night-owl husband, a less-than-1 year old puppy and a kitten … in a 500 square foot studio…with no doors. Here are the tricks that worked for me to get up at a reasonable hour.

          1. Budget for snooze. If I can wake up at 9 am, I can leap out of bed. But if I have to be up before then, I must hit snooze. Even now, my alarm is set for 30 minutes before I need to wake up. My “final” alarm has a different ring. If that doesn’t work, place your alarm on the other side of the room.
          2. White noise machine. Husband would play video games in our studio and even the little “taptaptap”ing would drive me nuts. I just put an air purifier on high next to my bed to drown out the sound. Plus a mask over my eyes for the light.
          3. Do things the night before, and simplify what has to be done. I used to take loooong hot showers and have sooo many clothes. Now I’ve got a capsule wardrobe, short hair, and a weak water heater. I take a very quick shower (~5 minutes), put out an outfit, and put stuff where it belongs the night before. It also may be sacrilege to some but… you may not *need* to shower every day, especially if you’re getting home at 11 and don’t have time.
          4. For things you can’t do the night before, do at work. If I wear makeup (rarely), I put it on at work. I get coffee at work. I eat breakfast at work. (But fourth grade me would remind you: don’t wait till you’re at work to put on shoes… or you might forget them at home and show up to school -ahemwork- with no shoes …)

          1. Honeybee*

            Capsule wardrobe + short hair has cut SOOOOOOOOO much time out of my morning routine. Most mornings I don’t even touch my hair. It’s fantastic!

            1. OP*

              My hair is ridiculously long, and I have to put it up every day in something more than a ponytail or it gets really tangled. I’m planning on getting a haircut soon, not too short, but definitely much shorter and that should shorten morning maintenance time.

              1. halpful*

                when I had really long hair I’d braid it before bed – both to limit the tangles and because if it was wet when I braided it, it’d be all nice and wavy the next day. :)

            2. aelle*

              Can you tell me more about the caspule wardrobe thing? I’ve read about them in several places but I cannot understand how to make them work without basically doing laundry every day.

              1. Batshua*

                The way *I* do it is that I own five pairs of black pants. I own more than five (eight, I think) tops that I wear to work. I just pick a top and it goes with my pants. Problem solved.

                I know that folks who are into fashion have a more complicated but more sophisticated and professional-looking version of this, but I just don’t want to think about clothes and making them match every day.

                1. M-C*

                  Batshua is perhaps pushing the capsule idea to an extreme :-), but she’s got a much better idea of it than doing laundry every day. Basically, a capsule is a set of clothes that all go together, every combination works. You put on your black pants, you grab any top, you throw over any jacket needed for the weather, you’re set. You can put more thought into it and not look exactly the same every day (I have black -and- brown pants :-)) but you only do laundry once a week and you don’t have to think about clothes in the morning. I highly recommend a bit of research aelle, check out my fave youlookfab for good examples, or theviviennefiles for more theory.

        2. SRB*

          Also…”My housemates are not the best at being considerate of my sleeping time as they tend to feel that everyone should get up when they do.”

          You have my sympathy. My family sometimes sends me “X habits of highly successful people”, “X things successful people do in the morning”, “X things you must do in the morning to be successful”, “All of the reasons why you not being a morning person mean that you’re a terrible human being and a lazy bum who just isn’t trying hard enough and can never succeed in anything”.

          Not really on that last one, but it feels like that sometimes. I just want to yell sometimes…those of us who are more productive in the afternoon aren’t lazy! Grrrr. Thank goodness I don’t live with her.

      6. Kriss*

        then I have another recommendation for you since you have a lot of commotion going on in your house. I sometimes use it when I travel for work: sleep mask & earplugs. the earplugs block out sounds outside of the room but are still not so soundproof that I can hear the alarm go off (& it’s on the other side of the room)

      7. Honeybee*

        OMG, OP, we really *are* the same person.

        I had terrible insomnia; I had to see a therapist about it. I used to run on about 3-5 hours of sleep a night regularly because I just could not go to and stay asleep. Sleep aids helped, but they made me super groggy the next day and I was also more prone to sleeping through alarms because they make you sleep SO hard. (The therapist helped me learn non-medication ways to sleep regularly.) I also have stress-triggered migraines and I used to get them 3-4 times a week. I was miserable. I ended up starting to take a beta blocker for them and now I only get them a few times a month (like 1-3).

      8. Meredith*

        I’m thirding the earplugs suggestion! My ex-husband snored crazy loud so I started using them when we were together, but I found that they also helped with being able to sleep all the way up until my alarm went off (you can still hear your alarm, don’t worry. They just muffle things so that they’re easier to tune out), rather than starting to wake up and drift in and out once either someone else gets up or just the neighborhood noise starts. Also, I’ve been using them so long that it’s become a Pavlovian response – when I put earplugs in, my brain goes, “Oh, it’s sleep time!” and I can fall asleep much easier; and on the reverse side, when I take them out in the morning, my brain goes, “Oh, it’s time to be awake!” and I wake up a bit easier too.

        Also seconding the suggestion to give yourself a snooze buffer. I, too, have a hard time getting up in the morning and I know that it takes me at least a half an hour to fully wake up enough to actually get out of bed. I’ve never been able to just wake up from dead sleep and jump up like some people – I will literally fall over because my body is not ready for it. So, if I have to be up at 6:30AM, I have to set my alarm for 6AM at the latest.

        The other thing that struck me (and I read this in an article recently that I don’t remember where), is that for many chronically late people part of the problem is that they always ALWAYS underestimate the amount of time that it takes to do something and instead only remember the one time that it took the least amount of time. So, you took a shower in 5 mins once? Now you always think that a shower is only 5 mins, despite the fact that every other day you take at least 15. Made it to work in 10 mins one day when there was inexplicably no traffic? Now the time you allot for your commute is 10 mins, despite it usually taking 30 or more. If you can work on paying attention to how much time things ACTUALLY take (and write it down if that’s helpful so that your brain can’t trick you into thinking it will be the shorter amount of time), that may do something for you.

        Actually, the more I think of it, the more I like that idea. Try timing how long it takes you to do everything for a week and then average that out and write it all down so that you have a list like,
        Shower – 15 mins
        Breakfast – 25 mins
        Commute – at least 30 mins

        Then, when you’re planning your morning, go off of the list (while still building at least a small time buffer).

        The only other thing I would suggest is that when something happens in the morning that deviates you (like your cat getting sick) – stop and consider whether it REALLY needs to be dealt with in THAT moment. Yeah, cat sick is gross but unless it’s on something that will ruin before you get home, it will still be gross when you get home and you can clean it then. Not that I advocate just leaving gross stuff everywhere, but sometimes leaving for work on time is a higher priority and you can deal with some things later when you get home.

      9. Genebec*

        Have you looked into medical issues that may be affecting your sleep? I mention this because despite being in none of the risk groups, I was recently diagnosed with severe sleep apnea. My mother was flat out telling me I couldn’t get up in the morning because I was lazy, but it turned out to be the apnea (in combination with a medication I was taking with a side effect of “sleep disturbances.”

      10. halpful*

        “I’m also prone to tension headaches and I have stress-triggered migraines”


        k, now you get a bit of my chronic pain infodump too:
        – topical magnesium is a wonderful muscle relaxant (provided you actually rest after applying it).
        – if you ever end up on heavy-duty migraine meds that give you dry mouth, xylitol is magic.
        – my favourite earplugs are Vater VSAS – they let me sleep when people were drilling into concrete below my apartment, while my migraine-induced noise sensitivity was unimaginably bad. Anything with the same christmas-tree shape is probably not bad though.
        -meditation/mindfulness won’t make the pain go away, but it can reduce the suffering (*if* it works for you; please don’t force it if it feels wrong)

        good luck getting out of that house!

        1. OP*

          I use meditation to get to sleep a lot, it helps with my anxiety and insomnia. I’ve discussed migraines with my doctor before but nothing really came of it, so I’m not sure how to approach the prospect.

          1. halpful*

            well, hopefully there’ll be less headaches the less stress and sleep deprivation you have… but it might be useful to start logging them. iirc doctors usually ask what kind of pain, where it is, whether it’s on both sides, and how long it lasts.

      11. motherofdragons*

        Yep, sounds way more like a sleep and stress issue than a you-being-late issue. I feel for you, having been in that kind of environment before!

        I’m a pretty sensitive sleeper, so my nighttime “ensemble” includes foam earplugs (around $12 for a bunch of them on Amazon) and a sleep mask (around $15 on Amazon). We also bought a white noise machine which is AWESOME, but there are some great free sleep noise apps out there too. I use Relax Melodies by Ipno Soft when my husband takes the white noise machine on work trips. It’s cool because there’s dozens of different sounds (ocean waves, rain, even vacuum cleaner!), and you can pick more than one sound to create your own custom “blend.” I might be a little obsessed with it. Anyway!

        Regarding stress – any chance your school has a health clinic and/or student health insurance? It’s possible that some migraine medication, sleep aid and/or anxiety meds would work wonders for you (I know it has for me). Your schedule seems really full or I would recommend seeing a therapist, honestly – you are dealing with a boatload of stress right now. No wonder your sleep is impacted! There’s a very good chance that treating your stress will help some of your sleep problems.

        1. OP*

          My school does have a health clinic, and I think they offer therapy services also. I have pretty good insurance, I just have a hard time finding time to make an appointment, since most therapists don’t have many weekend hours. I just got a sleep mask actually. I used to use them, but I just stopped for some reason. (Not sure how that would work with the sunrise alarm clock suggestions though.)

    4. Anonymustard*

      I also suspect that the VERY lenient arrival time at work makes it hard to get in on time. I have a workplace where I don’t “technically” have to be in at 10am. I’m usually 10-30 minutes late to work unless I have an alarm on my phone labeled “CALL [client]” or “STAFF [event]” or something else that is time-sensitive and will ruin my reputation if not done. The initial terror usually overrides my desire to stay warm and comfy.

  2. May*

    I don’t know if this would solve anything but back in college I used to run my watch 7 minutes fast because even though I knew the time was wrong it still made me really nervous every time I looked at it and I was never late for anything.

    1. May*

      Oh and if hitting snooze too much is a problem you could always try putting your alarm out of arm’s reach of the bed so you have to actually get up to turn it off.

      1. Collie*

        They have alarms that will roll off your night stand and around the room until you get up and turn it off! I don’t use that myself (I just build in snooze time to my system), but I hear they’re fantastically awful in the best way.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          We have one of those because my boyfriend is bad at waking up, and we actually don’t use the roll-around function because the alarm sound sounds like R2-D2 being beaten to death with a frying pan and that alone is sufficient to get his rear in gear.

          1. EddieSherbert*

            Best description ever!

            I had an alarm clock in college that sounded like a bomb ticking (and ticked faster if you didn’t turn it off right away). I used it once and my roommate told me she’d throw it out the window if I ever used it again… Hahaha.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              I had a college roommate who promised to wake me up for class every day if I would just not turn my awful alarm clock on.

            2. Ineloquent*

              My sister could sleep through anything, as attested by the fact that she slept through an alarm clock louder than any other I’ve heard with a locked door. Her roommates tried to get in to turn it off unsuccessfully for at least half an hour. It did not foster roommate friendliness.

        2. Jersey's Mom*

          Borrow my cat. Every morning he comes into the bedroom at 5:15am at screams at the top of his lungs for 2-3 minutes. If one of us does not hop out of bed, he will start strolling around the house emitting hair-raising shrieks at irregular moments.

          1. AnotherAnon*

            I think I would benefit from that, actually. I’m happy to organize a cat exchange with you; mine doesn’t seem to notice mornings and is seldom useful in helping me wake up.

            1. dawbs*

              automatic treat dispenser at 6:30 am for 3 weeks. Then turn it off and see what happens…
              (for years, I wouldn’t give mine morning treats, so he only wakes up my husband, who does give morning treats, but then we had to give meds, and now he’s an equal opportunity asshole.)

          2. EddieSherbert*

            My cat is slightly more polite… he only does that if my alarm has already gone off, or I move. At all.

            Hahaha :)

        3. Yamikuronue*

          Or if you use your phone as an alarm, there’re alarm apps that make you scan a specific barcode to shut it off, like maybe your shampoo in the bathroom

          1. Kira*

            Ooh, that might be good for me. I’ve tried setting it on the other side of the room so I have to get out of bed, but it never works because that short distance isn’t enough to snap me out of sleepy mode (also, falling back asleep is one of the most delightful things in the world). But putting my phone in a different room isn’t an option because I won’t hear it.

          2. Parenthetically*

            Yes! Or match a photo!

            (I’m just lazy enough that I would get up, take the damned photo of the coffee pot, and go back to bed. I swear I’m a responsible adult, I just really, really hate getting up in the morning.)

          3. JeannieNitro*

            I use this. It lets me snooze twice and then I have to get out of bed and scan the shampoo in the bathroom or it won’t quit going off. I get angry every morning, but it does force me out of bed.

            The only problem is that I think start messing around on my phone in the bathroom instead of taking a shower . . . .

          4. Nerdy Canuck*

            There’s also ones that will force you to solve math problems, or other mental tasks, before you can hit snooze – to fight morning brain.

            Unfortunately, my morning brain is clever enough to just take the battery out of the phone instead.

        4. Edith*

          Or you can just keep your alarm clock on the other side of the room to begin with so you have to physically leave bed to turn it off.

          I remember Weekend Update years ago reporting that a German high schooler had invented a bed that would eject you onto the ground if you didn’t get up in time. Seth Meyers joked it won the award for most German invention ever.

        5. Ellie H.*

          I had one of those! I was able to sleep through it starting, but not ALL of it (to the best of my recollection). However it did foil me once when it ran out of batteries w/no warning and didn’t start the next day and for whatever reason I just stopped using it at that point. I actually think it might have simply stopped working and I wasn’t enamored enough to try and fix it.

      2. Newby*

        If it is very important for me to be up by a certain time, I set my alarm like normal and then also set my phone alarm for half an hour later and place it across the room.

      3. H.C.*

        On a similar note, I use a smartphone app as my alarm clock and I have to either enter a Captcha or solve math equations before I can snooze/turn off the alarm.

        Needless to say, not much point going back into bed after doing that.

          1. H.C.*

            It’s called Alarm Clock Xtreme; they have a free & a paid version (I think $3-4?) After a successful few weeks on the free one, I sprang the few bucks to get a few more nifty features.

            1. SaaSyPaaS*

              Thank you! I always have a Google credit (from using Google Rewards). I haven’t found any apps I’d want to pay for recently, but this one looks promising.

            2. Honeybee*

              Timely had a function that allowed you to do this, too. Math equation or a long string of numbers or something like that. It’s one of the Android apps I miss the most. (I have an iPhone but I’m planning to get a Pixel phone next!)

            3. Leisabet*

              I had that app. Turns out I CANNOT math first thing in the morning. I ended up turning off my phone… and then going back to sleep.

            4. esra (also a Canadian)*

              Seconding this. It’s a nice-looking app with lots of great features.

              Although my cat recognizes the alarm tune now. No snooze for esra.

          2. Sarianna*

            Sleep As Android also has this feature, and several other CAPTCHA options. The one I use is ‘tap the awake sheep’ (and shows many sheep in various places across the screen…but only one has its eyes open) and I’ve got it set to the highest difficulty level (the screen changes about once a second, and I need to tap five awake sheep…. and for each one I mistap, it adds another to my to-be-tapped! The randomization element and quick-response works very well for waking me up.

        1. AyBeeCee*

          There’s also one I’ve heard of that requires you get up and scan a bar code. Doesn’t matter what, it can be some product in your bathroom or your cereal box or whatever, but it gets you up out of bed.

          As someone else mentioned, I set some of my clocks fast (7-9 minutes, I don’t know exactly how fast) and it’s enough to trick my brain into realizing that yes it’s almost X time, I need to get my butt in gear. I also used to have a secondary alarm in the morning (music) to let me know that it was almost time to go so if I wasn’t dressed already I needed to hurry up.

      4. Wendy Darling*

        My SO developed the ability to turn off his alarm in his sleep, so he now has two alarms. One normal-volume one in the bedroom and one HORRIBLY LOUD OBNOXIOUS ONE in the living room.

        As a bonus if the living room one goes off for more than like 15 seconds and he doesn’t get up and deal with it I wake up and make him get up and turn it off because it is awful.

        1. Karo*

          Turning my alarm off in my sleep is like my superpower. Thankfully you can’t turn dogs off; they just keep licking your face until you get up and deal with them.

          1. H.C.*

            Ha, similar case with my friend and her cats. Their paws-petting for breakfast soon turn into claws-out scratching if she doesn’t set out their breakfast.

      5. Liz*

        In high school, my best friend had to use four alarm clocks set at increasing distances from her bed to get to school on time.

        Thankfully, she’s become easier to rouse since then.

        1. May*

          I am so not a morning person at all so even though I’ve been working a 9-5ish schedule for over six years I still need an elaborate system of four different alarms to get up in the morning. And once every few months I still manage to sleep through all of them and am late to work which I haaaate. If left to my own devices I would sleep AT LEAST 10 hours a night to be honest.

          1. Ms_Morlowe*

            Switching up your alarm tones every few weeks can fix that: I definitely find myself getting too used to hitting snooze after a couple of weeks with the same tones, no matter how obnoxious, or just sleeping through them, but changing them regularly prevents me from getting so used to them I can sleep through them.

      6. Sfigato*

        yeah definitely put your alarm where you have to get out of bed to turn it off. That helps immensely.
        Also, instead of trying to get to work at 9, try to get to work at 8:45. That way you have some padding. I’m generally early to things because when I try to come exactly on time, i usually end up 5 or ten minutes late.

      7. Dweali*

        I just get up turn it off and go back to bed…it’s sort of automated almost like if you wake up to pee in the middle of the night and go right back to sleep (which is also me)

      8. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I have my FitBit alarm set to vibrate at 5:30 am, then again at 5:45 am, and my “real” alarm on my phone is set to 6:00 am. When each of the FitBit alarms goes off, I wake up only enough to press the button to shut it off, and I’m just vaguely aware that I’ll be waking up “for real” soon. Then when the phone alarm goes off, I’m in a light enough sleep that I can just hop* right up.

        *Okay, I don’t really “hop”; I begrudgingly wake up and get out of bed.

      9. LBK*

        Growing up I had a lofted bed (not just up on risers, it was actually a bunk bed where we took the bottom bunk out). In high school, I could actually climb out of bed, shut the alarm off and climb back into bed while still semi-comatose and then immediately fall back asleep once I got back into bed.

        When I say I’m not a morning person, I am not. messing. around.

        1. aeldest*

          I’M NOT ALONE!

          People never believe me when I tell them I was able to do that.

          I was actually staying asleep to the point where I could. not. figure. out. how my alarm clock kept turning itself off in the mornings. I actually wondered if my younger brothers were “pranking” me. I didn’t find out what was happening until one morning when I woke up dangling from the loft bed ladder, arm wedged in one of the ladder rungs. All of my limbs had fallen asleep, and I guess I had launched myself down the ladder but had been unable to coordinate actually climbing down. I had to stay hanging there for a minute until my arms and legs woke back up :(

          1. Honeybee*

            I’m sorry, but I am over here cracking up at the vision of you being stuck in the loft bed ladder sound asleep.

        2. Nina*

          High five!

          My college roommate used to leave her music blaring through her headphones every night, and she slept in a lofted bed. So I would stagger out of bed every night and turn the mute button on so I could get some sleep. One time I banged my head on the bottom rail of her bed.

          And now, even in my zombielike state of sleep, I can still be conscious enough to turn off the snooze, or just the alarm itself. I wish a rolling alarm clock or scanning a barcode would help. It would take something like a marching band screaming out algebraic equations for me to rouse myself out of bed.

        3. Kate, short for Bob*

          I once only woke up on the way back to bed from switching the alarm off on the other side of the room because I tripped and chinned myself on the bed frame. Ow.

        4. Nolan*

          One time, in my sleep deprived youth working 3rd shift, I was awoken in the late afternoon by a friend’s phone call. We spoke briefly about hanging out, and then got off the phone.

          Five hours later, I woke up to find that he’d been leaving me messages wondering where I was, and I had no idea why. I’d had the entire conversation in my sleep and had no memory of it whatsoever. After a few more calls like that I told people they needed to keep me on the phone for a minimum of 15 minutes if they wanted to be sure I was actually awake for the conversation.

          1. OP*

            I once had an entire conversation over the phone with my mother. I woke up as I was hanging up on her and had to immediately call her back and ask what we had talked about. It was incredibly embarrassing.

      10. blushingflwr*

        I used to sleep in a loft bed and had my alarm clock across the room. I had to climb down the ladder and turn off the alarm. And then I would curl up on the couch and snooze.

      11. Ellie H.*

        I can sleep through absolutely ANYTHING. (Not every morning, but sometimes – obviously depends a little on how tired I am, but otherwise possibly random) I don’t think it’s even a noise level thing, I think it’s in my brain. There have been a lot of times when my mom wakes me up (when I’m staying at my parents house) to tell me that my alarm is going off, and I wake up because I hear her speaking to me and she is TELLING me that the alarm is going off, but I literally don’t hear the sound of the alarm for a moment before whatever part of my brain is processing that sound actually activates, and then I can suddenly hear it very loud and everything. It’s kind of uncanny and freaks me out a little bit, this moment of deafness. I know you can hear in your sleep but your brain actually filters some of it out. It’s totally psychological because this 100% never, ever happens when I have something vitally important I need to get up for.

        1. Not Yet Looking*

          Such a big crowd we are! I’ve also found that conversation with me can rouse me better than alarms can. My biggest problem actually is when those around me don’t have to get up, but I do, and my brain seems more worried about keeping them from waking up than actually getting me moving…

    2. Not Karen*

      I had a friend in college who did this but then adjusted for the time difference in her head so she was still late.

      1. Batshua*

        This is my problem. Any trick I come up with to keep me early or on time will be compensated for after a brief period of success. It is so frustrating!

        1. Gandalf the Nude*

          Same! I thought I was so clever, setting up an NFC tag in my bathroom so I’d have to get up and tap my phone to it to turn off the alarm. But then I started waking up 15 minutes later because my body had learned how to go turn off the alarm and crawl back under the covers while still asleep.

          1. Mona Lisa*

            I have an amazing power sleeping through anything. I even tried hiding multiple alarm clocks around my bedroom in high school, and it never helped me wake up. It just made me angry!

          2. Stone Satellite*

            I see an Rube Goldberg opportunity here. What if, when you turn off the thing in the bathroom, it dumps a bucket of cold water over you? If you rigged it up in the shower it wouldn’t even be very messy.

      2. May*

        I guess maybe it worked for me because I was already a generally punctual person, I was just really paranoid. It kind of backfired the day one of my professors asked to borrow my watch for class because the clock in the room was broken and I had to explain my system to him and he thought I was insane.

        1. Koko*

          This strategy has always helped me. I only do it with my bedroom and car clocks, which are 10 minutes fast. My watch, phone, kitchen clock, etc. are all accurate. Even though I’m aware that the bedroom and car clocks are 10 minutes fast, it helps me more viscerally grasp the passage of time.

          If I have to leave at 1:15, at 1:05 I’ll still be surfing the internet thinking I have tons of time before I need to get out the door. But when I look at the clock and see 1:15, I suddenly think of all the things I need to do before it’s really that time: “Shit, it’s about to be 1:15, I need to get my shoes on and my bag packed and make sure the cats are fed.”

          It’s hard to explain but just seeing the future time on the clock gives my brain a bit of an adrenaline jolt, and so “10 minutes til 1:15” feels like a later time than “1:05” even if they are technically equivalent.

      3. Mona Lisa*

        I have tried this, and I’ve always done the time difference in my head. Also now using a phone as my most common time piece has refuted any clock changing I do in my house.

      4. A. Nonymous*

        I was that friend. I’m still that friend, I set my alarm and clocks early and while I can’t seem to GET UP, I can do math in my sleep. :(

      5. OP*

        This is me exactly! I tried this for a while but even my half asleep brain was adjusting automatically for what time it actually was and it didn’t help me at all.

      6. V*

        When I was in college, I had my boyfriend reset my watch and alarm clock to run anywhere from 0-10 minutes ahead and not tell me how far ahead. He would change them every week or so. It worked really well because I had no idea just how fast they were or if they were even fast at all.

        But cell phone clocks now render this plan obsolete. :(

    3. J*

      In winter, I use a sunrise clock that starts brightening the room 30 minutes prior to when the alarm is set. This helps somewhat with waking–it’s not as jarring as an alarm going off suddenly.

      1. orchidsandtea*

        Seconded — we need light-blocking curtains to sleep, so we got an alarm clock that slowly increases in yellow light, then goes to white light, then plays sounds or the radio. It actually wakes us up. It wasn’t terribly expensive ($60?) and it’s helped significantly.

        We also started going to bed earlier, because it turns out we were just really tired.

      2. Cheese*

        OMG we just got this alarm clock and it’s amazing! It’s just started getting to the point where it’s still dark when i wake up and it’s SO nice to have the room already lit up when it’s time to wake up.

      3. Aardvark*

        I have one and I love it because it’s pretty…but it doesn’t help wake me up any better than the clock it replaced. I think it’s because I come from a long line of intractable night-owls. Sigh.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I tried one of those, but the gradual brightening was enough to wake me up thirty minutes before my alarm went off, and I was irritated to be awake thirty minutes early.

        1. JaneB*

          As someone who also struggles with mornings (used to be a lark, but have chronic depression/anxiety, which means disrupted sleep, problems winding down quickly in the evening, and ‘everything is awful in the morning’ (known symptom), plus I also have various allergies and stress-related sinus issues and IBS type symptoms, which means that some mornings it takes a couple of hours to feel fit to drive (i.e. not so dizzy I’m staggering into things, can get my contact lenses in, not needing to be within 5 foot of the loo)) I have much empathy! I like my sunrise lamp because it makes waking up less painful, but I especially find the sunSET setting at bed time helpful in getting me to actually go to sleep.

          The only thing that works for me at the moment (I teach some days, and I CAN’T be late then without substantial professional consequences) is to ditch having any kind of life outside of work in the week which doesn’t actively help me get up early. I set an alarm I can’t reach from the bed two hours earlier than I need, so that If I feel really awful I can take a med and go back to bed for half an hour, and if I’m really dopey it doesn’t matter if I take two hours to get through routines that should take 20 minutes. if I get done early, I go to work early. Sometimes I then read in my car if I can, ortake a little walk, or work on some handicraft, but usually I just go to work (professional job, the work is NEVER DONE). And in the evenings I have to stop everything other than getting wound down by 8pm (this is a total pain as all my “good hours” in semester time are in the evening/very early morning, so reading and writing and studying for pleasure all have to happen in “not so good hours” before 8 or on the weekends).

          Out of the semester and on weekends I try to get up at the same painful time, but have a luxurious lunchtime nap of as much as 3 hours – that seems to be enough to keep me going (for some reason I have far fewer nightmares/anxiety dreams/wake-up-fretting episodes if I sleep during daylight hours). The working world just doesn’t suit me, and that’s at least partly a disability thing (my employer says they are willing to have me not teach early classes, BUT that they can’t manage it “just for this semester” (for the last 5 years, 10 semesters, running) and they’ve cut down the amount of parking on site so that if you come in after 9in semestertime you can’t park anywhere within a mile or so of the building I work in anyway.

          I’m not chronically late in an ‘it just happens’ way – I’m chronically late in an ‘I physically cannot do this any faster/sooner’ way. And I’m sorry to say on a bad morning I pretend the cat puke isn’t there, and clean it up in the evening. Terrible housekeeping seems to go along with my other health issues…

          Dread that this is my life for the next 20 years or so (assuming I can afford to retire ever, it’ll be that far off), so will be reading this thread for tips and ideas!

        2. Dee*

          Mine, which is one of the more expensive models, lets you adjust the duration of the faux-sunrise, if that’s any help.

        3. J*

          The poster downthread who mentioned a friend who gets up, brushes her teeth, and then goes back to bed for another 20 minutes? That’s kind of how it works for me. I wake up when the dim light comes on, but I get that extra 15 minutes of staying in my cocoon before I actually get up (15 minutes before the time the alarm is set for).

        4. CollegeAdmin*

          YES my ex-boyfriend had one of these and I always woke up before it reached the brightness it was supposed to. I hated it.

      5. hugseverycat*

        I also have a sunrise clock and it is great. It is very nice to not be jolted out of a deep sleep by an alarm.

      6. Sensual Shirtwaist*

        Finally decided to shell out for one of these, it helps a lot. It also helps that the ‘birdsong’ is a 5 second loop of starlings. which is… not pleasant to listen to. I still have to back it up with a lamp on a timer that comes on at the end of the brightening cycle. So… 30 minutes of gentle brightening + 10 minutes of starlings (what were they thinking!)+ 10 minutes of ‘oh my god turn off the sun’ and I’m up.

    4. Abby*

      Hah, the clock in my car is about 5 minutes fast and I’ve never really bothered to change it (cycling through 50 minutes to get it back on track? UGH). Virtually all my passengers panic a little when they see the time until I explain it to them.

      1. Koko*

        Mine is intentionally 10 minutes fast and I actually love the reaction I get from passengers when I notice they’re getting a little nervous about the time, and then I say, “By the way, that clock is ten minutes fast.” The relief that washes over their faces, it’s as if I added ten minutes to their life by saying that.

      2. RKB*

        No matter how many times I reset it, my car clock reverts to being fifteen minutes fast. I’ve just decided to leave it. My little sister always forgets and thinks we’re late to catch her bus, which is part of the charm.

    5. FCJ*

      I had a job where I had to be in at 3am, and one thing I did to keep from sleeping in was set the alarm on my phone to about 15 minutes before I HAD to get up, and then get a second alarm clock set to the actual time I needed to be out of bed, and set it up across the room from me. That worked really well, because I was able to let myself wake up slowly and hit snooze a couple times, but I wasn’t in danger of accidentally turning the alarm off and going back to sleep or something.

    6. INFJ*

      It works for me if I set it exactly 2 minutes fast. That way, it’s close enough to the actual time that I can’t just do math in my head and say, “Oh, I really have 5 more minutes.”

    7. SaasyPaas*

      I do this too (watch, car clock, kitchen clock, etc.). Unfortunately, the only thing it did was make me really good at math and make any visitors or passengers worry that we were running late.

  3. AndersonDarling*

    I had a client that told me to schedule her for a time later than the time I told her. In other words, I ‘d mark her down for a 3:00 appointment, but I would tell her that the appointment was at 2:00. She said it was the only way she could be on time because she always ran an hour late.
    Could you convince yourself that your start time is 15 minutes before your actual start time?

    1. Blue Anne*

      We used to do this to my dad – tell him that things started 15 or 30 minutes before they actually did. Worked a treat!

    2. Not Karen*

      In terms of practical things, this is what has worked best for me. If I do the math and have to leave by 2:30, I tell myself I have to start getting ready to leave at 2 and be out the door by 2:15.

    3. LSCO*

      I have to do this with my OH. I’m not the most punctual person on earth, but he’s even worse. If we need to leave the house at 7pm, I’ll tell him we need to leave at 6:45 and if we’re lucky we’ll leave at 7:10..

    4. Orca*

      Similarly: my boyfriend’s family is always super late and when I say “I want to leave at [time]” he kind of takes it as a suggestion just because that’s how his family has operated. So now I usually say “I want to leave between [time minus twenty] and [time minus five]”, and we usually end up leaving in there or within five minutes, which is the time I actually want to leave. So, letter writer, it might help to give yourself a time bracket that’s still a little earlier than you want to leave. Not only will it help build in time for mistakes but the “I want to leave BETWEEN” is less pressure.

    5. late family*

      They told my uncle that they were starting pictures for HIS wedding an hour before the given start time–and he was still late. In general, we always tell this uncle different start times and it MOSTLY gets him there on time.

    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      We do this to my mother, otherwise she is literally hours late. It drives my husband crazy, and it’s really weird for me because she was 20 minutes early for absolutely everything when I was growing up. We have resorted to telling her to be there a half-hour early and leaving without her if she’s not there by the actual time we need to leave.

      She gets mad, but, in this circumstance, it’s her failure to plan/get moving/communicate that causes the problem, so my sympathy is limited. I have asked her to at least call/text so we know that we don’t need to be concerned when she’s AWOL for 3 hours (or, when her abusive former partner was alive, to call the police).

    7. BRR*

      This helpful isn’t really helpful to the LW but I caught my dentist doing this to me without me asking. They would tell you 2:00 then the reminded call would say 2:10. I was not pleased considering I have waited every single time.

    8. Dynamic Beige*

      I was on a tour group and the guide said that he had resorted to that strategy for a group from a particular country (not ours). When he said “we’re leaving at 8” they wouldn’t be there, so he started saying “we’re leaving at 7” and they would show up on time for 8.

  4. Jessie*

    I have an extra alarm on my cell phone go off ten minutes before I want to leave my house in the morning – it’s a good reminder to hurry up with last minute things!

    1. Callietwo*

      A few things-

      1) I found I was very stressed in the mornings due to a blaring alarm and that adrenaline rush in the morning it caused and it just totally threw me off. (You’re think that adrenaline would help but no.. not at all!)

      I found a “Sunrise Alarm” clock by Philips that has completely changed my mornings. It slowly brings the artificial sunrise into the room by starting 30 minutes before the alarm goes off it starts to slightly glow and get brighter till the alarm goes off. Its *wonderful*. No more stressed out mornings. And though I did not change my alarm time, I now actually have time to meditate for 10 minutes in the morning to start my day, which is amazing!

      (I do have a ‘back up’ alarm on my ipad across the room but it’s only gone off twice in the last year and a half since I found this sunrise alarm)

      2) I also lay out everything the night before, if you feel you’re still missing things- make yourself a checklist the night before, either a physical list or a digital list but make it something you have to actually check mark/cross off so you know you have that done. Even coat, hat, gloves and boots are put out at night so I’m not running around looking for those.

      3) Have a work bag that is already packed with your typical workday essentials so you don’t even have to take a minute to think about it. Just make sure if you use something, you replace it.

      4) Lunch/Snacks: I do not actually pack the physical bag the night before but I make sure I have something packed in a bowl/container the creamer for my coffee is in it’s container, and any snacks I might want are all ready to go so I can just toss it all in with my lunch bag. The only thing I don’t have at the ready is my water bottle, as I want it icy cold but it is on the counter next to the fridge. Add these things to your check list if you bring lunches. (We have a community fridge but I got sick of people ‘borrowing’ things I’d brought without asking and not having what I expected available to me!)

      5) Fill your gas tank on the way home so you don’t have to worry about that in the AM.

      But for me, a night owl that has to get up at 5:20 AM, the sunrise alarm clock has changed my mornings the most.

      Good luck!

      1. A non name today*

        I bought Phillips Hue lightbulbs which I think I use with the same concept. I’ve set them to gradually get brighter starting about 5 minutes before my alarm goes off. When I do hit snooze, I don’t go back to sleep quite as hard because there is a super bright light right in my face. Also, I don’t trip over stuff now on my way to turn on the light, so extra bonus!

      2. fishy*

        I am obsessed with my Philips light alarm! Works best for me when it’s pretty close to my face and on a brighter light setting, but it’s so much nicer than waking up to jarring noises. I usually wake up at least 10 minutes before the alarm actually goes off.

      3. Gandalf the Nude*

        Light is, I suspect, one of the big reasons I struggle with getting up in the morning. I have to leave the apartment an hour before my partner, so everything stays dark so he can keep sleeping.

        1. Mona Lisa*

          This is my issue as well. My husband typically sleeps another hour after I get up so I’ve tried not to turn on lights so that he can sleep. However, my constant alarms seem to not be helping with this. I actually just texted him because of this thread to see if he’d be open to me getting one of the sunrise alarm clocks!

        2. J*

          My husband sleeps right through my sunrise clock. The clock is on my side of the bed, and it’s not a very strong light. I can even leave it on to get dressed without waking him.

          1. Gandalf the Nude*

            I might have to look into this more, then. I assume it doesn’t run with the actual sunrise, right? Because that would be distinctly unhelpful this time of year.

            1. AnonyMouse*

              Nope, mine starts to glow 20-30 minutes before the time I set on my alarm. The one I have also has an adjustable level of brightness. About a 5 on my side of the bed will wake me up but not my husband (he’s a deeper sleeper than I am). If it were a 10 though, I think we’d both wake up.

              1. Callietwo*

                This is the one I have to, with adjustable levels.. mine has up to 20 light levels you can adjust it to… the ONE problem I have is that ‘hitting snooze’ is as easy as slapping your hand on the front (mine is about the size of a small dinner plate in diameter) so if I DO hit it I’m in trouble, hence the back up alarm across the room! :)

            2. fposte*

              Nope–you set it same as you do any other clock. With some I think you can set how fast the “sun rises,” too.

        3. silence*

          If you want something that won’t disturb your partner my fitbit wrist band has a vibrate alarm which is only noticeable to the person wearing it.

        4. Not using my usual name*

          Reading through this discussion, I’ve been thinking that waking up has gotten much harder over the last 5-6 years. Which was right around the time there was a peeping tom in my neighborhood and I put up light-blocking curtains in my bedroom. (Never caught … seems to have left the area but you never know. Plus, the curtains are wonderful when I have a migraine, so I don’t plan to replace them.)

          Anyway, all these years and I never connected the two! I’m going to get a light alarm to see if that helps.

      4. Aam Admi*

        I got the Philips Sunrise Alarm Clock too and it helps a lot during the cold, dark Canadian winters. Also, I do everything that CallieTwo listed as I need to wake up at 5:30am and be at work early.

      5. OP*

        I’m going to start trying the physical listing combined with everything I need the night before and time estimates. I have to be careful with my alarms though, my partner usually gets up earlier than I do, but if it’s the weekend and he doesn’t have to he gets really mad because he wakes up on a dime and I do not, so all my snoozes or even just one or two alarms makes him instantly awake and he gets irritated. thanks for the advice!

        1. smthing*

          For the lists, you can try using an app like Habitica (free, but you can donate to support). Habitica “gamifies” developing good habits and accomplishing tasks. It lets you have “dailies” which are tasks you get points for completing every day (you can adjust which days you do them in the settings). For example, you could set “choose and set out shoes for tomorrow” as a daily. You can also set up habits where you receive points for performing that habit. “Got out of bed without hitting snooze” might be an example of that.

        2. Venus Supreme*

          I was going to recommend lists! That helps me. My office has lax hours, but my boss made a comment about me coming in late and I had to restructure my mornings. Routines help. I can go on autopilot for especially sleepy mornings. Not sure if this is something you’d like to do, but I actually plan my outfits for the week on Sunday/Monday– more along the lines of “Ok, I have a meeting Thursday, I’ll wear this blouse and I know it’s in the top dresser drawer, Wednesday is a lax day, I’ll wear jeans and boots, that’s in the closet, etc.”

        3. Callietwo*

          The the sunrise alarm might be just the thing- I keep mine at around 11 for a light level.. enough to wake me up but hubby doesn’t even notice it!

          Good luck!

      6. Wilhelmina Mildew*

        The best alarm clock I ever had was some random clock radio from the 1970s my mom picked up at a thrift store and I wish I could find something like it today. What made it great was that- whether I had it set to wake with radio or alarm- it started off very soft and gradually got louder until it was BLARING. The alarm sound didn’t beep or buzz, it was just a very loud continuous noise like an air horn or some kind of siren. Both the gradual increase in sound and the non-irritating but still attention getting quality of the alarm made it less stressful than getting jolted out of sleep. I set the volume to max and would switch from news radio (talking irritates me too much to sleep through, though sometimes I’d hit snooze and dream about the news) to the siren and back continually so I wouldn’t get too used to either one. I sleep like a stone and once I’m down, light in itself won’t wake me up, I need a noise I can’t sleep through (my husband is convinced I could sleep through the end of the world.)

    2. Another Jessie*

      I do that too – but it doesn’t work anymore.

      I now have 2 alarms… one set up 10 minutes before it is time to go, another for 5 minutes.

      I still somehow end up leaving the house at least 2-3 minutes late!

    3. pussycats and toast*

      Yep, I have alarms consistently going throughout the morning. 6:45 is my ideal wake-up time (I have a gentle bird-chirping sound that starts quiet and gets louder); if absolutely necessary, I can hit snooze until 7am and I’ll still be okay. One goes off at 7:15am reminding me to leave within the next 5 minutes; if I’m not dressed at the point I’m really in trouble. And another one at 7:30 that usually goes off when I’m on the bus, that just reminds me that I’m on time; if I’m not on the bus yet, it’s a reminder that I’m probably going to be late and should text my manager.

    4. Trig*

      This is a good suggestion! My partner set a “GO TO WORK” alarm for himself after rolling in late to a few department meetings. Usually there was no consequence to him being late, but it reeeeally doesn’t look good when you’re the new guy and you show up 5-10 minutes late to an all-hands! It seems to work for him.

      He also set an alarm to remind him to scoop the cat litter. Bless that cell phone alarm.

  5. Annie*

    Do you actually go to bed earlier? I know you set your alarm earlier but are you adjusting your bedtime? Also, try picking out your clothes, packing your lunch, and doing anything else that you’ll need in the AM the night before. That way, you can literally grab and go in the AM

    1. misspiggy*

      Yes. These two things are the only strategies that have consistently helped my chronic lateness. The night before I mentally list everything I need to do to get out the door, and force myself to realistically estimate how long it will all take. If it will take longer than I have, I ditch certain activities – like breakfast, or wearing laceup shoes versus slip-ons.

      1. Elsajeni*

        And, if you’re making those estimates for the first time, you might also try tracking how long everything ACTUALLY takes so you can adjust your estimates in the future. Or start by just tracking, not trying to change anything — just list all the things you have to do in the morning, even the stuff that “doesn’t take any time” or “only takes a couple seconds,” and then track how long everything actually takes for the next few mornings. I know this is the thing that’s most likely to make me late — I think the part of my morning routine where I go upstairs, style my hair, get dressed, and put on my shoes takes about 3 minutes, but because it doesn’t occur to me that, like, “walk up and down the stairs” or “decide which shirt to wear” are also steps in that process that add a little bit of time, it really takes more like 5 or 7 minutes. Multiply that by all the other places where I’m underestimating how long something takes, and I can easily end up 15 or 20 minutes later than I expected to be.

        1. JustaTech*

          That’s brilliant! I really should time myself (probably on a weekend when I’m not actually in a hurry) and figure out how long it takes me to brush my teeth. Ever since I had to change when in the morning I brush my teeth (yay retainers!) I’ve been running 10 minutes late because my time-sense can’t remember that I can’t just hope up from the newspaper and leave, I have to go back up stairs for the 3-step dental hygiene process.

      2. Marisol*

        I think the “mentally” listing things might be a big problem for the OP (misspiggy are you the OP? I am confused). There are some people who are brilliant at remembering concrete items and estimating the time it takes for specific tasks, but they are not the kind of people who are chronically late and/or disorganized. I personally do not rely on my memory for anything and would never do so. I have a mild case of add, but am an executive assistant in charge of processing all kinds of data for other people, so I have two reasons to advocate writing things down. My point in case it’s not clear (I haven’t had my coffee yet) is to make a list on paper, with estimated times totalled at the bottom.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          I honestly think one of the big differences between chronically late people and on-time people is whether they think of things they have to do as individual tasks or as one big thing. I think the late people think in terms of individual tasks, like “it takes 15 minutes to drive to work” because it takes 15 minutes to DRIVE. Whereas the on-time people think in terms of the whole commute, “it takes 30 minutes from walking out my front door to sitting at my desk.” The late people are forgetting all the other things that have to happen other than actually driving, like walking from the parking garage into the office.

          My advice is, time how long it takes to do things in bigger chunks. How long does it take to GET READY (dressed, hair brushed, contact lenses in, shoes on, feed the cat, whatever you have to do to be physically ready to leave in the morning)? Start timing when your feet hit the floor, keep going until you’re ready to walk out the door. How long does it take to GET THERE door-to-door? If you try to add up each tiny little mini-step, you will always underestimate some or forget them entirely.

          Then, you only have two things to add up.

          1. Marisol*

            Hmm, I sort of agree with your first paragraph, in that the chronically late people equate “getting to work” with the entire set of tasks which comprise getting to work–so “getting to work” is really 1)walking to the car 2) driving 3) etc. But I think it’s the failure to break projects down into their constituent parts that causes the problem–seeing things in bigger chunks is hurting, not helping. It makes things abstract and vague when they should be concrete and specific.

            It would make sense to have a single chunk of “getting ready in the morning” as a header, and then list each task and the time it takes below that header, outline-style, and then do a total. So in that sense, a bigger grouping of tasks is good. But without specifically breaking the tasks down, people with time management problems underestimate the time they need, in part because they haven’t really articulated what they need to do. So someone thinks, “I only need 1/2 an hour to get ready in the morning” because they forgot about feeding the cat or whatever, and are consequently late because they actually needed 40 minutes. Time estimates can be adjusted with real world feedback, so for example, someone realizes they only need 3 minutes to brush their teeth instead of 5, but until tasks are broken down and examined, a person with time management problems is operating in the dark.

            1. LBK*

              I think Lynn’s solution is the right one, it’s just not phrased how I would phrase it – I agree that “bigger chunks” sounds like the opposite of the solution, but what she describes is basically remembering that there are a variety of steps to every action and that you can’t only take into account the main one. You can’t just think of the single isolated action at the core of each task, but rather the “bigger chunk” that surrounds it.

              For example, “taking a shower” in my brain only takes about 5 minutes, so when I get up in the morning to “take a shower,” in my head I will be back in my room ready to get dressed 5 minutes later. This is clearly insane, because “taking a shower” actually means going to the bathroom, waiting for the shower to get hot, showering, brushing my teeth, putting in my contacts and squeezing in 5-10 minutes of dicking around on my phone in between all of those things. So if I mentally change my first task after waking up from “shower” to a bigger chunk named “morning bathroom time” (or something less gross-sounding) then I can more accurately assess how long that task takes.

              1. Marisol*

                Yeah, I would agree with this but I am stuck on her idea that you shouldn’t try to calculate the time of the mini-steps. Maybe I have a bias because I have adhd and so I am thinking what would work for someone like me. Part of the problem is that some people can’t know how long “bathroom time” takes empirically, because there is no routine to gauge from. The OP sometimes can’t find her shoes, so that would mean “getting dressed” isn’t something she could reliably estimate. I think the main takeaway is that we shouldn’t underestimate the time it takes to do something, so don’t think “take a shower” is only 5 minutes when it’s really part of a bigger, more time-consuming process.

                1. LBK*

                  Agreed – I think it’s mostly about being realistic about the actual steps within each action (eg “get dressed” = choose outfit, waiting for iron to heat up, iron clothes, run around to find shoes, go back and grab belt you forgot to put on, etc.). Even if you don’t time out every individual step, acknowledging that these processes have more to them helps put things in perspective and estimate your time better.

    2. INTP*

      Yeah, if you cannot get up in the morning you are not sleeping enough, and that’s a problem for your health along with your timeliness. You have to find something that can budge so you can get to bed earlier. Melatonin pills will help you adjust physically.

      1. TL -*

        Oh I don’t know. I’m exhausted in the mornings but usually by the time I’m dressed I’m wide awake and not tired. Even if I got a lot of sleep.

        Though this thread reminded me I need to turn on my sunshine alarm clock now that it’s no longer summer! That certainly helps.

      2. Dweali*

        I don’t know about that…it doesn’t seem to matter if I sleep 4 hours or 18 (sadly I’ve done this) but I wake up worn put regardless…it may be more a quality of sleep as opposed to the quantity or they may be someone like me whose labs and tests all come back normal but still just not want to wake up right away (or worn out feeling)

      3. ZVA*

        I have to say this isn’t true in my experience. I have a hard time getting up no matter the time of day & how much sleep I got. I think it’s just a biological thing…

    3. Marillenbaum*

      This is something I’ve had to start doing. My AM routine really begins the night before.

      At 9 PM, my “Get off the internet and go the f*** to sleep!” alarm goes off. I have an app on my phone (Good Habits) which gives me the list of things I need to do once it goes off: make a sandwich, set up breakfast, pack bag, lay out clothes, etc. I take a shower, brush my teeth, and get into bed. Lights off at 11:15 ish (I give myself a bit of leeway to watch an episode of TV before bed–not ideal, but it works).
      In the AM, the first alarm goes off and I turn on the lights. This is key–I live in a basement and get very little natural light, and it’s WAY too easy to pretend it isn’t morning. I put on a podcast, and use Good Habits to get me through the morning routine: take medication, make bed, etc. Five minutes before I need to be out of the house, I have another alarm that says “Grab your s*** and GO!” so I put my shoes on and leave the house. It isn’t perfect–sometimes I stay in bed because mornings are rude, sometimes I’m still late to work because WMATA hates me–but I’m much more likely to do everything I need to do and feel okay about it.

      1. Morning Glory*

        Love the idea of a podcast!

        Pretty sure WMATA hates us all – I pad my travel time with an extra 30 minutes every morning and some days even that’s not enough.

      2. INTP*

        Love the idea of that app, or if the OP doesn’t like using apps, a general checklist. It seems like a big part of it is the OP forgetting things, or the morning getting chaotic in general. Using a checklist religiously for awhile would eliminate problems like forgetting things until being more organized becomes habit. A night checklist could include things like putting your badge and wallet in your purse, preparing your lunch, choosing an outfit (and trying it on to make sure it works if you haven’t worn it before), and getting breakfast ready to go. A morning checklist could include all of the items you need to make sure to have with you when you leave the house, as well as confirming that the stove is off and anything else you might return home to do. Don’t be afraid to make the checklist excessively detailed – no one is going to look at it and laugh at you, so the worst that will happen if it is too detailed is that you realize “I don’t really need that item on my list” and delete it eventually.

        Another way to leverage technology is to use alarms to remind you when you should be at specific points in your progress towards getting to work. You probably can’t pinpoint exact amounts of time that it always takes you to do everything, but you might find that generally you need to be dressed by 7:15, finished with breakfast by 7:30, grabbing your purse and items by 7:45 (a huge lateness-causer for me is that if I need to be on the road by 7:45, my brain will think of that as “I need to leave at 7:45,” and then by the time I’ve found my purse and locked the door and gotten in my car, it’s 7:55), pulling out of your parking spot at 8:00. You can use them for nighttime too – 9:00 start bedtime routine, 9:45 get in shower, 10:00 get in bed, 11:00 lights out.

  6. Early Annie*

    Lurker here. My advice is to get to bed earlier. A good night’s sleep not only mitigates the snooze button problem, but also early morning forgetfulness and you just generally take longer to get ready if you’re not fully rested.

    Fighting Crohn’s all my life, diarrhea always wakes me at 4am. I’ve learned I MUST get to bed early enough to get 7 hours or I’m foggy enough in the morning to makes starting my day a laborious task.

    1. A. Nonymous*

      I can’t speak for everyone, but getting to bed earlier actually makes me later in the morning. I’m overly tired or something like that. The barcode scanner alarm sounds like I’m going to have to try it. And then nail that barcode to something I can’t take with me to bed.

      1. nofelix*

        I use an app called ‘I Can’t Wake Up’. It’s free and has several options for silencing alarms, including a barcode scanning option.

        1. A. Nonymous*

          Thank you! I am going to try this barcode thing, it sounds like I will hate it, but it’s the best idea for getting up that I can see.

        2. Sophie*

          Thank you so much for the recommendation nofelix!

          I downloaded this straight away, and set everything up and what do you know… I got up, had time to put on make-up, made it to the bus on time and arrived 2 minutes early for work

  7. NW Mossy*

    Part of changing deep habits like lateness is stepping back to simply observe what happens, without pressuring yourself to change or feel guilty. I get the sense from your letter that you’re trying a whole bunch of changes at once, which is an overwhelming amount to manage mentally.

    Instead, try taking time to jot quick notes about the day for a month or so. A quick statement like “Late 5 minutes today, bad traffic, cat puked up hairball” or “Early 10 minutes, packed lunch the night before” can help you pick out patterns of events that consistently contribute to either being early or being late. From there, you can choose one from each category – reinforce a positive behavior that helps you be early and correct a negative behavior that makes you late. As those become habitual, you can gradually add in more changes in a way that’s sustainable.

    Timeliness is kind of like a muscle – you have to exercise it regularly to get stronger at it. And like with exercise, you don’t go from the couch to a marathon in a week. Allow yourself time to make changes gradually and you’ll likely see more progress long-term.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, it seems like there is a bunch of different things contributing to OP’s lateness – not finding stuff, unexpected cat-mergencies, weird traffic aren’t things that are in the same category so there’s really no one thing you can do that fixes them all, so I really like the suggestion to step back and observe.

      1. af*

        So cat-mergencies and weird traffic you can’t really do anything about – that’s life. But not finding stuff can be helped by doing everything the night before like many have suggested.

        1. BPT*

          But if a “weird unexpected thing” is happening just about every morning, then you plan for those. Traffic is always going to be unpredictable. There’s always going to be something that comes up at the last minute. You can plan for the unexpected by building in more time for it. That way, you’re only late when something really catastrophic happens.

          I mean I think OP is a little hard on herself – I’m chronically early and hate people being late, but 5 minutes is within an acceptable time frame for me.

          1. JustaTech*

            if traffic is unpredictable, maybe a program like Waze could help? It’s GPS directions that take current traffic conditions into account when planning your route. It makes you drive less predictable (which irritates the heck out of me) but it might help.
            If the OP is a total data nerd, they could even try to track how long the commute takes depending on when they leave (7:45 departure, 15 minutes, 7:55 departure, 25 minutes, that kind of thing).

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I had a commute that could be anywhere between 25 minutes and 90 minutes. It was usually around 30.

              My coping strategy was to plan to be at the office at least 30 minutes before I NEEDED to be somewhere (like a meeting or a phonecall). My phone also alerted me when there was a traffic catastrophe, so if it suddenly piped up saying my commute was going to take 50 minutes today I would get my rear in gear and leave earlier than normal if humanly possible.

              That allowed me to be on time like 98% of the time, which was a sufficient success rate that the 2% of the time I was a bit late due to TRAFFIC CATASTROPHE no one really held it against me. And usually those traffic catastrophes happened when I didn’t actually have anything super time sensitive on. I think ONE time I had to frantically call colleagues and ask someone to cover for me because they’d closed all lanes of the highway I was on, I was boxed in, and I was going to be like an hour late.

              1. orangecat*

                I’m the kind of person where if the commute takes 90 minutes one day, I will then start leaving early enough to allow 90 minutes. Even if on average it only takes 30. I’d rather get to work ridiculously early or walk around for an hour than be late.

                1. YuliaC*

                  Yes, that’s what I do as well, give myself enough time for most imaginable eventualities. So most days I am at work 1 hour earlier than scheduled. I use the time to work on personal projects, eat, read internet, meditate, etc. I haven’t been late once this year, as a result. And I came to love the quiet time at the office before everybody else comes in.

                2. Wendy Darling*

                  I probably would have been more conservative if this job had had strict hours, but really no one much minded when I appeared as long as I wasn’t late for meetings. I think I was 5 minutes late for a meeting due to awful traffic one time, other than the Traffic Disaster Incident (which still would have got me if I’d left 90 minutes early… I think my commute took over 2 hours that day! Me and everyone else who lived in my general vicinity.).

      2. Not So NewReader*

        After we moved in to the house, it took a bit of trial and error then one day, I realized:

        Grant me this day, my daily emergency.

        Let’s see what did we have?
        Chased the loose dog through the neighborhood, got him back and he puked on the floor.
        Coffee pot broke again.
        No eggs/toast/coffee.
        Clothes are still in the dryer and they are not drying.
        Door to house is frozen, can’t get out.
        Door to car is frozen, can’t get in.
        Car won’t start. Jumper cables are frozen in a round circle.
        Car will start but it won’t run.
        Farm tractor driving in front of me.
        Car in front of me not moving because it crashed.
        I crashed. Whoops.
        Tandem log truck in front of me. He’s going slowly so he can grow more trees before he gets to the paper mill some time next week.
        Power failure therefore no traffic light so everyone is afraid to enter the intersection.

        You get the idea.

        Once I reconciled myself to the fact that each morning would bring some sort of crisis, I started having better timing. I left the house 1 hour before work started. It was a 35 minute ride. I had no idea how many variables went into figuring commute time. I usually arrived 5 or 10 minutes ahead of time. Many days I had one minute to get in the door.

        Getting ready to go out the door was a similar story. Again, I just resigned myself to the idea that each morning was a test of my endurance and sometimes would test my will to live. With this knowledge in place, I lowered my expectations and I was able to cope much better. I remember some winters getting up at 3 am and still being a half hour late for work. That was pretty nasty.

        Punchline: Any time you catch yourself thinking “oh this should be easy, it should be straightforward” get ready to find out it’s not. I sure did.

    2. Mona Lisa*

      I really like this suggestion. I’m a chronically late person (CLP, ) like the OP, and reading through some of the other suggestions here made me laugh because I’ve tried nearly all of them to no avail. This actually strikes me as helpful data that could be used to change specific habits.

      It might be helpful to use a timer to figure out how long specific activities take, too. For me, I know that choosing an outfit and getting dressed takes 10-15 minutes, but there are some times I can do it in 5-7 so that’s what my brain remembers. Timing activities for a couple of weeks and then figuring out the longest or average time might help when building a morning.

      1. MK*

        This CLP article was amazing – it is exactly what goes through my head (and all the reasons why – aversion to changing tasks, especially – I would much rather be at home than at my office, but somehow when the end of the work day rolls around, I often end up staying late – just because I don’t want to stop what I’m doing – WHY??! What is wrong with me!?).

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I have found myself stuck like this on other things. The one thing I saw was that I can spend a bunch of time analyzing why I am this way or that way OR I can cut to the chase and figure out what it is going to take to burn it out of me. And I do mean burn, because sometimes it felt like it burned before a switch in my brain just flipped and I stopped doing whatever it was.

          My wise friend used to talk about starting things. Some people have difficulty starting. Part of the difficulty in starting is that they do not LET themselves STOP. Give yourself permission to go home on time. Give yourself permission to stop. See where that puts you. (Right, it will not feel natural at first. Try it anyway.)

      2. Meg Murry*

        Or, along these lines, set milestones (and alarms if necessary). Work backwards. To be out the door at 7:00, you need to have your shoes on, bag packed, coat on at 6:50. You need to have finished getting dressed by 6:35. You need to have finished eating breakfast by 6:15. Figure out which things are the most skippable (took too long deciding on clothes? Hair and makeup becomes ponytail and chapstick. No time for breakfast? Granola bar in the car) and which you just need to budget more time for.

        The other thing is to establish homes and routines for everything. If you always put your keys on the hook beside the door, you don’t have to spend 15 minutes looking for them in the morning. I have ADHD, so part of my coming home routine is putting stuff where I’ll need it tomorrow (hang up keys, put wallet from pocket to purse, etc), and part of my bedtime routine is checking all the stuff I need and checking my calendar and the weather to see if I need anything extra for the next day (coat, umbrella, whatever).

        The other thing is to simplify. Carry the same bag to work every day, and clip your work badge to it every night (or find a place in your car to stash your work badge every day when you get in it). Wear the same handful of shoes every day, and keep them next to the door. Think about things in batches: in my purse are my keys, phone and wallet; in my work bag is my lunch, laptop, work bag and folders. Then to get out the door all I have to think about is “did I check my purse and work bag? Yes. Do I have my purse and work bag? Ok, go” rather than “Do I have my phone-keys-wallet-lunch-laptop-folders-oh crap what else ….”

        My other 2 go-tos are: a post it pad and pen near the door, where I stick the weird “don’t forget to get X out of the fridge” notes on the door at eye level.

        Last, rather than make your goal “get to work by X:00” look at how long your commute normally takes, add a buffer for traffic (15 minutes?) and instead make the goal “leave the house by Y:00” or “pull out of the driveway by Y:00” as long as you don’t have morning errands to run. You can’t control what other stupid drivers do once you hit the road, and no matter how much your brain tries to convince you otherwise you really can’t make up much (if any) time by speeding – so move the goal posts to what you can control -and if you *are* leaving every day at Y:00 but still aren’t early enough most days, you need to pull that time back by 10, 15, 20 minutes.

        1. Kate in Scotland*

          Meg, I totally agree with the milestones thing. I cannot be trusted with a whole hour of time, but a set of milestones 10-15 minutes apart will get me out on time. Also I have worked really hard to utterly deny the existence of the 0820 train (which gets in just in time for work on a good day) and only believe in the 0805.

      3. Lily in NYC*

        Good point! My best friend was always at least an hour late for EVERYTHING because she drastically underestimated how long things take and also could not just force herself to stop multi-tasking (picking me up for an event would always entail 5 stops to run errands on the way, which always caused us to be late).

        The only thing that helped is that I stopped enabling her and got angry when she would cause me to be late. I started leaving after 20 minutes if she was late to meet me. I canceled on her if she was more than 20 minutes late to pick me up to go somewhere. I told her that it made me feel like she was prioritizing everything else over me and that I felt it was disrespectful to our friendship. She made a huge effort after that. She’s not perfect but she tries! And she also was recently diagnosed with adult ADD and taking medication has completely changed how scattered she was.

      4. Wendy Darling*

        omg! I just realized that I, too, hate changing tasks. Even if the task I’m doing is crappy and I don’t like it. What’s up with THAT?!

        1. dawbs*

          inertia is a powerful thing.
          Both shrinks and doctors have talked to me about ‘sleep inertia’ which, it sounds like, may be part of the OPs problem–but it’s also true about job inertia and ‘doing stuff’ inertia in general.

          I think people under-respect how big inertia is in our lives.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          See above. Try giving yourself permission to stop. Yes, I know this sounds silly.
          “Self, it is okay to stop now.” Try. It’s okay to need to do this exercise for a while, because you have probably been beating yourself up for a while.

          Many people have problems starting because they make a task into a grueling marathon. It’s good to think about how long the task does actually take. Many tasks do not take that long but due to fatigue/stress/health issues a given task can feel like hours. When we actually time it, sometimes it only takes 20 minutes or so. We just go by “feeling” and not by “reality”.

          Set designated break times and take the break. Sounds straightforward right? Notice how many times you answer yourself, “Okay, just wait five minutes” and a half hour later you still have not taken that break, gotten a drink of water or gone to the restroom. Give yourself permission to do these things in a timely manner.

          We can set something down when we KNOW we will come back to it. If we privately feel that we will not finish it, or we will forget, or whatever excuse, it becomes harder to stop the task.

      5. Jaydee*

        I have trouble with transitions and am late because I’m mad at myself. Truly until reading this link today I had no idea the latter was something that applied to other people too. It’s like I won’t let myself leave the table until I’ve finished my broccoli but I’m also not eating the broccoli. So then I’m late to stuff.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Put yourself where you will succeed. Don’t make broccoli any more if it is going to cause WWIII inside your head. Understand, I am banking off your broccoli example so I could be misreading what you are saying here. But life does not have to be this hard. Make sure you are not antagonizing your own self. There are plenty of healthy things to eat that are not broccoli.

          Think of it this way: Would you make a friend sit there and finish the broccoli? Be a friend to you and get some cauliflower…. maybe melt some cheese on it.

        2. Ellie H.*

          I have immense trouble with transitions. I’ve known this about myself for a long time and it has been true my entire life – it applies to EVERY context no matter how big or small. Leaving the house to go to work. Getting home after work. Starting graduate school. Returning from vacation. Getting back to my desk after a meeting. Finding and moving into a new apartment. Withdrawing from graduate school. The biggest one is getting out of my car. I don’t know why this is so hard but I can sit in my car for almost an hour fucking around on my phone or even reading a BOOK because something about changing activity or scenario is really difficult. I would do anything to change this about myself.

          In reply to Not So NewReader: it has something, but really not everything, to do with what the actual activity is, so changing the metaphorical “broccoli” doesn’t make a huge difference. A little bit, in that the less complicated whatever I’m trying to do next is makes the transition a little bit easier, but ultimately not very much.

      6. Tau*

        I can see that being useful… when I plan things, my brain likes to sneak in unchecked assumptions that various things take no time at all. Getting dressed is a common culprit, along with similar minor tasks. If I’m not doing well, it ups to assuming things like walking or cycling also take no time and I begin to make plans without realising that they rest on the hidden assumption that I can teleport.

        My main method of offense against this is that I don’t try to subdivide travel time at all. It takes me 35 minutes to get to work… and that 35 minutes is literally from getting up from the kitchen table and going to find my shoes to sitting down at my desk in the office and hitting the power button on the PC. I’ve deliberately avoided considering how long the individual bits and pieces of that take, because it opens the door to all sorts of nonsense involving “I know you think you need three minutes to put your coat on, walk downstairs and unlock your bicycle but all of those are tiny tasks so surely you can do them instantaneously, right?” Treating it as a single whole works pretty well to prevent that.

    3. OP*

      I really like this idea, since it takes a lot of pressure off of me. I think part of the problem may be that I get so anxious about being late that I place extra importance on things that might not be as important as they seem. I read somewhere that part of being chronically late is adding on little tasks as you go, thinking you have time for them or that they HAVE to get done, whether or not that’s true and I’m certainly guilty of that.

  8. Morning Glory*

    For the getting up part. I used to have the same problem – I could not make myself get out of bed on time. Now what I do is I set my alarm for 6am, get dressed and brush my teeth 6-6:10, then get back in bed until 6:30.

    It seems silly, but it is much easier to get up the first time, knowing that I am going to get to go back to bed for 20 minutes – and I don’t fall back asleep, so it’s not so bad getting up the final time at 6:30.

    Also, unless it’s absolutely vital to your workday, why are you turning around for things you forgot? If you know turning around is going to make you late, think about whether you really need that item.

    1. Pwyll*

      Yup, I know someone who does this. She gets up and showers, brushes her teeth, then goes back to sleep for another 20-30 minutes, then gets up and gets dressed. Not sure that’d work for me, but she swears by it.

      1. Morning Glory*

        Now I feel the need to specify I shower at night, so I’m not just skipping a shower every morning :)

    2. March*

      I love that idea about your alarms!

      I set three every morning, each with an increasingly more obnoxious ringtone: one for 6:00, one for 6:02, and one for 6:05. The one at 6 starts to get my brain awake, the one two minutes later is a “you need to be awake soon” warning, and the last is “okay, time to be awake”. I’ll check the news on my phone until ten after six and then I go get ready. The few minutes helps get me functional and gives me a few minutes to soak.

      I also used to keep my phone on the other side of my bedroom, so I would have to get up and turn it off. That worked great until muscle memory kicked in and i could stand up to snooze it and fall back in bed.

    3. Dot Warner*

      I second the advice about not turning around. If I left something behind at home, my philosophy is that unless it’s my keys, it’s not that important.

      1. OP*

        Usually, when I realize I’ve forgotten something it’s when I’ve gotten to my car in my driveway and I have to run back and look for it. If I’m already driving, unless it’s my work badge I won’t turn around for it. But things like my glasses, which I don’t usually wear, but I do need in order to drive legally, I absolutely have to go back for.

        1. Morning Glory*

          Those both seem like things you won’t need in your house in the evening, so why not just leave them in your car every night?

          1. OP*

            My work badge usually stays in the car. Sometimes my dad borrows my car and ‘helpfully’ moves it back inside along with anything else I left in there so I don’t realize until I’ve gotten in the car. As for my glasses, I generally just don’t think about taking them off until I’ve gotten inside and realized I’m still wearing them. so I can work on that at least.

            1. BadPlanning*

              Could you put your badge and glasses in your glove compartment (or other car storage area)? Perhaps that would prevent Helpful Dad.

            2. Rusty Shackelford*

              I apologize if this sounds like I think you’re an idiot, because I don’t think that at all, but sometimes we overlook the obvious… have you asked him to leave your badge in the car? There are things I keep in my car at all times, and when my husband or daughter drive it, it would never occur to them to move these into the house.

            3. E*

              My work badge always goes in the side pocket of my backpack, so if you have a bag or lunchbox you always take with you, keep it there. Or even a small bag that holds your keys and badge together, so you can’t have one without the other.

        2. Parenthetically*

          OP, are you familiar with Unfuck Your Habitat? It’s a cleaning/organization blog, but every night she posts an “Unfuck Tomorrow Morning” reminder that goes like this:
          Wash the dishes in your sink
          Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
          Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
          Make your lunch
          Put your keys somewhere obvious
          Wash your face and brush your teeth
          Charge your electronics
          Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
          Set your alarm
          Go to bed at a reasonable hour

          It’s not one-size-fits all, but it’s a helpful framework that you could fill out with “put glasses and work badge in purse on door handle” or similar. I’ve found it so helpful — In 20 or so minutes of effort after dinner, I can skip the “$#!+! I didn’t do/don’t have/forgot X!” feeling in the morning.

        3. Anonymustard*

          You know what, I think people with vision problems lose a lot of time losing things. Over the past three months I have set up my entry way so that when I come home there is only one place for my keys, one place for my headphones, one place for my bike helmet, etc. – I used to always lose stuff and leave my house late until I realized it was all about how I come home!

    4. orangecat*

      I do this! I get up at 6:15 and take a shower, then go back to bed until 7. Some mornings if I’m really tired, I go back to sleep, other mornings I lay in bed and read AAM and my other morning routine readings.

    5. SayWhat?*

      I do the same thing! It really does make a difference.

      Sometimes, I also set my alarm earlier than needed. For example, if I want to be up and do something at 5:30, I set my alarm for 5:00 or 5:10, so I can hit snooze (at 5 minute intervals) quite a few times.

  9. Dawn*

    Well, I think wanting to change is a huge start!

    Really, the biggest thing that stands out to me is that you’re sleeping through your alarm or hitting your snooze button a bunch. Stopping that, and fixing your sleep habits so that you’re getting enough sleep so that you CAN get out of bed in the morning, will go a long way towards helping you not be late! I like to sleep in a super dark, super cold bedroom so it can be hard to get out of the morning, BUT my trick is to have the A/C (or heat) turn up about an hour before I get out of bed so it’s not so cold, and I have a light that is also an alarm clock so I don’t wake up to a totally dark bedroom (absolutely essential to get me out of bed in the winter!)


    Step two it seems like you’re already doing: getting as much ready the night before so that it’s all good to go in the morning. Lay out your outfit, get your purse/bag ready, aim for premade breakfasts, check the weather the night before so you know if you need to wear a jacket or bring an umbrella, that kind of thing. Also if your city has predictable traffic check the traffic about halfway through your morning routine so that you can scurry out the door if there’s a wreck that’s going to make you a bit late.

    Step three, which might be a bit advanced until you get steps one and two down, is to give yourself some space to breathe in the mornings! If you’re timing everything down to the wire then if the cat gets sick or if there’s a wreck on your commute then you’re gonna be late. However, if you build yourself a cushion every morning- say, 20 minutes just to sit and sip your coffee and read a magazine or something- then if something unexpected comes up you can deal with it and still be on time. Sure, your coffee and magazine time will have to be scrapped, BUT you won’t be late.

    Also, do you *really* need to be Butt In Chair by a specific time every day? If you don’t (and have confirmed with your manager that you don’t), then learn to be OK with life’s little upsets and don’t beat yourself up about being late! Sometimes being late happens- flat tire, bad weather, spilled coffee on your pants on the way out the door… and everyone just has to learn to roll with that kinda stuff and not get flustered!


    1. caryatis*

      Seconding the suggestion to build a cushion into every schedule. We all have little unexpected things that come up. The people who manage to be on time despite the cat vomit or bad traffic or whatever are the people who gave themselves extra time just in case.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      Getting out of bed is so key, and sometimes so challenging. One thing I need to start doing is keeping my bathrobe within grabbing distance of my bed–my apartment tends to be a bit chilly (joys of basement living), and I do not want to get out bed and feel cold air. If I can get my robe on, I’m much more amenable to the whole “getting out of bed and being a productive human” thing.

    3. OP*

      I’m working on getting out of bed on time. Part of my problem is knowing that I can still technically be on time if I wait to get up until X:00 time which I saw someone else comment also. But whenever that time that I HAVE to get up hits, I’m still groggy and have to literally drag myself out of bed, usually even later than that time.

      1. OP*

        Also, forgot to address this: I work for local government and they are very big on the butt in chair at exact time, no earlier no later. I haven’t had my lateness addressed by my supervisor since my first two weeks when I was completely unused to traffic and being late by quite a bit way more often. they moved my schedule and that helped a bit, now it sticks to about the 5-7 minute mark which is the window our time system gives us. (that we aren’t supposed to be relying on and I cringe when I have to use it.)

      2. Parenthetically*

        Ugh, I’m AWFUL about this. I know that if push comes to shove I can get out the door in 20 minutes. I don’t LIKE it, and my rational brain wants me to have 40 minutes. But I will be damned if I can get my butt out of bed with 40 minutes before I have to leave. It’s slightly better now that my husband and I leave for work at the same time, because he’s stirring and hatching at the same time I am, which wakes me up more (his alarm goes at 6:05 and mine goes at 6:20 so we can kind of wake up between the two), but ugh. Solidarity!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, you need to change your sleeping situation somehow. White noise, something so that you are sleeping more rather than waking up all the time.

        Once you get a little more control over your quantity of sleep, put your alarm clock across the room so you have to get up and get it.

        I found that getting up at the same time every day really clinched it for me. On days off I can take naps. But getting up at the same time seven days a week changed my mornings. If you decide to try this you could get up at your normal workday time on your day off. Go have breakfast, brush your teeth, etc., then crawl back in the rack for a while. Even doing this much will help change your perspective a little.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Wanted to add. I just started using peppermint oil for neck/shoulder pain and headaches. Getting pain relief also helps me to sleep better. You can get peppermint oil at a health food store. You only need a drop and rub it on the areas that ache. I cannot believe how fast it knocks out a headache.

  10. Kiki*

    Spend time each evening planning your morning: lay out your clothes, feed/water the cat, make your lunch, gas up the car, pack your bag, pay the bills. I set an alarm on my phone to remind me to do all those things (takes about an hour) and then get to bed at the planned time. Those chores have become a getting-ready-to-sleep ritual for me, actually.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, that’s a big thing for me. I’m a natural early bird, feel great immediately when I wake up, and just naturally am early to everything so I don’t have any of the problems others mention here, but a big help for me to keep my tendencies and schedule is that I pack my stuff in the evening and lay out everything I’m going to wear and already think about what I’m going to eat for a short breakfast. (You can probably tell that it’s extremely stressful for me when the weather doesn’t turn out like I expected it to be. Finding clothes in the morning is hell.)

  11. Katie*

    I’ve found that having alarms with different rings help a lot. I used to struggle to get out of bed, no matter how much sleep I got. I removed my digital alarm clock (looking at it and making sleep-decisions on time) and now only use my iPhone. I have an alarm that is soft and gentle first, and a more aggressive techno beat about 7 minutes later (snooze is 8 minutes). If I do happen to hit snooze, there’s going to be another alarm in a minute, so it’s work. When I had an Android, there was an app that I unfortunately can’t remember the name of that made you do math problems to snooze.

    The most important alarm though is the “You Better Get Your @$$ in Gear” alarm. It’s set for about 15 minutes before I need to be out of the house, and if I’m on schedule, I’m wrapping up my breakfast around then.

    Long story short, multiple alarms are your friend :) Hope this helps!

    1. Sleeping or maybe dead*

      The Android app you are thinking of is Alarm Clock Xtreme.
      It really is great and has many other options.
      It is not my holy grail yet, though, because I can sleep through loud noise, bright lights and whatever you want to throw at me. When I was younger my mother would regularly break down in tears because she couldn’t get me out of bed on time. More often than not, I slept through that as well.

      1. justsomeone*

        Timely is also an Android app that you can set to make you solve math problems or puzzles to shut it off.

      2. Mona Lisa*

        Are you me? I have physically hurt people who have tried to wake me up. The worst was in college when I stabbed my friend’s leg with a pencil after he jokingly sat on me to wake me up. I am not to be messed with when I am sleeping.

    2. Sensual Shirt Sleeve*

      There is also an alarm clock that won’t shut off until you scan a barcode you’ve photographed. I used my toothpaste tube so I had to get up and walk to the bathroom — that was enough to get me upright and conscious and I would stay awake after that. If you’re more sneaky or determined to stay asleep, you could use a barcode from something in your car or kitchen to really force you up and out.

      Some apps make you solve maths puzzles or shake your phone to get you up, there’s a LOT of these.

      1. VintageLydia*

        My chronically late friend has and loves that app! She has different alarms for different times so at X time it’s the toothpaste, Y time it’s the shampoo bottle, Z time something in the kitchen, etc. She basically has her entire routine down with these alarms and them going off at different locations around her home and forces her to stop dawdling and get on with her morning.

  12. TotesMaGoats*

    So, there is a motto in my family. If you are early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. If you are late, you burn in the fires of hell/you might as well not go. In most cases it’s an annoying habit I’ve developed that has me finding coffee shops to visit as I’m painful early for things. Or we drive around so we aren’t too early for reservations. However, it has always served me well. I have to be early. People showing up late is one of my biggest pet peeves. So, it’s good that you recognize that you want to be early. There are always going to be things that cause you to be late. Traffic is an uncontrollable monster. I feel you on the cat vomit thing. You can try to anticipate most thing and you should but you have to be able to roll with the unexpected.

    All of that being said, I’m expected (by me and my role) to be in the office at 8am, give or take a few. I have an hour commute each way and a toddler to drop off at daycare. It’s hard. I want to sleep. I want to cuddle with my kid. Instead I tickle him awake and badger him into getting dressed and out the door. There is no option to hit snooze. You do what you have to do.

    1. Pack lunches and what not the day before.
    2. Lay out your clothes the night before (somewhere that cats can’t shed or throw up on. Been there.)
    3. Set your alarm for a loud ring and put it across the room from you. As in you have to get out of bed to turn it off.

    Then move. Do the radio to get traffic instead of the TV. Hang a check list by the door to review before rolling out. Get up even earlier than needed and leave then. Some of it is organization but a lot is mind over matter. I tend to take my showers at night so all I have to do is fix my hair (hot curlers for the win), clothes and make up. My kid has his clothes laid out for the whole week. I do hope this helps.

    1. anonderella*

      “If you are late, you burn in the fires of hell/you might as well not go.”

      I am so anti-authoritarian (seriously think I have oppositional-defiant disorder); there is *nothing*, no trip, no plans, no meal, that would make me rather sacrifice my time and right to be lazy and procrastinate to *rush* – I shudder to even think of the word. Were there further consequences for being late in your family beyond just ‘not going’? I would even have preferred to forego a family meal if rushed, and gotten up late at night to eat alone and read.

      I have to trick myself into wanting to get up and go – hence, work is the only thing I’ve ever been on time for in my life. When my boss recently started requiring me to be at work 5 minutes early, I thought I would die at first. I stash breakfast-y treats/etc at work, and designate the first few minutes of every day for reading/pretending to work unless I really have stuff to get done (I realize this model does not work for everyone’s job, but I’m lucky).

      I really am a weird one, though; I’m most productive when doing stuff at the wrong time. If I was allowed to work at home (data-entry type stuff) and f*ck off at work (bullsh*t projects I entertain myself with, or fiction-writing), I’d be so much more productive. This model always worked for me in school – did what I wanted in class and studied alone at night – I must not have responded much to the timeliness-value they were trying to instill at that age.

      Anyone work in fields where this lifestyle is ok?

      1. Lady Dedlock*

        No, but you’re describing my life. The work projects I’ve gotten the most satisfaction of are the ones I’ve done (at least in part) on my own time in evenings and weekends. Sometimes I’ll look at myself doing that, and I’ll say yeah, look at me, I’m so hardworking and committed! And then I get to work and just want to mess around on the internet.

        I wonder if it is some sort of holdover from school habits: I did pretty much all of my work at night, therefore my best work gets done at night, therefore if I want to do my best work, I should do it at night. I think something like that happens in the back of my brain.

      2. Emma*

        If you’re planning your time right, you’re not rushing, though. I tend to be on time or a bit early to things, and I only rush in actual emergencies.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      I actually talk to myself like I’m dealing with a toddler in the mornings: “Marillenbaum, I know you don’t want to get up–it’s not fun, and you’re so cozy and sleepy right now! But this is the thing we’re doing now, so let’s do the thing”. I feel slightly less grouchy and resentful then.

      1. orchidsandtea*

        As a fellow lady with inattentive ADD, I second this suggestion. It sounds so odd, but having someone (even myself) talking to me kindly makes it SO much easier to do the icky thing.

        Also, I can sweet-talk myself through the baby steps. It’s never “do laundry”. It’s “OK honey just sort the laundry. Great, pack the first load (remember not his scrubs, those get done last), carry it to the washer, start the load, set a timer for when to switch it & start the next load” repeat til done. My brain doesn’t work in chunks. I won’t even start, because it’s too much to tackle.

        Someday I’ll be one of those ultra-organized Pinterest People who also remembers to use a dry-erase marker on the washer lid to note which things shouldn’t be dried. Maybe I’ll even stop forgetting wet loads til they sour.

        1. Vagenda of Taco Trucks*

          This is the best idea ever! My wife and I are always, always late, and I think trying to overcome it with drill sergeant commands just makes us feel worse and do things slower. I think this kind self-talk would do wonders for my procrastination.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yes! We have to do the thing, so let’s do the thing. It won’t be as bad as you think. You can do it!

    3. Dzhymm*

      “If you are early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late.”

      Oh ghods, this was my high-school band director’s motto as well. It got so far under my skin that it gave me tardiness anxiety well into my 30s. It took me that long to realize that if I *am* “on time” or even “a few minutes late” the world won’t stop revolving… and if it does, we’ve got bigger things to worry about. So now my motto is “I’ll get there when I get there, and stressing about it isn’t going to get me there any faster”

      (I later realized that high-school band director was a bit of a narcissist, and if I was late then the world would indeed stop revolving… AROUND HIM!)

      Part of my anxiety was caused by the fact that my father *was* one of those chronically-late people, so if he was my ride to rehearsal I was very much between a rock and a hard place. At his funeral I turned to my sister and said “I do believe this is the first time he ever got to church on time”

  13. Kate, short for Bob*

    1. Sleep tracking app that wakes you when you’re in a lighter sleep makes it easier to wake up
    2. Coffee machine that switches itself on when you should be waking up – we’ve got one on a timer switch in our bedroom and it is HEAVEN
    3. Don’t stop laying out your stuff the night before just because something went wrong a couple of times – the more you anticipate, the easier it gets. I’m a night owl that has to get up early, so I do as much as I can the night before – when it’s relaxing pottering around – and then I can run on automatic in the morning when it’s all awful and too damn early

    It will get easier, honest

    1. Sadsack*

      Thanks for reminding me! A sleep tracking app helped me last winter when I was having trouble getting up. I got better at it over the summer and stopped using the app. I think I may start using it again because I am having trouble now that it is darker in the a.m.

      1. Sadsack*

        P.s. that app was gun because, for a while, I recorded the sounds in the room and then would listen to myself talking in my sleep the next day.

  14. Meg*

    This is something that I struggle with as well, but when I had a job that required me to be on time, I made it work and was very rarely late (traffic accidents and unusually bad weather happen). My biggest coping mechanism was doing as much at night as possible. Shower at night, pack your bag to go to work at night, program the coffee at night, lay out your clothes for the next day at night. Then in the morning, you do basic getting ready things that are the same every day, throw on your clothes, grab your coffee and your bag, and head out the door.

    1. LuvThePets*

      I have to second the shower at night thing. I have showered in the morning for my whole life… until this August when I started New Job. All of a sudden I had to be at work at a specific time, with a longer commute. Something had to give. I have started showering at night and picking out my outfit. I get my put my lunch together in the fridge if I am packing a lunch. Those changed have cut my time and stress getting ready both in half. Makes all the difference in the world.

  15. Sarah Thomas*

    It sounds like you’re only ever choosing to let one thing go; getting to work on time. And that’s the thing that stresses you the most.

    So let something else go. If you can’t find the shoes you want, grab others. If you forget your lunch at home, buy an apple. Clean up after the cat when you get home, etc.

    Trying to be perfect is a recipe for failure. Pick the top priority – being on time – and let other things lay fallow if you need to.

    1. Bette*

      Agreed. It’s about priorities, meaning sometimes you just gotta leave that cat sick on the floor and be ok with it.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        Yeah, that’s my husband’s MO. Leave the cat yack on the floor for me to take care of. I will conveniently overlook it when I don’t have the time to fix it in the morning.

        Him: I had to clean up cat yack when I got home today.
        Me: Oh really? I didn’t see any. (evil grin)

        1. Adlib*

          We frequently leave cat barf (hairballs) on the floor. A lot of times it’s dry by the time we get around to cleaning it up later in the day. Also, have some OxyClean around for the inevitable stains. Works wonders! (Said as a person who has to clean what looks like a connect-the-dots pattern at times.)

        2. Sleeping or maybe dead*

          Also, if you leave alone with your pet you really shouldn’t leave them with vomit or the like unnatended. My dog would surely either eat it up or smear it all over the house.

          1. Dorth Vader*

            Depends on your pet. My cat avoids his vomit (it’s been left for 8+ hours undisturbed because he barfed riiiiiiiight when I was walking out the door), but my last dog probably would have done something gross with it. I say throw a paper towel over it and deal when you get home.

          2. mskyle*

            But ultimately you do have to decide when it’s worth it to clean up the barf. If the cat barfed five minutes after you left the house, it would be alone with the barf all day and you would live. If the cat barfed as you were on your way out the door to your best friend’s wedding/super important job interview/etc. you would probably leave it alone with the barf and it’s gross but nothing too terrible would happen.

            Maybe being on time for work is worth ignoring the cat barf, maybe not – depends on the cat, the barf, the carpet, and the work.

            Oh also, never understimate the power of half-assing – you can do whatever is minimally required to keep the cat from getting into the barf without actually fully cleaning up.

      1. yasmara*

        Yes, this! My always-late friend had a firm belief that everything took “15 minutes.” Despite the fact that clearly driving across town in rush hour did not take 15 minutes. The thing is, she is a meticulous house keeper, super organized, and mostly Type-A about EVERYTHING…except being late.

        So, *time yo self*. How long does it really take to walk to the train? Not sprint to the train, walk. With red lights & crosswalks. Time your train ride. Time your breakfast. Time everything. Then add that all up and give yourself some buffer.

        Pack everything the night before. I always, always have my work clothes laid out the night before because picking out something to wear in the morning when it’s dark & my brain is foggy is a recipe for a complete disaster time suck. And a bad outfit. I also check the weather, find my umbrella, etc. the night before. I make my kids do this to! After they finish their homework, they pack their backpacks for the next day.

        I’m also guessing that even if you’re ready on time in the morning, you might look at the clock and realize you are 5 minutes ahead of schedule. So, you think you are “early” and start doing something that takes 15 or 20 minutes. Stop doing that! If you are ahead of schedule, it’s OK to leave! That’s how on-time people do it. Then, if they have time on the other end *after arriving at work* they might do something nice like stop for fancy coffee. And still be early/on time.

        1. Jake*

          That is an insightful comment there at the end. That is 100% true. People that aren’t late don’t look at the last possible moment of not being late as the goal. They look at never arriving after that moment as the goal.

          Those are two radically different ways of thinking.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Right. If someone has had a boss who was a clock watcher they become keenly aware of the importance of letting things go. Car on fire? Ignore it because that is nothing compared to the angry boss if I am late.

    2. LaurenB*

      Great point! I have to give myself a hard deadline. At 7:35, I have two minutes to get into my car. If at that point, I haven’t dried my hair, I will be uncomfortable and look sloppy. If I haven’t packed my lunch, I’ll have to waste money buying one. If I didn’t pack my gym clothes, no lunchtime workout. No matter what, I grab my keys and put on my shoes and head out the door.

      Being at work on time brings an absence of stress, but there’s very little reward. If I can let it go and do other things that have more of a built-in reward (e.g. eating breakfast or checking Facebook), I will. While I can’t bring myself to get out of bed with the promise of not being late to work, sometimes thinking of getting to spend more time over breakfast will do it for me.

  16. Aunt Vixen*

    I ended up changing my scheduled hours when I was in that kind of a place. I was chronically late when I was meant to be at work 9-5:30, but absolutely fine when I formalized the expectation that I would be there 10-6:30. Crucially, when I changed my work schedule I did not change anything else like my bedtime or the time my alarm was set.

    1. Annie Moose*

      This was my issue at my old job. I didn’t actually have to be in the office at 8 AM, but I felt like I was late if I got there five minutes after 8–which was a lot of the time! What helped me was readjusting my expectations. I found that if I planned to be at work at 8:30 instead of 8, rather than ending up going to work at 8:30 because I slept in again, I was so much more OK with getting there “late”. It also helped at the end of the day when I had to stay to 5:30 instead of 5, because again, I’d already planned on it.

      (and this “planning” wasn’t necessarily done very far in advance… it still counts as planning if you only decide it when the alarm goes off! :))

      Of course, not everyone has a job where your start time is up to you, but if OP is in a situation like this (and it sounds like she might be?), just changing the way you think about it can be a massive stress reliever.

    2. Anonymous Coward*

      Yes, the first thing I did when I was promoted to an exempt position was to make my “official” start time half an hour later. I left the house around the same time and got into the office around the same time, but my commute was so much less stressful and I often had time to get a cup of tea or a snack at work before I jumped into things.

    3. OP*

      I work for local government and they adjusted my schedule to slightly later during my first few weeks when I was having significant trouble adjusting to traffic. (from 8:30 in the morning to 9:15) Oddly enough, I have an easier time getting to work on time on the off day when I have to be there at the early time. Probably because I stress so much about how much extra traffic there is that I just have my fiance wake me up before he leaves for work. That way I have the time required. But with my later schedule, if I do that I have a much harder time getting up. I’ve changed my alarm a few times to see if that helped but my brain tends to go “Oh I don’t really have to be up until X….” and I snooze inevitably.

      1. Morning Glory*

        You say above that your family gets up around 6:30 which is ‘hours’ before you need to get up. Depending on your commute time, 6:30 is not such an unreasonable time for you to wake up, if you want to make sure you are in the office by 9:15. If you are waking up hours after that (does this mean 8:00? 8:30?) then you are not leaving nearly enough time for yourself.

        I know you have a rough schedule with your part time job and insomnia, and that really sucks :( but you may be able to fall asleep easier at night by waking up earlier in the morning, and you will be able to get to work on time. Seeing as you can’t get back to sleep after your family wakes you up in the morning anyway, it may be worth a try.

        1. Morning Glory*

          I meant full time job, part time job, and insomnia!

          I accidentally sounded a bit snarky there.

        2. OP*

          Sorry that was a bit of an exaggeration on my part because their wake up times vary within a range. My stepmother often gets up at 3:30am but usually they’re both up by 6:30. I’m trying to shift to being more comfortable getting up at 6:30, but it’s a rough shift.

  17. Collie*

    As someone who is always 30 minutes early to work (because I like to take that half hour to read/decompress before everyone else comes in; I have to be in by 8:00, my commute takes about 30 mins if the Metro isn’t on fire that day, I get up between 6:45 and 6:50 and am out the door by 7:00, and I can’t function on less than 8 hours of sleep) and was/is not a morning person, here’s what I did:

    – Have a wardrobe of primarily neutral colors so I can pretty much throw on whatever in the morning and be fine (and I don’t wear makeup, but I realize some people aren’t comfortable with that, so I can’t personally offer advice there).
    – Make my lunch before I went to bed so I didn’t have to worry about it in the AM. Make sure everything I need is by the door (purse, keys, badge, etc. except lunch, which is in the fridge).
    – Got adamant about being in bed by 10:00, even if I wasn’t going to sleep yet.
    – Set alarm for 6:30 knowing that I’ll hit snooze at least once, probably twice.
    – When I first started, I said with obnoxious, fake cheerfulness to my SO and cat, “Good morning!” I hated this. But eventually it felt natural to be so cheery and made getting up easier. I no longer do this.
    – Get out the door. I don’t give myself time to think about how tired I am/how cozy my bed is. If it’s 6:50, I’m up and getting ready or else I have to deal with the perils of being late.

    Basically, it’s a mental game of convincing yourself if you don’t leave by such-and-such a time, you’ll be late (even if you know you’ll actually be early even if you left ten minutes after such-and-such a time). It takes time to trick yourself into this, but it’s worked really well for me. I’ve been doing this for two years and I was late for the first time the other day because I did not reset my alarm correctly the night before. I left an hour later than I usually do and was only fifteen minutes late. Any other time I’ve been late has been because of a Metro meltdown, which is pretty much par for the course around here.

    tldr; Work your way into tricking yourself that you’ll be late if you don’t leave far earlier than you actually have to. It sounds ridiculous but after enough time, it works.

    1. Collie*

      Oh, and I also have a cat who throws up (I mean, not regularly, but it happens). Mostly, I’ve learned to leave it. It’ll be there when I get back, waiting for me to clean it up, no doubt. Unless it’s going to stain your pristine white couch, let it be.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I didn’t want to sound gross and suggest this, but I do the same thing! I don’t find the midnight hairball till the morning and it’s already been there for hours. It’s done it’s damage and can wait till I get home from work.

    2. Annie Moose*

      To make it even easier to get my keys, badge, purse, etc., I’ve made a habit of always putting them in the same place when I get home. Then you don’t even have to worry about it the night before–everything will already be in the right place!

      An addendum to this (given my chronic forgetfulness) is having a mental (or physical!) checklist before you leave the house. I actually have a couple of them, depending on what I’m doing! My “basic” checklist is purse, keys, and phone, but for work I add my laptop bag and lunch. Train yourself that you MUST go through the checklist before going out the door–and physically touch each item, don’t just make assumptions–and it helps a lot. (especially with keys. You know what happens when I don’t physically hold my keys in my hand? I LOCK THEM INSIDE. Every time. It’s a disease.)

    3. insert name here*

      I would love more details on how you get out the door in 10-15 minutes!! I thought I was pretty good with 30 minutes, but I’d love to condense that into 15-20. I shower quickly in the morning, which is some of it, but not all of it. No make-up, hair in wet bun, clothes/bag/lunch set the night before.

      1. Collie*

        I shower at night. My mornings typically look like this:

        6:30 am — Alarm goes off first time; snooze
        6:39 am — Alarm goes off again; snooze
        6:45 am — I’m awake naturally
        6:47 am — I’m out of bed
        6:50 am — I’m out of the bathroom
        6:53 am — I’ve found something clean and reasonably professional to wear
        6:54 am — I’ve decided to throw my hair up in a pony tail
        6:55 am — Fed the cat (scooped dry food into her bowl)
        6:57 am — Grabbed my lunch from the fridge/took vitamins
        6:59 am — Final pat-down (phone, wallet, keys, badge)
        7:00 am — I’m walking out the door

        More or less, anyway. Sometimes it’s more like 7:03, 7:05. But anything more than that is unusual for me. I have a bus to catch, so if I miss it, it means waiting in the cold/dark in a not-the-safest kind of neighborhood until the next one comes around. But I’m also just super low-maintenance and obsessed with efficiency.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yep, I shower at night too — no way could I get out the door in 20 minutes or less if I showered in the morning.

        Mine goes like this:

        6:05 Husband’s alarm
        6:20 My alarm, snooze
        6:30 My alarm, snooze
        6:40 My alarm, snooze
        6:50 My alarm, get up, bathroom, drink of water, check phone
        6:55 Put on clothes I picked out Sunday night, wash face, brush hair, throw on powder and mascara
        7:02 Grab breakfast/lunch bag from fridge (I eat breakfast at work), turn on kettle, and take all bags to front door
        7:04 Brush teeth, pour boiled water into travel mug I set up last night for tea
        7:07 Finish toiletries (perfume, deodorant) and accessories, put shoes on
        7:09 Grab travel mug and coat
        7:10 Walk out the door

  18. Murphy*

    Set up as many things as you can the night before. (I know you said you try this, but it helps me a ton.) I put out my clothes, set things I need to bring with me near the door, pack lunch, set out breakfast dishes, etc.

    I have 2 alarms in the morning. One to wake me up and one to get me out of bed if I’m dawdling. I second the suggestion above about an additional alarm a few minutes before you’d like to be leaving the house.

    1. limenotapple*

      The night before thing is so hard, but it’s what helped me the most too. I have a nighttime checklist of things to do before I go to bed, because I am foggy and stupid until I’ve been up for at least an hour. It’s simple things, like outfit including shoes, underwear, jewelry, mittens, etc, locate keys, have lunch together in a bag, make sure purse isn’t spilled out, etc. I really groan at the thought of doing it when I just want to go to bed, but it helps soooo much to have it all the night before. I am not a list person but this has saved me.

      I also try not to beat myself up on bad mornings. That adds stress, which makes it hard to sleep, which makes it hard to get up, which gets me off my schedule.

      And I love the advice about prioritizing. What I’ve learned is that no one will really notice if my shoes are brown and they should be black. It just doesn’t matter that much. I’ll wear shoes again tomorrow, so it will be ok. I would also have a priority in your head of what matters most, so you can just leave. For example, I would be lost without my phone during the day, but if I don’t have my wedding ring, life will go on. Good luck! I really think you can do this.

      1. Kate, short for Bob*

        The whole doing things the night before got easier for me when I realised I was doing future-me a huge favour. Sounds obvious, but once it clicked that I was really treating myself – to fresh coffee, a clear draining board, an ironed blouse etc – it stopped being a chore. Thank you past-me for your care and consideration :D

  19. voluptuousfire*

    I would set my beside clock for 15 minutes later than I needed to get up (for example, my alrm would go off for 6:45 am when in reality it was 6:30) and that helped me. Generally I’m on time anyway, but I hate, hate, hate getting up early. I “gave” myself the luxury of getting up later than I should but in reality I was up on time. If that makes sense?

  20. Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude*

    Oh! Oh! This is a comment about me that might not relate to your situation at all:

    Once upon a time Alice and I lived with a poltergeist. Or at least, I did–the ghost didn’t seem to bother her, but it was always, constantly moving my stuff around. I’d get my keys and put them next to my bag, then I’d grab my phone to put in my bag–and the keys were gone. I would lose 20 minutes to this kind of thing every time I left the house: someone was clearly moving my stuff, or else I was just a total featherbrain, which didn’t correlate with my ability to do brainy things, like become a leading member of the Parisian avant-garde.

    …or so it seemed!…

    Anyway, at the age of 30 (which of course is WAY too long for a poltergeist to stick around; they’re only supposed to haunt teenagers) I went to a doctor for something else and complained about the ghost (well, I knew it wasn’t a ghost) as well as a collection of related things, like my ability to follow a conversation *even when I’m talking to myself.*

    The upshot is, I started taking medication for ADHD, and now I lose my keys once a month for a few minutes, instead of six times a day. This May Not Be You. But it was totally me.

    Also, even if it Is Not You, having places where I always put things helped a little even before the medication. The keys Always Go Here, where Here is a spot immediately visible when I walk in the door, for example. I know that losing stuff isn’t the only issue you mention, but clearly it triggered a thing in me!

    Good luck!

    1. Dangerfield*

      Yes. I was going to suggest that prescription amphetamines are the only thing that helped me with this problem!

    2. Eddie Turr*

      Yep, I know we can’t armchair diagnose here, but whenever people are like “What’s your secret?” I have to tell them “prescription stimulants.”

      But I do have several other coping techniques. I need medication in order to fully use them, but someone who doesn’t have ADHD would probably have an easier time instituting them without pharmaceutical help.

      1. Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude*

        Ha, yup! “How do you work from home and stay focused?” Drugs! But really, yeah, it’s “systems,” and “drugs that make me capable of systems.”

    3. Mike C.*

      I’m a member of the club as well, but it should be noted that this is only one of several different symptoms. On the other hand, if the OP is adult (check), female or the inattentive type is what’s going on, it’s under-diagnosed.

      If it’s just being on time look elsewhere, but if there’s other stuff going on then it might be worth it to speak to a doctor.

      1. OP*

        I am an adult (albeit a baby adult in my early 20s) and female. I saw a therapist for a while in my younger years, who theorized I may have ADD but never went further than that and my mom was of the opinion that even if I did have it it was the sort of thing she survived without medication and so could I. I’ve been throwing around the idea of going back to therapy for anxiety, but generally speaking , I appear to have myself together and I have a hard time talking about the fact that I really don’t so I’m not sure that it would actually result in anything helpful happening. If I mention it to anyone (Family, etc.) I hear something like ‘oh, everyone has that nowadays. you’re fine.’

        1. Emma*

          GO. Seriously. I was like that with my sleep disorder – oh, everyone’s tired, oh, it’s not a big deal, oh, I’m coping. But I wasn’t really coping, or at least not very well, and I knew it. I felt like an idiot going to my doctor and complaining, but it was worth it in the end.

        2. super anon*

          People with ADHD/ADD often report having anxiety, so that could be another sign indicating it. One of my friends suffered from horrible anxiety for as long as she could remember. When she was finally diagnosed with ADHD and started taking medication for it, her anxiety decreased significantly. So – don’t discount it!

          (note: I’m in Canada so YMMV if you’re in the States)

          If this avenue is something you want to explore, you can get tested for it. If you have benefits, see if there is a registered psychologist in your area who specializes in adult ADHD. They can do the in-depth testing to see if you have it, and then go on from there. Psychologist don’t prescribe medication, so you’ll have to work with your family doctor on that front.

          The other alternative is to get on a waiting list (which in my area can be 6 months or more) for a Psychiatrist. The benefit there being that a Psychiatrist can prescribe you medication for ADHD/ADD and work with you on your treatment plan, rather than having to go through your GP.

          The other benefit to getting a formal diagnoses is that ADHD/ADD can be considered a learning disability. If you decide to go back to school you can get bursaries through student loans, and likely through your school. You can also register with your school’s disability office to be eligible to receive extra funding from your school, or accommodations for writing exams, etc.

          One last thing – don’t let other’s opinions stop you from getting the help you need. Yes, you may be able to survive without medication if you do have ADHD/ADD, but if your quality of life can be improved by getting a definitive diagnoses and treatment plan (be it with meds or without), you should go for it. Someone with a cut can survive without a bandaid, but no one would argue that the cut would heal better with one. Mental health and wellness is the same thing. Get that bandaid if you think you need one, OP.

        3. E*

          Just from my own experience and my spouse’s, a therapist can be very helpful in advising you on coping mechanisms for anxiety or most anything. Even if family tells you that “it’s normal” but you’re struggling to feel like you have it all together. Having someone who isn’t involved in your work or home life that will listen to you talk about your struggle can help immensely. There’s tons of ways therapy helped me, and none included medication for my anxiety.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          Be sure to talk about your sleep patterns. Lack of sleep will feed anxiety which will feel sleeplessness which will feed …. it’s a circle.

    4. AK*

      I have ADHD and this has always been a problem for me, even medicated! (I may have to switch meds…)
      ADHD can cause issues with transitions (like the transition from home to work – I have issues on both ends, which means I often leave work late and come up with my best work ideas while on my commute home…) and it also can cause you to assume a task will take less time than it actually does. So you think your commute will only be a half hour when really you should be allowing 45 minutes. I feel like I’ve tried just about everything to combat my ADHD brain with no luck, but I’m hoping someone here may just have a magic solution… I’ll try anything! I’m glad the LW asked this question!

    5. Formica Dinette*

      You bring up some great points. Even if This Isn’t The OP, techniques that help people with ADHD may help OP.

      1. SystemsLady*

        Yup, the coping mechanisms definitely helped me before I knew I had ADHD (and they’ll help *even more* in somebody who doesn’t have it).

      2. Anxa*

        Yeah, I’m poor and I’m not a perfect ADHD case (I have taken those surveys and I can’t remember it affecting me much until middle school) so no diagnosis here (plus I have anxiety and every doctor attributes everything to my anxiety now, and maybe for good reason).

        But ADHD targeted sites have helped me more in the past 2 years than all the efforts I had made previously.

    6. Meg Murry*

      Yup! The other things that make a difference to me to survive ADHD:

      -I only own things that go with black or gray as a neutral, and I buy socks in bulk so they all match – no time wasted discovering that I’m wearing brown pants but can’t find my brown shoes or only one tan sock.
      -I keep all my most crucial items physically on my person. I only buy pants with pockets, and one pocket has my phone, the other has my wallet, and my keys (only my house key, car key and single work key) are clipped to my belt loop with a carabiner.
      -I keep my meds in my purse, and use an app called Dosecast to help me keep track of whether I’ve taken it today or not. Because keeping it at home means I forget, and keeping extras at work means I go in circles of “I can’t remember if I took it today or not, so do I risk having no meds, or do I risk having a double dose?” Plus, as a controlled substance, I don’t have enough to spare if I leave extras in my desk and then need pills #29 and 30 on the weekend.

    7. Marillenbaum*

      Ooh, I identify with this. I struggle with my executive function, and it ends up that unless I have a Very Definite Plan of what I’m doing, I tend to sort of putter, trying to do useful stuff and ultimately failing because I don’t have the firmest grasp on which steps come next. I now make very detailed lists of even fairly basic stuff, and occasionally narrate it while I do it: “now we’re going to check the dryer lint catcher and throw the lint away, and then we’re going to put the filter back so it doesn’t end up under the sink…”

    8. SystemsLady*

      This was also the biggest part of my problem, for what it’s worth.

      I still have to make sure I take my medication on time and get some help with that, but treating ADHD even seems to have improved my sleep problems (I take a formulation that lasts, at least to an extent, 15-17 hours on me and actually helps me sleep properly).

      1. halpful*

        me too! I had other sleep problems I solved before I suspected adhd, but I’d never been much good at voluntarily falling asleep, or having that sleep be at night. I could never fall asleep early, so if I wanted to change my sleep schedule I had to do it by getting sleep-deprived enough that I could barely stay awake.

        Then I tried dexedrine, and despite the insomnia side-effects, I got *better* at sleeping! Trying to sleep actually had a chance of working, and I absolutely *had* to be up the same time every morning to take my pills, so somehow I got into a consistent, regular sleep schedule.

        …it’s not as good as it used to be, though – mainly because I’ve not been taking bedtime (also no-bright-screens time) as seriously. aaand it’s an hour later than I thought it was, and like 3 hours past my bedtime, oops, time to go

  21. Pinyata*

    So, I used to have a big lateness problem. Big enough that I got fired from a job because of it. Mine was rooted in psychological self-sabotage, and this weird feeling that it was “boring” to be on time for things (I know this makes no sense, but somehow I’d gotten this idea into my brain). Once I pinpointed the “boring” thing, I was able to get over myself and now I am almost always early for things, or on time. But that’s me. I’m definitely not saying that your issue is psychological, but I just wanted to put it out there.

    I do still have a really hard time getting up, even when I get a lot of sleep (I generally get 8-9 hours and I’m still dead tired in the morning!). What helps me in the morning is taking the commuter train. They run just infrequently enough that I know I have to be on the 8:05, otherwise I’m screwed. If I took the L (I’m in Chicago), or drove, it’s way too easy to think “Oh I can get the next train” or “Oh I still have a few minutes” and then slowly every day I’m later and later. I don’t know if you have the option to do this or if it’s feasible at all. Sometimes I do think taking the commuter train is the only thing that’s allowed me to continue getting to work on time.

    With that said, I don’t think 5 minutes late is that big of a deal though, and you might be beating yourself up a little more than you need to. I know the sinking feeling of being later than that, and the frustration involved. I wonder if you could ask your boss for feedback? I know it might feel like trying to get permission for being late, which feels weird, but if your boss said, “I seriously do not care about 5 minutes” it might ease your mind a little.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I live in the Chicago suburbs (but I drive to work) and taking the Metra would definitely be a motivator to always be on time. But you must not take one of the lines that has regular delays! :)

      I also agree that 5 minutes late doesn’t sound like a big deal. I work in an office where we can essentially set our own hours, so some people work 6:30 to 3 and some people work 10-6 and it all works out. I am often 5-10 minutes “late” for my 7:30 start because of traffic or some nonsense, but nobody actually cares.

    2. Sophie*

      I also realised I self sabotage in a morning…. but only when I need to shower.

      I hate washing my hair (at anytime of the day, but especially so in the morning) so what I do is stay in bed for so long that I’m going to definitely be late for work and of *course* I just don’t have ANY time to have a shower now because i’m SO LATE.

  22. Jenny*

    Before having kids I was always late. Always. I never got out of bed on time because I never went to bed on time. I never had any lunch packed or anything. I would spend so long trying to figure out what to wear and iron it and on and on on and on. You’d think having kids would make me more likely to be late but instead I’ve become mega organized and disciplined because I have to be. It’s not just me. If I’m late, my son is late and he gets in trouble for being late at school and I can’t do that to him.

    These are just a few of the things that I do:
    -Lots of weekend prep. I wash all of my clothes on Saturday and fold them and put them away on Sunday. I make a week’s worth of breakfasts and lunches on Sunday afternoons (salads or noodles for lunch – oatmeal for breakfast) and pack it all in the fridge.
    -I take a look at the week’s weather on Sunday evenings and mentally plan out what I might wear every day of the week. I change my mind the night before but I always get my clothes together the night before work. I hang everything on a hanger in the bathroom – dress, underwear, sweater, bra. It’s all there. I do the same for my kids – their clothes for the next day are stacked on the dresser.
    -I pack my bag the night before as well and have it all ready by the door.
    -I go to bed at 10 p.m. almost every night. I read for about 20 minutes and go to sleep. Staying up late used to mean I’d sleep late so I give myself enough time to get my rest. I used to keep my alarm on the other side of the room so I’d have to physically get out of bed to turn it off. Now kids wake up soon after so the alarm is rarely needed.
    -After getting dressed and throwing my lunch items into my bag, I’m all set to go. I try to make sure I refill my car with gas in the evenings after work rather than realizing I need to do it in the morning.

    It may seem a little too organized and regimented but it’s kept me on time. I haven’t been late to work in a very long time.

    1. Sibley*

      I appreciate that you consider the effect of your lateness on your kid(s). I knew kids that were always in trouble at school growing up because they were late, and it was 95% the parent’s fault. So not fair to the kid.

      1. Jenny*

        Yes, especially for the very little kids it is the parent’s fault. Once they get older and have to go to school on their own (high school) they can take responsibility. But my 3rd grader relies on me to get him to school, if we’re running a little bit later (but still on time) he gets anxious.

    2. yasmara*

      Oh yeah, the ONE time we missed a soccer practice (because I had the time wrong, not from being late), I heard about it for TWO YEARS from my kid. Both my kids hate to be late and are often in the car & ready to go while I’m still collecting water bottles or starting the dishwasher. Luckily, I believe in The Buffer, so we are rarely late for anything under my control.

    3. Friday*

      I just remembered the one time that my dad was lazy in the AM and I ended up in detention because of it – he felt so bad that he did a better job of hustling the whole rest of my high school days. Still had a tendency to lean toward the procrastination, which I’ve inherited and now passed on to my own kid, but I never got detention again.

  23. J.B.*

    I am rarely “on time” for work but it doesn’t matter. Some of us just putter around the house (and sometimes enjoy the silence!) I am typically obsessively on time for appointments and personal things. What I do is backtrack from the time of the appointment to when I need to leave, with a few minutes padding. I am usually late for the official “leaving” time but make it to the appointment on time or a few minutes early. This is because I know being late will inconvenience someone else. I can never maintain the same motivation for work.

    1. Dankar*

      I think this is my problem, too. I make every appointment or meeting in the afternoon, but it’s so hard to step out of my quiet, peaceful apartment in the mornings. It’s like my last breath before I dive into the business of the day.

  24. Loblaw*

    I’ve started to reframe my commute by adding time for all the extra things (running back for keys, unexpected train delay) to my commute time. I.e., retraining myself to think it takes me an hour to get to work instead of 35m (when the 35m commute would only happen on an absolutely perfect day). That way I leave for work by a certain time (I aim to leave at the same time everyday) and with enough buffer to occasionally get in early. With appointments, etc. I’ve also tried to reframe the start time–if my appointment is officially at 3, I time my commute to arrive at 2:45 instead. (I am still working on the same issue so you are not alone.)

    1. Sarah*

      This was my realization, too! I’m pretty good with the advance weekly prep / lifehacking, but I realized my hugest factor in being late was psychological (in addition to just not being a morning person / ever wanting to get out of bed / not going to bed on time). Basically, my brain latched onto the ONE time I made it to work in 20 min instead of 30 as *standard* (when it’s definitely not)… and because I’m someone who shoots to be *on time* instead of early, I always end up 10 min late as a result.

      Along those psychological lines, I also found it helpful to be realer with myself about how I’m feeling about my job lately. If youre someone who (like me) tends to be early/on time to meet friends for enjoyable plans — and the lateness only applies to work days — then maybe the main difference is I dont WANT to be there. Just admitting that to myself helped me to get over it… (and previously, help me come to the conclusion that maybe it was time to start applying for new jobs if I really was feeling that resentful about having to get up and GO there each day).

      Hope that helps!

      1. orangecat*

        Magical thinking is pretty common in the chronically late. Oh, that one day, when I hit all the green lights and there was no traffic, I made it to work in 27 minutes. It will now always take 27 minutes.

        I’m the exact opposite. That one time when there were horrible subway delays and a sick passenger and I had to take all the stairs because the escalators broke, it took me 2 hours to get to work. It will now always take 2 hours.

  25. Robin B*

    I hate to be late too. I get up a half hour earlier than I actually need, get coffee and go back to bed with it to watch the news. After that I am much more prepared to get out the door on time. (It’s almost like I bribe myself with coffee and a little tv….)

  26. spaceygrl*

    I hate to be early because it feels like I’m waiting, but that means that sometimes I am a little late (which just makes others wait). So, I’ve tried to get used to the idea of being early and think about all the things I can get done while I am waiting (reading email on my phone, make a quick call to someone, write in my 5 minute journal, etc.). Maybe you need to start looking forward to getting somewhere early to trick yourself to just be on time?

  27. Liz L*

    I used to have a lateness problem and would blame it on everything from poor sleep to commuting delays and etc. The real issue for me was that I hated my job and was reluctant to hit the road and face the day. But when I ended up at a place where I wanted to prove that I had what it took to progress, I woke up as early as possible while still being functional and gave myself 30 extra minutes commuting so that I would always be at my desk on time, fully caffeinated, and ready to roll with the punches. Then it became a habit and my body adjusted to the new early rising schedule. Sometimes it meant going to bed earlier than I would have liked, but it was always well worth it.

    I think often people try to get to a destination as close to the minute as possible when being a little early doesn’t hurt. Because look at the alternative – being late does hurt, but we often talk ourselves into accepting that that’s okay. (Which it is with some people but doesn’t reflect well on us if it becomes an established pattern, be it work or socially.) That’s my two cents for the day.

    1. Liz L*

      Wait, three cents. I think another thing that happens is we underestimate the time that we think it will take to do that one little task which ends up causing a massive delay. A site called WAIT BUT WHY has an illuminating post called “Putting Time In Perspective” that explains this really well!

    2. KR*

      Honestly this is kind of what I go through. I just am so sick of both of my jobs and burnt out that I’m always running later than I want to because I just …don’t want to be there. I want to stay home with my pets and listen to music and sleep and hang out by myself. Also, anxiety causes lateness because I stall and procrastinate because I’m scared to break the inertia of sitting in my room where it’s safe and soft and warm and sunny.

  28. Pari*

    Become an early bird. As in a really early bird. Plan to wake up early enough to do something before you get ready for work like work out or chores.

    1. Temperance*

      As a night owl, I have to say that this is easier said than done. I get up earlier, but I’m definitely not a person who is getting up at 5 AM to work out or clean my house. For most of us, planning on having an extra 15 minutes in the AM is difficult enough.

    2. Meg Murry*

      Nope, this would never work for me – because I would let myself go back to sleep or putter around for quite a while before doing whatever it is.

      Plus doing a physical thing that requires even a tiny bit of thinking (even so much as “unload the dishwasher – coffee mugs go where?”) seriously takes me 3X as long in the morning as it does at night.

      For me, I need the opposite – my mornings have to be composed of *nothing* except things that *must* be done that morning – getting dressed, eating, brushing teeth, and then if I have time, things that are 100% optional (reading here, etc). I can sometimes make myself do a workout DVD if I have every single thing ready the night before (down to the DVD in the player, a water bottle in the fridge and sleeping in my workout clothes). Attempting to do any kind of task/chore is asking me to assume the “magical thinking” that it will only take as long as the fastest I’ve ever done it, while I’m moving at 1/4th speed and now “just throwing in a load of laundry” took 30 minutes instead of the 10 I budgeted for.

    3. CheeryO*

      This is so, so hard, but it’s definitely worth a try. I’m lucky enough to have plenty of time to work out in the early evening, but I experimented with morning workouts for awhile. Gym (a mile away) by 6:00, home by 7:00 to get ready, compared to my usual snoozing until 7:10 or 7:15. Add to that the fact that I was wide awake by the time I got home, so getting ready didn’t take as long, and I was 5-10 minutes early for work every time, feeling 100% ready to go. It was a magical time, but that 5:30 alarm is not too fun.

  29. Jesmlet*

    I go to sleep with enough time to get at least 7 hours of sleep and then set 3 different alarms. I need to be out of bed by 6:45 at the latest so I do one alarm at 6:30, one at 6:40 and finally one at 6:45. It eases me into the awake state of mind. I don’t know if this is actually a thing, but don’t eat too late. Also, put away all electronics because the backlight keeps you up. Quality of sleep goes a long way.

  30. Working Mom*

    In general, you need to work on planning ahead. There will always be thinks like unexpected traffic jams or pets getting sick or things out of our control, but learning to plan ahead better will help you be prepared for those things and allow time for the unexpected.

    First – Do as much to prep for the next morning that you can do the night before. Get the coffee maker ready, pack your lunch, lay out your clothes for the next day, whatever you’ll need in the morning, have it ready to go.

    Next – For the alarm, I highly recommend placing your alarm on the opposite side of your room so you have to get up and walk to turn it off. I cannot have my alarm next to my bed, I will simply roll over and change the alarm for another 30 minutes of sleep. I have to get up and walk to my alarm to turn it off, so I won’t go back to bed. Because by then you’re already up. For the getting up early – are you getting enough sleep? Personally – I need more sleep than the average person. I know this about myself. Most of my friends are fine with 6 or 7 hours of sleep. I need more like 8 or 9, so I go to be early enough so I can get enough hours of sleep to get up and actually feel rested the next morning.

    Another part to this – you may not actually be allowing yourself enough time to do basic tasks. Start timing yourself and don’t rush – see how long it actually takes you to take a shower, dry your hair, put on make up, get dressed, etc. You may *think* you take a quick shower because it feels quick, but you may time it and realize you’re in there for 15 minutes. You may think you can do make up, blow dry hair, and get dressed in 15 minutes, but it might actually take you 30 minutes. Time yourself not rushing and see how long it really does take you to get ready in the morning, and then plan accordingly. If you really need 1 hour to get ready, but you always thought you only needed 30-40 minutes, then that’s half the battle! Don’t forget about your commute time either. Time your commute for a week – see how long it takes you on average. I’ve noticed that leaving at different times changes my commute time. If I leave by 7:30am, it takes me 40 minutes to get work. If I leave closer to 8am, it takes more like 45 minutes, etc.

    Finally, try to change your mindset of what constitutes “on time.” I try to follow the “if you’re on time you’re late” rule of thumb. If I need to be somewhere by 8am, I plan to arrive by 7:45am. Once it becomes habit, then you’re always prepared to be 15 minutes. Then a last-minute emergency or traffic jam doesn’t set you back too far, because you have 15 minutes to spare.

    Gather all of your “statistics” and then you can truly determine what time you need to get to bed, what time you need to rise, and how much time you need to get ready and out the door for work, planning to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled start-time. Over time, you’ll get used to this and it will become habit!

  31. Workfromhome*

    I think you are going about it the wrong way. You are looking for some cure all method because “something always happens” . Unless you are incredibly unlucky I’ll bet the majority of things that caus you to be late are under your control and that the idea they are random events is a false perception.

    Keep a log for a couple weeks every time you are late what caused you to be late.

    If it’s something like

    Slow driver
    Hit snooze
    Cat Got sick
    Slow Driver
    Hit Snooze
    Forgot my shoes

    You can easily see the patterns. Then you can decide if you want to own the reasons you are late and correct them or just blame it on stuff always happening TO you. You can’t control the cat really so you were caused to be late 1 out 6 times by something unexpected. The other 5 ? You either leave earlier for work or accept you will be late because you choose not to leave at thyour right time to have a cushion. You either go to bed earlier and move your a alarm or you accept you are late because you choose not to fix it.

    If it’s important enough to you to care about being on time then it should be important enough to identify the issues (all the issues) and change them.

    1. Hannah*

      I agree that a change in mindset could help. There are some things that you absolutely cannot control. Like, no one can control the weather, so you’d be silly to try. But being a person who is always on time is not in that category, it is achievable, if you really want that. From your letter it almost sounds like you think this is out of your control, but it isn’t. It’s just hard, and your sleepy-morning-self is sabotaging your awake-self. You have to go to bed early enough that can bear to drag yourself out of bed rather than snooze. If you really want to get up you will; you wouldn’t snooze a a fire alarm at 3am and go back to sleep, right? You’d hop out of bed. I’m not saying it’s easy to adjust into a morning person, it took me months (years even) to gradually shift my sleeping schedule earlier. And I backslide easily when I’m on vacation, because I’m not naturally a morning person. But the early morning work schedule suits my other priorities in life, so I make myself do it.

  32. Tara B.*

    I’m just like you, only that gets compounded with having to take two children to two different schools in the morning.

    One thing that really helped me a lot is sitting down and writing out a reverse schedule. Start with the time that I’d like to arrive at work (7:00 a.m.) and work backwards from there. So if my commute is 10 minutes, then I would leave my house at 6:45 a.m., which means that everything needs to be in my car by 6:40 a.m., which means I need to be fully dressed by 6:35 a.m., which means I need to brush my teeth at 6:30, shower at 6:00 a.m, and so on. I found this really helpful since I’m not just “guesstimating” my time or thinking that I have more time than I actually do.

    My daughter has forgotten stuff in the mornings, too. Having a checklist for her to do has helped tremendously with that. Before she goes to bed, everything on her checklist must be completed. She has to find everything on the checklist (backpack, homework, shoes, jacket, etc.) and place it by the door the night before.

  33. DatSci*

    Thank you in advance to everyone writing in advice on this one. I have the exact same problem and it drives my boss nuts. I have tried my best to stop it, but I am late by 5-15 minutes literally everyday I don’t have a meeting right at 8:00AM (my start time).

    I know the drivers for this problem are that #1. I HATE HATE HATE waiting (so arriving early and then waiting for things to start is PAINFUL for me), and #2. I am a gross underestimater of time, as in what I think will take 15 minutes can take anywhere from 16 to 60 minutes. Being that no matter what time I get into bed I just roll around awake until the time I typically fall asleep, I am afraid nothing will ever work and I’m just going to be late forever.

    I appreciate any advice on how change this for good; at this point I’m afraid the only resolution is a new boss who doesn’t mind it…

    1. Addie Bundren*

      Start with what you do on the days when you have a meeting right at 8:00 AM, and make at least some of those behaviors/that mindset habitual.

    2. PaperFiend*

      For item #1: Is there something you enjoy doing that you could do (and that would be appropriate) while waiting? Bring a book, or a small craft project (knitting, crochet, cross stitch), or a pocket Sudoku, or something? I always have my craft of choice with me so now waiting is a treat — Hey, I get to work on my project!

    3. Dana*

      Have you ever been assessed for ADHD or dyscalculia? I have both, but dyscalculia really messes with time perception. It might be worth looking into, even if you don’t end up getting on meds, just knowing that my brain works differently and adjusting my strategies for dealing with it has helped a lot

      1. DatSci*

        Being that I am a data scientist and perform statistical calculations for a living I definitely don’t think dyscalculia is an issue for me.

        I’m not sure how ADHD would factor in here even if I did have a case of adult-onset of this disorder; is there some symptom or aspect of it that leads to lateness (other than lack of focus -which is not a factor for me)? Is ADHD considered a disability according to ADA (and therefore a time cushion for my arrival time could be an accommodation)?

        1. Dana*

          ADHD isn’t necessarily a lack of focus, although that’s a common symptom. Attention deficit is kind of a misnomer, because ADHD an issue with regulating what you’re paying attention to, and for how long. Being able to hyperfocus on small details but losing the larger picture is about as common as the inverse – this is the root of a lot of my lateness, getting fixated on a small detail and losing time. ADHD can also cause lateness through symptoms like maladaptive daydreaming, forgetting stuff, writing down appointment times incorrectly, being disorganised and having to waste time looking for things, or extra travel time from taking wrong turns due to distraction. Underestimating the length of tasks and not being able to tolerate boredom are very common hallmarks, which is why I suggested it

          I don’t know if it’s covered under the ADA, I’m not american

        2. Jo March*

          Hi! Fellow perma-late here. I have a few concrete tips, but also some thoughts on how ADHD might factor in. (To be clear: I’m not diagnosing you. Just some thoughts that might be useful in answering your question. I was diagnosed as an adult.)

          Re: ADHD and impact on lateness: as I understand it, ADHD is an executive function disorder more than anything else. Which means that it can be very hard to keep all your ducks in a row, so to speak, when you’re trying to do a bunch of things at once – like leave the house, for instance. You note that “something always happens,” which is the story of my LIFE, particularly with regard to mornings. But I have found that since treatment, I’m a lot more able to not only mentally plan for my morning, but also pre-emptively address risks. (For example: choosing shoes beforehand and finding them, making sure that cleaning supplies are easily and quickly accessible in the event of a cat emergency, etc.)

          In terms of whether or not this counts as a disability, I *think* it might (do not quote me), but I’ve never brought it up as one, largely because I find that people are still prejudiced against what might be perceived as mental illness. Should they be? No. Can they legally be? Also no. Do I have time to deal with that? That, too, is a negative. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t, but in my case, I’ve mostly had to work around it, which I’ve done by finding jobs that are relatively flexible and/or putting in extra effort in other areas in order to compensate for any issues caused by lateness. I don’t know if the latter is a strategy I can recommend per se, but it is a strategy.

          Finally, it’s remarkable how much better a lot of people report feeling when they can simply put a name to the issue. Lateness in American culture (don’t know where you are) is often perceived as a character flaw, and it’s also something that seems really simple to fix…but isn’t always, as you know. Also, understanding that about your brain might allow you to feel more empowered about the unique and special qualities that having a condition like this offers; yes, I am late, have too many half-written Post-its on my desk and am a horrible email correspondent, but I’m also able to see an issue holistically, can understand different ideas quickly and – perhaps most important – have a VERY good understanding of the small obstacles that can get in the way of human processes, which in turn makes me better at creating efficiencies for others. Because I’ve struggled too.


          Now, if you’re looking for specific strategies:

          – I’ve found that setting my clocks ahead does not work. I mentally reset them, always. What I have found that works is setting multiple alarms, in different rooms. (Also, +1 for everyone who encouraged you to really focus on sleep. If you’re having trouble with that, try going without blue light [laptop, phone] for the last hour before bed.)

          – If there’s someone in your life who will gently but firmly hold you accountable, use that. I am 31 years old and a director at a tech company, and if I have something that’s incredibly important to be on time for, I will still sometimes have my mother or my boyfriend call me to wake me up. And then call again, ten minutes later, to make sure I didn’t go back to sleep.

          – See if you can work from home for the first hour or two of the day. That might provide you with some more flexibility in terms of getting everything done.

          – Reduce the risks. If you’re late because of breakfast, keep a yogurt in the office refrigerator or a box of cereal in the car. If you’re trying to work in a gym visit AND a morning coffee AND get to work on time, accept that you can’t right now, and go to the gym at night. If you’re late because you need to water your plants, set an alarm to water them in the evening, or get rid of them. If you’re late because you’re putting on makeup or sunscreen, keep an extra one in your desk. Minimize what you need to do to get out the door.

          I hope this helps. I was once fired from a job because of tardiness (well, that was the stated reason. There were other things at play). But definitely remember that being late doesn’t make you a bad person. Flawed? Sure. But everyone’s got something.

    4. Girl in the Windy City*

      There are a lot of tips and tricks out there, many of which are being repeated throughout the comments section, but I find with myself that they don’t often matter. I can have every intention of doing “all the things” but if I don’t make myself do them (and it’s a 50/50 shot sometimes) I fall into being late again.

      What has worked for me as I struggle to be consistent with my preplanning is resetting my arrival time in my head. Instead of “my shift starts at 8:30” I think to myself “I will need to be at the office by 8am.” Then, even if I’m late, I’m still on time. I strive to hit that 8am mark and have been working through the strategies, but retraining my start time mindset has allowed me to work through on my own while not letting down other people.

    5. orangecat*

      As for #1, you are a magical person if you can arrive someone exactly on the dot. I would say the majority of people either get somewhere early or they get there late. There are rarely people who can arrive at their destination at the exact moment they’re supposed to be there. So if you look at it that way, your choices are to arrive early or to arrive late.

      So, which is more painful? Waiting or being late? Waiting may suck, but losing a job over being late would seem the more painful option to me.

    6. AnonAcademic*

      I hate waiting too. But my hatred of “idle time” does not justify me inconveniencing others by being late, IMO. My compromise is that when I’m early, I’ll do something for myself in the sudden “free” time – pay a bill on my phone, go primp in the bathroom, send my mom a quick cat picture – whatever.

      Over time I do think being on time most of the time makes you seem more reliable, and being able to wait patiently is just part of life…I mean, what do you do at the doctors office/DMV/pharmacy/etc.? I assume you cope with that somehow?

  34. Addie Bundren*

    I am not habitually late, but among my friends who are, there’s a pretty similar mindset–that it doesn’t REALLY matter if they’re late. Late to dinner? I’ll understand and we’ll still be friends. Late to work? They’re good at their job in every other respect. Late to a flight–oh wait, no, they’d never be late to a flight, because they would lose hundreds of dollars.

    It might not work for you to arrive early every morning because, in the end, as you’ve described, it may be nice, but it’s not a necessity. It would require you genuinely feeling like you’ll be “late” if you don’t leave a half hour earlier than you normally leave. If you know you can’t truly believe that it matters, because in this case, it doesn’t, then don’t beat yourself up about it!

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      I want to chime in on your first paragraph specifically. I find people being late to things with that attitude pretty offensive. It’s selfishness. We actually had a couple at my former church, who despite being well entrenched in highly technical careers and in their 40’s could not be on time for ANYTHING. Seriously. Church service started at 11. They would walk in the back at 11:30. It’s half over at that point, why on earth are you bothering?? For a while they were attending my mom’s bible study class and they had her CALL THEM (40 year old adults with jobs) to wake them up. I’m not even kidding. They just didn’t care. I guess their jobs were flexible enough that it didn’t matter. They were the running joke at church. We’d take imaginary bets on when they would arrive. Then they had a kid.

        1. TotesMaGoats*

          Exactly what you’d think. What was bad got even worse. I’m surprised if the kid EVER got to school on time. They got more and more infrequent at church and then we left that church. I’m sure it’s still going on.

    2. StudentPilot*

      I once told a friend “When you’re late to meet me, you’re telling me that YOU are important enough for me to wait for, but I am not important enough to you for you to be on time.”

      I didn’t wait the next time she was late.

      1. Dankar*

        I really, really hate this assertion. I might be an outlier, but I work in an international setting and punctuality is just not important in other cultures (something I really wish we Americans would adopt!). I’ve found that when people are consistently late, it’s often because they don’t value the mad dash to be on-time/early that our culture mandates.

        I am completely fine waiting for someone to show up late, and have waited for 40 minutes, no worries.

        1. James*

          I’ve traveled throughout the USA, and found that punctuality changes geographically. Up North being 5 minutes late is a slap in the face in many firms. In the South, they schedule meetings to allow people 15/20 minutes of mingling–if you’re 5 minutes late you’re on the early side. In California folks expected you to be on time, but we all made allowances for traffic (the 405 and I-5 do that to you!).

          It also depends on the group. If I’m in a professional setting I’m early (even in the South–but I don’t touch the doughnuts until someone else gets there!). If I’m going to a meeting at the re-enactment group I participate in, I show up 30 minutes late. I was on time once, and the guy hosting the event was very confused. :D

          In short, what “on time” means depends heavily on the culture you’re working with. If you’re in a culture where they plan on 20 minutes of casual mingling after the stated start time, you can’t tell someone “You being late is an insult”; you expecting the culture to change to fit your views is the problem, not the culture. Likewise, if you’re in a culture where “on time” means five minutes early, you can’t show up 15 minutes late and say “Oh, I thought we weren’t really getting started then”, for the same reason.

          1. James*

            Depends on the person. I frequently deal with client reps for multi-million dollar contracts. If they’re 40 minutes late, I’ll wait 40 minutes. Pride is all well and good, but I’m essentially in a service industry. For a contractor? No way. That’s unscheduled downtime and our contracts are drafted specifically to address that.

            Then there’s dates and the like. I have 4 sisters. My father INSTRUCTED them to make the guy wait an hour, because that gave Dad time to talk to the poor boy. (Sexist sure, but a boy who could look at a father cleaning a gun while waiting for his date and talk about hunting for an hour was a boy that could survive our family!)

        2. Dust Bunny*

          If you are doing business within another culture, you make allowances for their rules. That courtsey should be accorded American culture, too. My father has a friend from a culture that . . . has a number of things that are markedly different from American culture. But it’s always Dad who has to make concessions; the friend never does. I don’t argue because it’s Dad’s choice, but I feel this person uses him instead of meeting in the middle somewhere (and the guy has lived in the U.S. offand on and worked with Americans for decades; he knows).

          I don’t wait. If we’re supposed to go somewhere or do something, I’ll wait a little bit, but if I don’t hear from you that you’re stuck in traffic or some other thing you honestly couldn’t control, I will proceed without you.

    3. Eddie Turr*

      Are you sure they’d never be late to a flight? You know your friends better than I do, so maybe I’m way off base. But there are people in the world (me!) who struggle to be on time to things that really are important. It comes down to struggling to stay on task — even when I plan well and leave a cushion, I’ll get sidetracked by something because that’s how my brain works. Unless it’s feasible to leave a two-hour cushion (like with plane departures), there’s about a 40% chance I’ll be late. It’s just a lot harder to control your brain than it is to control your actions.

      All of this is to say that with some people, it really is can’t rather than won’t. I hate when people assume that I just don’t care about their time because I had trouble getting out the door. I’m doing my best! This stuff is just harder for me.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yep, this is the way my BF works. There’s always something that sidetracks him, no matter how important the event is.

      2. Addie Bundren*

        I said clearly that when my friends are late I understand.

        Feel free to read some of the very helpful comments on this post!

    4. BPT*

      It’s so true – a large majority of the habitually late people I know are never late to things they want to be on time for. They never miss a flight. They aren’t late for the big early morning work meeting that has a large impact on their career. They can be the first in line (in person or online) to buy tickets for a concert they want to go to. But when it impacts other people? They don’t care about being late. That’s why I never really put much stock into the idea that some people are just late and can’t help it. And there are always excuses – there was traffic, or the metro wasn’t running on time, or they got a last minute call before they left the apartment. (You can learn to anticipate traffic, the metro always runs slow, so plan for it, if it’s not an emergency ask the person if you can call them back later.)

      Now for OP – I don’t think this really applies because even to me, 5 minutes isn’t really LATE. It’s within the acceptable time of arrival. But I get wanting to maybe be a little more relaxed in the mornings and not have to rush and still show up 5 minutes late.

      1. Maxwell Edison*

        This. A person I know is punctual for things he’s interested in and “eh, so what, I’m late” for things he’s not interested in. Similarly, he has no trouble remembering that he gets every other Friday off work but cannot remember that trash pickup is every Tuesday.

    5. James*

      I’ve always found the “you wouldn’t be late to a flight” thing to be rather absurd. Dinner with friends does not frequently involve pat-downs from grumpy TSA agents, for starters. You also hopefully have a closer relationship with your friends than with the folks coordinating airline schedules. I also doubt your friend makes money off me being early, while airports do (why do you think they all have magazine stands, coffee shops, fast-food places, and the like?). There are a lot of aspects to flights that make them rather unique situations, demanding unique measures to ensure being on-time.

      I arrive AT LEAST an hour early to any flight–and if I have to fly after 7 am, it’s 1.5 to 2 hours early if not more, depending on the airport. If I schedule dinner with friends, showing up an hour early is going to be seen as extremely inconvenient (or far too convenient and I end up getting roped into yard work/house work!). I expect TSA to rummage through my stuff (a somewhat scruffy 32 year old–I assume I’m going to get searched); if my friend did that, we would likely no longer be friends. And so on.

      1. BPT*

        People who say that aren’t literally saying that others should be 2-3 hours early for dinner. They’re saying that people who say that they are “habitually late” and just “can’t be places on time” manage to be on time for things that are important to them.

        Nobody is saying you have to be hours early for dinner. But building in 5-15 minutes so you won’t be late isn’t that hard. Sure, at an airport, you expect TSA to rummage through your stuff. On the way to dinner, you should probably expect some traffic. Or delays. Or something that’s going to take up a few minutes. There is ALWAYS going to be something that puts you behind schedule. So people need to learn to ALWAYS budget for that.

        I just don’t have sympathy for my friends who are constantly 20-30 minutes late (while I am always at least on time if not early) because every single time something “unexpected” came up. You can expect metro to have delays. You can expect that the weather might change. If your boss manages to catch you to do something on your way out the door at 5:00 4 out of 5 days a week, then don’t make plans for 5:15.

        1. Addie Bundren*

          But people love to argue with strawmen to convince themselves that their poor habits are excusable!

      2. Anxa*


        I hate being late for friends. I feel awful. I know it’s rude. I’ve gotten better. I think it got worse for a while when I knew I was going to keep them waiting, because “going to meet Friend” became this thing of dread because I was so afraid of being late, that’d I’d put off getting ready! I know, I know.

        Now, I don’t care so much if I’m a few minutes late with friends. Flights, work, appointments, meetings, etc. demand so much effort and energy. It’s one thing to pull an all-nighter so you don’t miss a flight. It’s another to sacrifice sleep for work. But I actually am kind of selfish about this and am not going to beat myself up over a social engagement (still, I do try very hard not to be late and rarely am).

      3. Addie Bundren*

        The point about being early for a flight is that you take care to figure out what the optimal time will be, and leave yourself a bit extra. A habitual latecomer can do the same with work, though they don’t have to do it to the same extent.

  35. NonAnon*

    On the flip side, I wanted to impart something I learned as an adult that has served me exceptionally well.

    I used to work for this HUGE jerk who considered 15 minutes early “late” even though he wouldn’t be there to open the door or provide me with a set of keys. I was already debating leaving the job when I was running late one day and started speeding to get there as close to on time as possible. Of course, I got pulled over and the cop walked up to the window with the $187 ticket in hand – not even a chance to talk out of it, despite not having had a ticket for 6 years prior. I was furious, not only because I would hear about it from boss and now had a ticket that cost more than I would make that day, but because I was going to be even more late and had put myself in that position. Sure enough, when I showed up 5 minutes past the hour, the guy went off! I just stood there and listened until he was done. About five minutes later, his wife pulled me aside and gave me this life changing advice.

    She said being chronically late shows a lack of priorities in place – either you don’t care enough about the event or the person you’re inconveniencing to bother getting yourself prepared in time. Being late every once in a while happens. Whether due to traffic, oversleeping, weather, whatever – it happens. If you’re so worried about being late (when that’s not a normal occurrence for you) that you feel the need to put yourself or other in danger, then your boss is not a reasonable human being and you should leave. No job is worth stressing so much over that you could potentially die (dramatic, yes, but true).

    I was more stunned at the bombshell the jerk’s wife had dropped on me, but that has stuck with me to this day. I’m normally very on time due to preplanning and a minimalist lifestyle, but it does still happen occasionally. When I am running late, I remind myself to breathe and if I were ever going to get fired over 10 minutes, they would have found a reason regardless.

  36. Leah the designer*

    Here is a few things I found that works for me:
    -I use Amazon Alexa as my alarm, so I have to shout at her to get her to stop in the morning. I purposely keep Alexa in the kitchen not the bedroom. The other thing I do in the morning is ask her the how the traffic is for my route to work.
    -I pick out my clothes the day before so I’m not scrambling to find something to wear in the morning.
    -I pack my breakfast and lunch the night before and eat me breakfast while I’m working.
    -If your are a coffee drinker, get an automatic coffee maker with a clock.
    -I take my shower in the AM because it wakes me up. If I’m especially tired I steam a music playlist while I’m showering.
    – Keep all your essentials in the same area, preferably close to the front door, so you’re not scrambling to find them when you are leaving.
    -If you have any small part of your morning routine that can be shifted to doing at work, this can save some time. For example I always wash my glasses in the morning. Now I do it at work.

  37. Anonon*

    Two tips from a chronically late, somewhat improved person:

    Start tracking how long it actually takes you to do things. Do this for at least a week. Time your commute starting when you get in your car (or leave your house if you walk/use transit) and ending when you are inside at work, able to start the day.

    Stop thinking of “something unexpected happens” as being unexpected. You know that it’s pretty common for the cat to get sick, or to have a slow driver in front of you. Expect that something will delay you. The unexpected part is what that thing is.

    I was constantly late and confused because I allowed 45 minutes for my 45 minute commute. Nope, turns out it averages 55 minutes from when I turn on my car to when I’m at my desk with my computer on. 45 minutes is drive time, not walk-from-parking-lot-to-desk time, and doesn’t take into account the unexpected. I also thought of getting all red lights/ the dog having an accident/ my pants having a stain I didn’t notice as unusual occurrences. Nope, turns out something unexpected happens at least 3x/week.

    Good luck!

    1. Unauthorized Cinnamon*

      Yup! I realized “It’s a 10-minute drive to work” is very different from “It’s a 20- to 25-minute task to exit the house, drive to work, deal with possible traffic, find a parking space, and walk to my desk.”

  38. Xarcady*

    What has worked for me:

    1. Getting ready the night before. Down to checking the weather and putting an umbrella in my tote bag if there’s a chance of rain. Clothes, down to accessories and shoes, are laid out the night before. Lunch is made and sitting in the fridge.

    2. Determining the average commute time and adding 5-10 minutes to it. It takes me 12-15 minutes to drive to work, depending on traffic/hitting lights red or green. So I plan to leave 20 minutes before I need to get to work. Built in time for delays.

    3. Have a morning routine. And have a morning routine that has extra time built in. That extra time is for the cat barf, the time you spill your tea on your nice white shirt. My routine is: get up, make/drink tea while checking email, eat breakfast, stretch, make bed, shower, get dressed, gather the day’s necessities and get out the door. But there’s usually an extra 10 minutes there at the end where I can either surf the net, do a tiny bit of housework, or leave for work extra early. Winter’s a pain because I have to allot time for shoveling snow.

    4. Notice patterns/problem solve. If you are always running back for the same thing/type of thing, work out how to prevent that. Keep an extra in the car, or at work, or make a point of putting that thing in your bag the night before. If the cat barfs a lot, consider switching up its food, or giving a hair ball supplement, or brushing it more, or all three ( I have hairy cats).

    Whatever you choose to do, stick with it for a few weeks. You are bound to forget/slip up a bit at first. So pick one thing, and practice doing that for 2-3 weeks. If it doesn’t help after that, go on to something else.

    Some of this is just changing habits. Which is easier said than done. It takes time, and patience.

  39. Eloise*

    Get out of the snooze alarm habit. That extra bit of sleep, nine minutes at a time, is never going to be quality, restful sleep. Instead, set your alarm for the latest possible time you can, and enjoy having more and better sleep. Then when the alarm goes off, get up. Period. No excuses. (Put the phone/clock across the room if you have to.) Once I established this habit, I found that most mornings I wake up on my own a few minutes before the alarm goes off, so there’s the added bonus of not being startled awake. Be stern with yourself; don’t hit that snooze!

  40. Moonsaults*

    I’m actually not chronically late but I do know what it’s like to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. What helps me is to check my email/social media in the morning while still in bed, it gets my head awake and engaged.

    My clock goes off at 6AM and I don’t have to be out the door until 6:45. That gives me snooze time. Then around 6:20 I start poking around my phone and the light, plus social interaction gets me going. If there’s a blog you follow or something similar, perhaps reading a little of that first thing will wake you up and get you ready for the day. I’ve noticed the hardest part is “getting up”, after that, I hit the floor running so I am no help about finding misplaced things, etc. You have to try to put everything back in a specific location, every time so it’s all muscle memory. This changes when you live with people who move your things of course >:(

  41. Pixel*

    Projecting and speculating here, but I pin-pointed my occasional lateness on not wanting to miss out on anything, and dreading having a dead chunk of time in which I could have been doing something else. Solution: always have a contingency anti-boredom plan, always have something to read/listen to/knit while you presumably wait.

    What also helped is visualising heading out on time and the sense of calm when you’re stuck in traffic but know you’ll still be on time, no matter what. Visualising getting to your appointment 10 minutes early with enough time to spare to take a breather, nip into the washroom and feel like I’m ahead of the game. It’s a great feeling and tapping into the positive side of feeling calm and in control can really make a difference in future time management habits.

  42. Kate*

    When I must be somewhere on time with no room for error I always give myself double the amount of time it takes to get to the location. If it is a 15 min drive, I give myself 30 min. If I have to catch the 7:15 bus I catch the bus that comes before that bus. Very little can happen that would make a commute double the time than normal. And also if you are running a few minutes late you will still be early.

    1. Macedon*

      Yep. Allocating yourself twice the estimated time needed to get from A to B is the only way to get anywhere on the London tube in a decent manner, tbh.

  43. Hannah*

    I’m new in a position where I have to be at work at exactly 8am. It was tough for me at first because my previous job was always very flexible on my start time (I could arrive anytime between 7-9:30). Needless to say this was a big adjustment because I was ALWAYS a snoozer!!

    After 2.5 months of changing bad habits to good ones, I finally feel like I’m on a a good schedule to where I can 1) get a good night sleep 2) not snooze and 3) have my quiet time in the morning for coffee and surfing the internet and 4) leaving my house to get to work. Here’s what I did:

    I tell myself I have to leave at exactly 7:30 in the morning to get to work (it usually takes about 20 min). That way, I have a 10 minute buffer where if I leave at 7:30, I’m early, but if I leave at 7:40, I’m still on time. I allow myself an hour and a half to get ready, make my breakfast/prepare my lunch and snacks for the day, make coffee, and laze around. Being able to do this has made me enjoy my mornings since I have my own quiet time!

    I go to bed pretty early to make sure I get a full 7.5-8 hr sleep. This requires getting into bed around 9:30 and falling asleep by 10/10:30.

    I don’t snooze my alarm mainly because my boyfriend gets to sleep in since he works from home. You should definitely try putting your alarm on the other size of the room, turning the light on immediately when it goes off, then walk to turn it off. This part will probably be the hardest and all habits take time to adjust to (I’d say a good couple of months).

  44. KGull*

    You need external accountability.
    My first job at my current job was reception. I had to be on time or the phones would be going to an automated message and people would be standing around not being greeted. It would be a problem. Not I’ve been promoted and I can be 5 or 20 minutes late and it’s not a big deal, and I’m late a lot more. I’m late because I can be. If you want to be on time you probably need a job where there are consequences for not being on time to force the habit.

  45. Dankar*

    Ugh, I have no advice to add, just sympathy. This is me like every morning. The only thing I’ve found that works is telling myself that my shift starts 15-20 minutes earlier than it really is. Sometimes I can convince myself and get there early for my actual start time!

  46. iliadawry*

    I’m a chronically late person who has managed to become early to work. What helped me was setting a leaving-the-house time that would give me a cushion, rather than relying at the time I have to be at work to clock in. Also doing all that other stuff, like packing my lunch and picking clothes the night before & etc.

  47. Tasha*

    After being a 20+ year abuser of the snooze button, I recently changed my habits when I heard Dear Prudence talk about how 1) its use is really disrespectful to your partner who doesn’t have to get up; and 2) PUSHING IT DOESN’T MAKE YOU FEEL MORE RESTED. After a concerted effort for a month to stop using it, I gotta say that it really does feel better (less draggy) to just get up when it goes off.

    Ditto to everyone who’s said to get as much stuff as possible ready the night before. I will go so far as to put things in my car before I go to bed (dress shoes, workout bag, work materials).

    1. Sydney Bristow*

      I used to be a champion snoozer. I could go 2 hours hitting the snooze button every 9 minutes. The only way I was able to break this habit was when I met my husband. I go to work earlier than him on a normal day and he has trouble falling back asleep if he gets too woken up. When we started having sleepovers I never hit the snooze button because I didn’t want to throw off his sleep schedule. It also made getting ready more efficient because I wouldn’t turn on the lights and had to have everything laid out the night before so I could get ready in the bathroom without waking him up. I have to say, I feel so much more rested when I don’t hit the snooze. I’d heard that but never thought it would make that much of a difference. It really does though!

      I get everything ready the night before. Clothes laid out, accessories on the counter in the bathroom, showered, lunch packed, purse with keys and work phone near the door, and shoes next to my purse. It doesn’t take long to do and is my regular routine now. I can be out of the house in 8 minutes in the morning now. I live in NYC so I always include at least 15 minutes buffer time for normal workdays and 30+ for things like interviews to deal with subway issues.

  48. Jo Riley*

    I’m a big fan of lists, especially for when you’re first trying to make a habit of something. Make two lists. Your first should be things you need to do before you go to bed: Pack lunch, pick out an outfit, gather everything you need in the morning, etc. The goal of this list is to make it so that you don’t have to think in the morning–you just have to grab things and go. Put this list somewhere where you’ll see it before you go to bed. The second list should be things you need in the morning. Put this by your door/coat/keys so that you can look over it and avoid having to go back for something you forgot. Both lists should be in a format where you can add one-off things to them and then erase it the next day.

    I also use HabitBull, which is an app that tracks habits you’re trying to form. (There are others like it as well.) For me, every day I check whether or not I made my bed that morning and cleaned the kitchen that night. You don’t want to break your streak, so you’re more committed to keeping up with that habit. For you, you might put down “check evening list” and “check morning list” as habits you’d like to form.

    Someone else already mentioned moving your alarm clock, but I second that. I have a 6:40 and a 6:45 alarm on my phone (which is by my bed), which means I have built-in snooze time; if I don’t get up soon, though, the 6:50 alarm (an old battery-operated clock) goes off on the bookshelf and I *have* to get up.

  49. Mint Julips*

    Ooh…I do that too. So my sister did this thing – she put alarm clocks (3 of them) far away from the bedroom – and they are LOUD. So I HAVE to get out of bed to turn them off and by that time I’m wide awake so I start my morning routine.

  50. SarahTheEntwife*

    Is it just getting going in the morning that’s the big problem or is it a more overall issue? If it’s mostly a problem in the mornings, would it be an option for you to shift your work hours half an hour or so later, or try to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier so you have more time to ease into the day? Or if you’re not sleeping well in general and it’s not just a matter of being a night owl stuck working 9-5, maybe look at whether there’s anything interfering with getting a solid night’s sleep. Low-level sleep deprivation can really do a number on your ability to concentrate.

  51. FD*

    When I was trying to do this (and eventually succeeded), here’s what works for me.

    Step 1: Figure out why you’re late.

    It seems like it’s always something different, but this happens chronically. There’s an underlying reason of some sort behind it. A few options to consider:

    1. You lack energy at the time you’re usually getting ready. For example, some people are just sleepy in the morning, no matter what they do, and no matter how much sleep they got.

    2. You have trouble gauging how much time something will actually take. For example, you might think that showering will take five minutes, but it really takes you fifteen.

    3. You have trouble organizing yourself. For example, you feel like no matter how hard you try, you always forget something vital.

    Give yourself a couple of weeks and try to pay attention to why you’re late. Don’t try to change it, just monitor yourself and try to figure it out.

    Step 2: Make it easy to succeed, and hard to fail.

    One of my biggest delayers is putzing on the computer in the morning instead of getting ready. So, I set my laptop to shut down at a particular time. Once it’s off, inertia takes over, and I start getting ready. (I do get up early enough that I have about twenty minutes to use my laptop before I have to get ready.)

    Are there ways that you can make it easier for yourself to succeed? I know you’ve mentioned you’ve tried to get ready the night before, but what if you tried to make a list of everything you need, and get it ready the night before. That way, it doesn’t matter so much if you don’t have the energy in the morning, because most things are taken care of.

    In addition, if you have trouble waking up, are there things that might make it easier? I have trouble getting up with the loud blaring alarm, so I bought a light alarm that simulates a sunrise, and makes birdsong to wake you up. It’s more gradual and helps me get up and stay up. Likewise, if you have trouble getting to sleep, are there things that might sooth you and help you rest better?

    If your problem is time estimation, one thing I’ve found helpful is to take the time I think something will take and double it. If it takes less time, that’s great, but that way I have some wiggle room for the unexpected.

    Good luck!

  52. Eddie Turr*

    Sounds like you have trouble with time management, and possibly organization — so, trouble getting out the door — rather than an unrealistic idea of how long your commute takes. (Or maybe you have both! What do you think?) As someone with ADHD, I’m constantly struggling with these things, so here’s what works for me.

    1. Definitely keep laying things out the night before, because that’s something you can control (unlike traffic or sick cats). Pick your outfit, pack your lunch, your gym bag, put all the right things in your purse, etc. I’ve started keeping a checklist of tasks I have to do before bed to make my mornings go smoother.
    2. A possible solution for sleeping through the alarm: use a sleep app (I like Sleep Cycle) to wake you up during your lighter sleep cycles. I’ve seen this help a lot of chronic alarm-sleeper-throughers.
    3. Set specific alarms throughout the morning. I have one to wake up and take my medicine, one to get in the shower, one to start getting dressed (after hair and makeup) and one to tell me to walk out the door.
    4. Pick specific places for things like your purse, keys, wallet, and shoes, and start always putting them where they go as soon as you walk in the door. Do not sit down until you’ve put each item where it belongs. This cuts way down on the amount of time spend looking for stuff that’s essential for leaving the house. I noticed a big difference when I installed a key rack by my door.
    5. Is there anything you can cut out of your morning routine to save you time? Doing less in the same time allotment might be more reasonable than simply waking up earlier.
    6. Buy duplicates of stuff you’re likely to forget: phone chargers, reusable water bottles, headphones, whatever you find yourself repeatedly running back home for. If you’ve got one for the office and one at home, you don’t have to worry about forgetting them.

    1. justsomeone*

      ^Yes, I love this duplicates suggestion! I always forget my glasses at home, so now I have a “home” pair and a “work” pair. A charger that lives in my office. Office headphones. I have backup instant-lunches in my desk for when I forget to grab/make one.

      1. Marisol*

        dupes are great. Even if I didn’t need that strategy (as someone with add) I would do it as a quality of life thing–it’s just so annoying to keep track of trivial items and details.

    2. aebhel*

      Your #4 and #6 are my lifesavers. I can always find my keys and phone because I always leave them in the same place; I keep a set of headphones and phone charger (and deodorant, and hand lotion) in my desk.

      If I had to remember all of those things in order to get out the door in the morning, I’d never be on time.

  53. justsomeone*

    So, my question is – are you giving yourself too much time in the morning? I find that if I give myself more than 30 minutes in the morning to get up, get ready and get out the door, I’m late. I cannot have more than 30 minutes. Any more than that and I’m convinced I have all the time in the world and float around until I’m late. With my 30 minutes I toss myself into the shower, brush my teeth, rummage through my clothes to find something to wear, fling on a little eyeliner and grab my purse and lunch. Coffee and breakfast (when I eat it) are at my desk at work (or in my car). The cat puke thing is annoying for sure, but I have some great little cleaner pads that take care of any mess really quickly.

  54. Persephone Mulberry*

    One of these days I’m going to invest in one of those really good sunrise alarm clocks, because I have no problem bouncing out of bed in the summer, but I really struggle with getting up in the dark. Even with the alarm clock across the room, I can get up, hit snooze and crawl back in bed with no compunctions – practically without opening my eyes. But if I can force myself to flip on the bedside light instead of pulling the covers over my head, I’m fine – or at least no longer motivated to hit snooze the next time – so light is definitely a “time to get up” trigger for me.

    1. Kimmy*

      I have a sunrise clock and it helps a great deal. I really dislike the jolt of a traditional alarm, so I have an upbeat song on my iPhone as my backup alarm, and I started prepping my coffeemaker the night before to brew at the same time the alarm goes off. (To be honest, even with these in place, I still don’t get up on time, because I love cuddling with my cats and dog so much and they are extra sweet in the early morning!)

  55. AMD*

    When I changed jobs, I started being five-fifteen minutes late every morning, and in my job being on time was pretty crucial to getting work don even even though there was nobody to hold me accountable for what minute I arrived.

    I realized that part of it was that I just didn’t care as much anymore. I have much less investment in new job than I had at old job, and I was always unhappy and stressed to be there, so I would stretch out morning activities and preparations just a few minutes more until I was late.

    It doesn’t sound like you are unconsciously self-sabotaging, but I would at least consider if part of the problem is you just don’t want to be there.

    The only cure I have come up with for myself is convincing myself I have to leave fifteen minutes earlier than I do – pretending my commute is 45 minutes instead of 30.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Light bulb just went off. I didn’t change jobs, but I’m currently stressed and unhappy about it so I am often late.

    2. Stephern*

      I agree! But my experience was switched around. I was never late to Job A – it was stressful, I never new what I would have to deal with, and I wanted to make sure I never had to stay late so I got there early or on time. Later, I moved on to Job B – a lot less stressful, duties were never too time sensitive unlike job A, and I found myself regularly coming in about 5 minutes late each day. My commute was also shortened with Job B.

      It took me a while to realize that, since Job A was awful, I was on time because I just wanted to go get it done and over with. With Job B, I didn’t have that natural “motivation” if that’s what you want to call it.

      1. Marisol*

        I also have a dawn simulator. Mine is phillips I think, but an old model starting to malfunction. I will check that one out.

        I do love those alarm clocks though. It is so much healthier and less stressful on the body to wake up that way.

  56. Jady*

    Get an alarm you can’t sleep through.

    I’m sure there are a lot of smartphone apps that would do something this. Something that will just have the alarm ring until X minutes, no snooze or off button. Or a separate alarm app, plus a app that locks your phone between Y and Z.

    I’ve also read about alarms that physically move on wheels. It goes off and then drives randomly through the house, forcing you to get up to turn it off. And alarms that flash obnoxious lights.

    Don’t ever have your alarm within arm’s reach of your bed. You must physically get up to turn it on.

  57. Hermione*

    People have already made some great suggestions for tactics to get yourself up and out, but I also have another psychological suggestion: Stop thinking of yourself as a person who is always/often late.

    Instead, tell yourself, out loud, in a mirror, that you are a person who is on-time (a timely person, a punctual person, whatever your phrasing). Tell it to yourself regularly, repeat the mantra in your head when you’re going to sleep, and as you blearily reach for the snooze button, and when you’re fooling around instead of getting ready in the mornings. Remind yourself that punctuality is a part of who you are, and therefore being late is no longer an option.

    In the Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin mentioned a pattern that she noticed for people who were trying to stop doing something (in this case, snacking endlessly on her favorite cookies). She described two types of people: those who could self-moderate (have only one cookie, and be satisfied) and those who needed to abstain in order to stop snacking (“I will never eat Nabisco again”). She and I both identified with the abstainers – I cannot give into my desires partially; if I want cookies, one will not satisfy. However, I have found great success in phrases like “I will never buy or eat Chips Ahoy again.” It’s a hard rule that I cannot cross, and (this is a silly example, but) I am a person who does not eat cookies.

    You will still slip up, or have truly unavoidable traffic or emergency problems that will make you late on occasion, but YOU are no longer a person who is always late. You are a punctual person, by definition, because being late is not acceptable for punctual people. Define punctuality as a facet of your character, and the good habits will start to follow.

    1. OP*

      I’m not always great at the mind-over-matter strength required here, but this is definitely something I’m going to try. Thank you for this suggestion, I like the theory behind this.

  58. Marisol*

    Here are my suggestions:
    1) for the waking up, look at alarm clocks for the hard-of-hearing and the deaf. I have one I sometimes use–I turn off the sound (it is a high-decibel noise) and just use the vibrating disk that shakes the bed. It is so annoying I wake up.
    2) plan your wardrobe a week or more in advance. If you keep your clothes relatively organized (e.g., tops in one place, bottoms in another) then it is very easy, and if you like fashion as I do, then it’s also fun because you can shop your closet for items you always forget about. So instead of a chore, it’s actually creative.
    3) try habitica, an app I learned about on this forum. It helps you manage your tasks and habits by turning them into a game. I really like it.
    4) look into any medical problem you might have such as add or a sleep disorder.
    5) ask an organized friend to help you realistically assess what is holding you back. The fact that you sometimes can’t find your shoes is a red flag to me. Do you need help organizing your home/bedroom? Did someone not teach you home-making/housecleaning skills?
    6) as I mentioned in an earlier post, make checklists, on paper or on the computer, and refer to them to manage your tasks. Do not count on remembering things. Einstein didn’t memorize trivial details and neither should you. Sit down on the weekend and really brainstorm the things you need to have done to get yourself out the door on time, and then from those notes, create a list, and put that list somewhere you will see it every morning–on the bathroom mirror, for example. If there is anything you need to bring with you in the morning such as lunch, or files you brought home, then tape a list to your front door with those items listed so that you will bring them. Some things of course you can just set by the front door (like files) but the stuff like food that needs to be refrigerated–that needs a post-it or something.
    7) set other alarms for the morning, such as a timer for the shower, or a “ten minute warning” timer on your phone for when it is close to the time you must walk out the door.
    8) have enough clocks around you so you always know what time it is–bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, etc.

    hope that helps.

    1. OP*

      Currently, I’m disorganized as a whole. My drawers are beautiful and I have a place for everything, but getting it there is a problem. My fiance has a bad habit of just dumping laundry on the bed and it never makes it into the drawers or the closet. I’m guilty of this too if I’m feeling particularly rushed at the moment (IE: someone else needs to do laundry and it’s late) We’ve got two people’s stuff as well as things we’ve grabbed so we don’t have to buy them when we move out, and our space is just not big enough to handle that. We’re shooting for moving out in April, pending finances. But yeah, right now we’re a disorganized mess.

      1. Marisol*

        From reading this I get the sense that you two might be earthy types, who enjoy acquiring stuff, and who have a high tolerance for clutter (or mess, as some would say) and who struggle at times with motivation. I could be way off but I spent some time working as a professional organizer and there is usually a type of person who needs help organizing their stuff. This type has a high tolerance for other people’s personal foibles as well, which makes them very devoted, non-judgmental friends. They actually *need* a little “judgmentalness” so that they can discern when their habits don’t serve them. In the same way that they don’t take offense at other people’s behavior, they don’t take offense at the junk lying on top of the bed, if that makes sense.

        Definitely don’t buy anything else. I may be misunderstanding, but I can’t imagine why buying stuff after you move would be a problem (are you moving to Antarctica?) In life, there is “being”, “doing”, and “having”, and the earthy types overemphasize “having.” This is the kind of problem that arises when people decide they need to lose weight, and so they start acquiring exercise equipment, which they then never use. So then six months later, they vow to start again, and instead of taking action (like going for a run) they buy more exercise equipment. Somehow I think it doesn’t quite register that acquiring the stuff is not a solution in itself. I personally hate owning stuff and consider it burdensome, so I don’t quite relate, but I think lots of people are like this. (People like me are highly organized, as well as high-strung, judgemental, and need to learn how to relax and enjoy life–everything has a positive and a negative.)

        If this sounds at all like you, then you might need a little more “doing.” You might need to motivate yourself to take action, and put stuff away, instead of leaving stuff lying around. You might like the organizing books by Julie Morganstern, or Karen Kingston to point you in the right direction.

        And obviously, I could be way, way, waaaaay off base here as I’m extrapolating from one short post. So take these ideas for whatever they’re worth and just ignore me if I’m wrong! And good luck either way!

        1. Marisol*

          Also, a book came out a year or so ago called, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and people raved about it. I haven’t read it but it might be worth looking up.

        2. OP*

          I actually love reading organizing books, I check some out from the library practically weekly. We really only have one room and a bathroom for ourselves at our current place, and the bed takes up most of the room. I lack motivation to clean when I feel like I’m not getting any help from my fiance and he lacks motivation to clean because it isn’t our space and he feels like it’s impossible to live up to the perfection my step mother expects. Every couple of months or so we do a massive overhaul and keep it clean, but then we backslide between long work days and the general laziness of “I’ll get to it later” I’m trying to work on the getting to it part. I recently discovered my fiance is apparently really comfortable with laundry on the bed, like, sleeps better and everything. But hopefully, that’s not a necessity because that is one practice I’m really going to be working on beating. I’m trying to get more organized as a person in general, and that’s probably a good place to start.

          1. Marisol*

            Ah…so that laundry on the bed thing would definitely be a problem for me. I wonder if just having a bunch of blankets would give him the cozy feeling he wants.

            Also, you may have considered this, but you can always get cheapie shelves, like plastic plano shelves or ikea shelves, stacking the units as high as they will go (like the plano shelves come with 4 modular pieces, so you join two sets together to get eight shelves that go up the height of the wall) and push them against wall for storage. I love the plano shelves because you can shorten the vertical bars that support the shelves by cutting them with a jigsaw (of course you have to have a saw for that) and so instead of having shelves that are 14 inches apart vertically, you can customize them, for example I make them 8 inches apart, stack several shelves together, and use them for shoe storage. I have no idea if I am explaining that well, but I hope I am. If you’re allowed to install shelves directly onto the wall, you can always use the space high up on the wall for extra storage (you probably know that).

            Also, Ikea sells a cheapie rolling clothing cart for something like 10 or 15 bucks. If you are low on closet space, maybe that could go somewhere against the wall and you could put the items you use the most frequently. These solutions are not the most aesthetic, but then again, in a small space, you have to prioritize function over form and there is beauty in organization…but if you’re reading organization books then you know that already!

            1. OP*

              I’ve got a bunch of ikea stuff. I just have to get around to using it to its greatest potential. I have their Hemnes dresser and nightstand and all the little cubbies are so useful. I just have to get better about putting stuff away in them x.x

  59. Aileen*

    I was a chronically late person that hated myself over it. (I’m still occasionally late, so I’m a “recovering” late person). All the things above – not properly estimating time, doing “one more thing”, perfectionism, all of it were contributing to my problem. I set myself goals and would fail over and over. So here’s what I did:
    I didn’t decide to be on time to everything. I started with meetings (where I’m already there, and literally down the hall). I stopped waiting till the last minute – started thinking ahead about whether I wanted to grab my coffee, how long it would take to walk downstairs, etc.
    Once I was consistently getting to meetings a few minutes early, I moved on to personal events that were close by. Again – how long does it take to get there (google or waze’s “leave by” messages ROCK for this), how long does it take to get the kids in the car, how long does it take to park and walk to the location…
    Now I’m working on “to work” (about an hour away, with a stop to drop kids at school). I’m not there yet, but getting closer.
    Another thing that helps is actually timing EVERYTHING for a bit. Timing from when you get up, how long does a shower actually take. How much time does it actually take you to gather your things and get them in the car. Assume nothing, time everything. It’s enlightening and you get to stop fooling yourself.
    Good luck!

  60. MindoverMoneyChick*

    This post is a brilliant piece of writing on lateness. It has actually helped me a lot by making me realize there are steps in the process of getting somewhere that I never account for. Grabbing my coat and keys, finding my wallet, plugging my destination into my phone so Waze can lead me there. Finally realizing that has made me build in the time it actually takes for these things (which is more than 2 minutes)

    Also as other have said, external accountability in the morning is key. Now that I’m working in my own business I literally have a friend do a video chat with me every morning to make sure I’m at my desk by 9:00. Literally nothing else worked for me, but this works really well.
    This post is a brilliant piece of writing on lateness. It has actually helped me a lot by making me realize there are steps in the process of getting somewhere that I never account for. Grabbing my coat and keys, finding my wallet, plugging my destination into my phone so Waze can lead me there. Finally realizing that has made me build in the time it actually takes for these things (which is more than 2 minutes)

    Also as other have said, external accountability in the morning is key. Now that I’m working in my own business I literally have a friend do a video chat with me every morning to make sure I’m at my desk by 9:00. Literally nothing else worked for me, but this works really well.

  61. Terra*

    The thing that has helped me the most is figuring out my “inertia points” and doing what I can to mitigate them. Basically points or things that tend to slow down your routine more than they need to for whatever reason. For a long time one of mine was sitting to do my make-up meant that it took 30 minutes to put on. Standing cut that down to 15 because I’m not as comfortable so I’m less likely to dawdle. I think everyone has stuff like that and if you can find yours and try to cut them down it can help a lot.

  62. memyselfandi*

    Whenever a behavior persists you have to look at what you are getting out of it. I am not sure that being late is the behavior that needs to change here. Maybe you get some enjoyment out of walking into the office when everyone else is there? Maybe you get something out of being obsessed with the fact that you are late and talking about it, which is different from being late. Is it something you are known for and secretly enjoy that notoriety? Maybe I am not explaining it well, but I have found the approach works for me.

    1. benzz*

      A pull towards some ‘reward’ is not the only possible form that motivation can take. There is a second part to carrot and stick . .

  63. Elizabeth*

    OP, I feel I may have actually written your post in my sleep. Just an hour ago I was having the same conversation with myself. I am not a naturally punctual person, I have to fight with it every single day, especially since I’m a night owl who’s supposed to be at work at 7 a.m. A few months into the job, and I’m ever-so-slowly losing the punctuality battle — arriving at 7:02, 7:05, 7:08 more and more often. Fortunately no one seems to actually care, but this whole week I’ve been getting up 15 minutes earlier with the goal of leaving just 5 minutes earlier to ensure that I am Really Actually On Time — only for *something* to happen every single darn day, from traffic slowdowns to breakfast explosions to unexpected trips to the bathroom. So I’m reading all the advice here with as much interest as you!

    I already set out everything the night before, *really try* to get enough sleep, and since I’m just not capable of not hitting snooze, budget enough time to hit snooze a few times. I can testify that those things help in the long run, even if on a particular day you get scuttled by something else. I’m reluctantly considering the advice of those saying to leave yourself more of a time cushion… my entire soul cries out against getting up (and going to bed!) any earlier than I already do, but we’ll see.

    Best of luck, OP!

  64. Is it Friday Yet?*

    “Or, if I do get up early, then I can’t find my shoes, or my cat gets sick and I have to clean it, or traffic is backed up and I’m stuck behind that one slow driver. If I leave the house early, I seem to always have to run back for something. I’ve tried setting out everything I need the night before, but it feels like something always happens.”

    It sounds like you need to get more organized. I would never have a problem finding my shoes because I always put them away in a rack by my door. If my dog got sick, sure this would put a wrench in things, but I always keep all of my cleaning supplies under the sink along with rags. If you know where everything is, you really shouldn’t be late unless of course something happens that is outside of your control (like an accident).

    I always get up MUCH earlier than I need to, so that I am not rushing around and can enjoy my morning. Sleeping through your alarm is really a habit that you need to find a way to break.

  65. Kyrielle*

    If you aren’t getting 8-9 hours of sleep, go to bed earlier so you are.

    Otherwise (and maybe anyway), check with a doctor. Some of these things are clearly not a medical issue for you (cat puking in the morning, for example), and maybe none of them are.

    But someone else mentioned ADHD, and I’ll also point that poor sleep or not enough sleep can cause most of the same issues (and also sleeping through/snoozing alarms if you try to stretch it any earlier). If you think you’re getting enough sleep, a sleep study might be revealing in case the quality of the sleep you’re getting isn’t enough. (Anxiety can, too. And you do sound stressed about the situation, but given that you’re so often later than you mean to be, being stressed might be perfectly normal!)

    Again, there are lots of other reasons it might be, but if it’s something like this – then all the careful organizational steps in the world aren’t going to totally counter for it.

  66. Pwyll*

    I’m also terrible at this. One thing that has helped me with the constant snoozing is using one of those new-fangled watches or wrist bands or iPhone apps (Sleep Cycle) that will wake you up at some point prior to a certain time when it senses that you are not in REM. For whatever reason, biologically I am almost always in deep sleep right around the time I need to wake up for work, but even though this wakes me up 20-40 minutes earlier than I’d normally set the alarm for, I wake up not feeling like Rip Van Winkle.

  67. Sassy Sally*

    Another thing that might help OP get to bed on time (if they have an iPhone) is to use the new bedtime feature in the alarm application. The bedtime feature gives you a heads up that “Bedtime” is coming up in order for you to get X hours of sleep and be up by Y time! It’s really helpful and reminds me to start winding down and wrap up my evening activities.

  68. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Have you tried using Google navigation each morning to go to work, even if you know the way?

    I suggest this because it can tell you up to the minute which route is faster.

  69. Lily Evans*

    One of the best things I did about lateness was quitting the snooze button. I don’t even consider it as an option any more, because it’s so easy to fall down the “well, just five more minutes…” rabbit hole. Also, accepting that I will never be a punctual morning person and giving myself the time I need to move through the morning at my own pace (even when I could definitely sleep later/rush more) really helped. I give myself a minimum of an hour to get ready and keep a tight schedule of what happens when, with a bubble of extra time at the end that can be used as bumming around on the internet time or catch up time if part of my routine goes late. Bumming around online doesn’t get to happen unless I’m totally ready and have at least 15 minutes to spare, because it’s too easy to lose track of time when it’s just a few minutes.

    I’m also really bad at my awareness/judgement of how much time I need to get somewhere, so I just way overestimate. I’m usually a good 20-30 minutes early to work, because if I cut it any closer, I know that that time would just slip away and I’d be late. I also have a lot of punctuality-related anxiety, so having that extra time is reassuring when there’s a traffic jam or anything that messes with my commute.

  70. kylo ren*

    So much wonderful advice! I am a chronically late person who hates being late as well. Thankfully, I manage to get to work on time but I never quite feel put together. I roll out of bed sometimes only 10 minutes before I absolutely must be on the highway, and I have a giant dog to feed and let out in addition to getting myself ready. I hate feeling stressed and rushed, but I am the kind of person that will sleepwalk to turn off alarm clocks that are placed across the room. I have started laying things out the night before which definitely helps, but it’ll take time to have that habit take hold.

    I think I may have to cave and buy the Phillips Sunrise alarm clock. I’ve been eyeing it for a long time.

    1. Kelly L.*

      The canine alarm. When I had a giant dog, I could never sleep in. Not even on weekends. “OMGFEEDMEFEEDMEFEEDME”

      1. Kelly L.*

        (You know, I think this is where I got the habit that I rarely do sleep in on weekends, but if I’m super tired, I’ll often take a nap at like 10am. I think it comes from when the dog would wake me up.)

      2. kylo ren*

        I wish my giant dog were like that! Most weekday mornings I have to wake HIM up. He’s incredibly lazy.

  71. TheCupcakeCounter*

    As several other people mentioned, get as much ready the night before as possible. I lock the cats out of the bedroom so my laid out clothes are fur-free (an orange and a gray who both think black pants are the best kitty bed ever) and have all my accessories on top of the case for grab and go. Food is all prepped the night before as well. I do the same thing for the small child I need to take with me each morning who is usually what makes me late.

    Part of the problem is probably not enough sleep. Turn off electronics about 30 minutes before bed and try some calming yoga or whatever relaxes you and your mind. Try some melatonin to help your sleep cycle get back on track but the absolute best thing I’ve found to ensure a good night’s sleep is exercise. I am a desk dweller to expend almost no physical energy throughout the day. I have also found it doesn’t matter what time I exercise as long as it is a good, hard session that leave me feeling a bit wobbly. Benefits of morning workouts are more energy and less coffee needed to function (which since I love those horrible for you creamers is a good thing) and I do feel I focus better all day. Plus I don’t have to try to fit it in some other time so less stress there. Con is obviously waking up earlier. I’ve done the workout at lunch thing and the pros for that are usually someone to workout with and my body craves healthier more nutritious foods at lunch, Cons are the needing to shower and redo everything before going back to work. Night is the hardest time from a scheduling perspective but I think I get the best sleep those nights.

    Best advice is to try a few suggestions for a bit and see if they work for you. If they don’t try something else.

  72. Dr. Doll*

    My husband whom I love dearly otherwise has the annoying habit of being late unless *he* needs to be somewhere. If *I* say, “Honey, I want to get someplace by X o’clock, can we leave by X minus 45?” then we will leave by X minus 15 because he heard “X” and then tuned out the rest. It does not work to say “let’s leave at X minus 45” because then he will want to know *why* we need to leave at that time. This is especially true if he doesn’t really want to go (church on Christmas Eve for example…I like to go to hear the pretty music). But if he needs to be someplace by Y, by god we’re out the door.

    OP, I’d say that if your minor lateness is really not affecting anything or anyone else, it may not be worth the mental and emotional energy to try to change it. Put that energy toward being awesome in some other way.

  73. Mela*

    I heard something that changed my life about this: Have you ever missed a plane because you’re late? If you haven’t, then it isn’t actually that important to you to be on time to the stuff you’re chronically late for.

    1. Wakey Wakey Eggs and Bakey*

      Yeah! I did think this may be the true underlying reason. The LW states that nothing falls through the cracks when she’s late. I bet her boss isn’t making a big deal of it so LW can continue to get away with it only impacting her own serenity.

    2. Kelly L.*

      Hmm, I’m not even sure about that–because I think a lot of us have had it drilled into us that you have to be hours and hours early for a plane. When I was a kid, if we were taking a plane anywhere, we’d get there 4 hours early and then hang around the airport, and this was back in the 80s and 90s, *before* the 2000s TSA stuff. So, if I were going to the airport and started running late, I might just be 3 hours early, which is still early. With work, you can’t go there 4 hours early, and if you run an hour late, you’re an hour late for the real stuff rather than for the waiting.

      And some people do miss planes too! :)

      1. BPT*

        But that’s the point – you’re constantly thinking of the things you need to do to get to an airport early, and thinking of the things that could go wrong. People need to expand that to other parts of their life.

        And sure, planes are occasionally missed. But I’ve never met someone who constantly misses every flight they buy because they are “habitually late.”

        1. Kyrielle*

          I do know one guy who has caught most of his flights by arriving at the gate at a sprint after the door is open, though.

          The thing is, I’m _not_ chronically late…and I’m usually at the airport 2 hours before a flight and end up sitting at the gate for an hour or so twiddling my thumbs. For something I do fairly rarely, that’s worth it to be sure I don’t miss a flight, but for a daily thing for work, an hour earlier than actually needed is fairly ridiculous, and a big impact on your life.

          (And…the guy I know who’s constantly arriving at the last minute travels frequently for work. Although I know other people who do and are still prone to being earlier than that, just not as early as I am.)

          1. BPT*

            But he still makes the plane, right? I would be happy if a friend ran up to the restaurant when they were late and I had been waiting 20 minutes for them. Much happier than if they sauntered up like it was no big deal.

            And I meant the general you, not you specifically.

          1. BPT*

            Nobody is saying get to the office three hours early, but scale it to the potential fallout. That might mean that you get to an important meeting 20 minutes early, and a regular workday or meeting friends 5 minutes early. But you still think about the possible things that could go wrong, weigh how likely they are, and adjust accordingly.

            It’s likely that I’m going to run into traffic, or the metro is not going to run on time, or my Uber might get lost. So depending on how likely those are, I’ll budget extra time for them. It’s not that likely that traffic will cause a three hour delay where I live so I don’t take that into consideration as much. But since I normally account for these things, if I’m late once in a while because of something truly unexpected, then it’s no big deal.

            1. aebhel*

              I understand that. I guess I’m coming at this from the perspective of having ADHD and serious executive dysfunction, so it’s frustrating when I see people to approach all issues with lateness as ‘well, if you just planned better, it wouldn’t be a problem’. I realize that. The problem is that I *can’t* plan better, or I can’t enact a plan once I have one. That may not be OP’s problem, but it is a problem for a lot of chronically late people.

              There are workarounds. Showing up way early is one, but it’s not a practical one on a daily basis. I’ve had better luck with keeping to a strict routine that I don’t allow myself to deviate from, and preparing as many things as I can in advance… and, honestly, by not having a job that requires me to be at work at a particular time on the dot.

              1. AnonAcademic*

                ” The problem is that I *can’t* plan better, or I can’t enact a plan once I have one. ”

                My husband has ADHD and I’d encourage you to think differently about this. You might not be able to think through all the future contingencies like a neurotypical person, but you can certainly learn from past outcomes yes? That’s how you developed your routine I imagine? Isn’t following that routine just enacting a plan? Doing something a different way /= not being able to do the thing at all ever.

    3. Isben Takes Tea*

      Right, and there’s a difference between having one big thing in your mind, and a routine event, like work. I’m not saying it’s wrong to equate the two, but if it takes a ton of energy to be on time for a plane, that’s energy you are expending every day to get to work, and it’s not always possible to sustain for people who are not chronologically inclined.

      1. BPT*

        But people aren’t understanding that you scale this to the event. It really doesn’t take that much energy to be on time for work if you get used to it. Once a habit is ingrained, it takes up much less space in your brain. It becomes the routine of really knowing how much time it realistically takes you to get ready, how much time it takes you to get to work, and then building in an extra 10-20 minutes. I know people’s commutes can vary, but if it normally takes you anywhere from 30-90 minutes to get to work depending on traffic, then plan for 60 minutes. Check your traffic app. If it looks bad, cut your getting ready time or bring your makeup with you and leave early. If it looks like a shorter commute, you have more time to relax.

        Nobody is saying get to work hours early every day. But if you have somewhere important to be, plan to be there earlier than normal. On a normal day, plan to be there five minutes early. That way, if you are occasionally late, it’s not as big a deal.

        Plenty of people are on time for almost everything. It just takes work sometimes.

        1. Isben Takes Tea*

          I’m not arguing that plenty of people can figure it out, or that you should just give up trying. But I am pointing out that some people’s neurological wirings have little to no concept of time, and the amount of work can be exponentially more for some people. So being chronically late does not necessarily equal laziness or “just not trying.”

          1. BPT*

            Yes, I realize that in a few cases, people’s brains work differently. Or some people have ADHD which makes it harder. But I don’t think that’s true for everyone who is chronically late.

            And I’m sorry, if someone ALWAYS shows up about 20-30 minutes late, then that tells me that it’s not that they have no concept of time. They are just underbudgeting by 20-30 minutes how much time they need. If they really had no concept of time, then sometimes they would show up 30 minutes early, sometimes it would be 2 hours late, sometimes it would be exactly on time. I realize that some people might work like this, but my friends who are constantly late do not, and they’re the ones I’m mostly talking about.

            1. Isben Takes Tea*

              Yes–I think there’s a big difference in how late people are, and their consistency. I don’t mean to excuse away complete disregard for other peoples’ time, just highlighting that a 5-15 minute flexibility can be a huge stress-reliever for some who struggle with this and are trying really hard.

        2. benzz*

          Scaling the amount of time that one aims to be early does not reduce the number of decisions involved. It is the number of decisions that tire the brain, not the size of the numbers (of minutes).