Do you know people who are always late? No matter what time of day – morning (“There was rush-hour traffic”), afternoon (“I got stuck on a call”), after work (“The evening commute is killing me”) – the outcome is always the same: they’re late! These tardy folks will openly acknowledge the benefits of being on time while making sure everyone knows the reasons for them not being punctual.

There are also people who are never late. They’re not superhuman, they’re not time travelers, they just approach the concept of “time” differently than those who are chronically tardy. These “early-birds” have developed personal habits and behaviors that enable their punctuality and allow them to make the most of their activity.

In business it’s important to understand that punctuality matters. Being chronically late can lead to diminished productivity, negative impressions, and compromised relationships with those who have been kept waiting. Worse, lateness can severely undermine your personal brand as well. (Does anyone want to be known as a person that is always late? Does anyone want to wait for the person who is always late?)

The good news is that with a few simple behavioral modifications the chronically late can find themselves better able to be on time:

Control unnecessary distractions

Most chronically late people find themselves distracted by a task or activity that pulls their attention away from getting a timely start. It might be taking one last look at email, finding a missing document, cleaning out a drawer, starting a report, or just about anything that will require more time than is available at the moment. The solution is to set a reminder to go off 10 minutes BEFORE you have to leave, use the ten minutes to wrap up what you are doing, and then get out the door!

Be Realistic – leave enough time

Punctual people always allow extra time regardless of where they are going. They factor in any traffic delays or unforeseen circumstances that might prevent their punctual arrival. By allowing themselves this “cushion” they minimize the likelihood of arriving late.

Wake-up earlier

The same holds true with morning rituals. People who wake up at the last possible second will often find themselves running late. The delay can be caused by something as small as finding keys and wallet. Punctual people wake up at an hour that allows them to navigate the unexpected madness of a morning routine.

Get organized the night before

A simple way to avoid morning meltdowns is to get organized the night before. Place your keys and work bag by the door. Prepare lunch and even select the clothes for the next day. The more you prepare in the evening the less time you will need in the morning, and IF the unexpected occurs, you will have the extra time to deal with it.

Being late is not a positive attribute and you must look closely at why you are allowing yourself to manifest this negative quality. When all is said and done the most important thing for you to do is care about being on time and work to take the necessary steps to change your actions and behaviors that cause encourage lateness.