Car problems, lumpy pillow, urgent job to finish, family row… Just about any excuse will do when you’re the last to arrive for your meeting. Trouble is, your better-late-than-never attitude is beginning to irritate your clients and work colleagues alike. So here are some clever tips for always being on time.

1. No point in rushing: leave on time instead!
Is your typical morning all about stress, shouting and rushing around? Stop! There’s alternative to the morning madhouse. Get everything you can ready the night before: set the table for breakfast, check the kids’ satchels are ready, put everything you need in the same place (keys, work files, mail to post, etc.). And check to see how long your morning routine really takes – and be honest!

2. Learn to say ‘no’ (to yourself)
There you are, just about to leave when your spouse asks you to help find his or her phone, or a work colleague needs to ask your opinion about something. What do you do? Learn to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty: “I’ve got to go, but I can help you later.” The same piece of advice applies to yourself, too: don’t try to send off that final e-mail, come what may, or make a hash of ‘cleaning’ the car before you leave home.

3. Leave yourself some leeway
Alarm went off late, can’t find your keys, car won’t start… Ever heard of Murphy’s Law? That’s the one: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong! In other words, every little job takes longer than it should. So don’t be too optimistic when you’re trying to plan things: don’t string appointments close together in your diary – and always leave a safety margin to ensure you arrive on time.

4. Make the most of any time you’re kept waiting
Or is another reason for you arriving late… simply because you hate being kept waiting? Sitting there, twiddling your thumbs with your diary double-booked for the day is really annoying. The solution: turn this ‘lost time’ into productive time. Plan to arrive early and take advantage of the time to read an interesting article, send an e-mail to a customer, make a call to a friend, start the shopping list for the evening.