What's the last excuse you gave for being late?

CareerBuilder survey found the main reasons people miss work are:

Traffic - 51% Byte Author Uploaded Image Oversleeping / Too tired - 54%

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Bad Weather - 28%

Byte Author Uploaded Image Forgetting Something - 13%

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Other common excuses were: having an appointment, a sick child, a school delay, car trouble, mass transit delays, a family emergency or illness, house problems, or waiting for a service person for repairs.

If you have used some of the excuses above or have different ones adding buffer time can help.

Skills You Will Need:

a) Time estimating

  • Before you do a task, guess how long it will take.

  • See if your estimate was close. Many people will consistently be on average too high or low.

  • Practice this with things like doing chores, work, hobbies, or cooking.

  • Over time, you will improve this skill.

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b) Planning ahead or forethought

  • Break large tasks into smaller steps to identify possible problems.

  • Taking a few minutes before you start can save you hours of frustration later.

  • Consider the following before starting a project or doing a task:

    • What is my goal?

    • What materials do I need?

    • How long will this take?

    • Do I need assistance?

    • Where could things go wrong?

    • Should I do a little research first?

c) Comfort with trial and error

  • Adding buffer time sounds like it will be easy but like many daily habits, it will take months of practice before it comes naturally to you.

  • Build your own systems to add buffer time.

    Example: when taking transit, always leave 15 min early per every hour of transit time.

  • It is common to add too little or too much buffer time at first. Over time, you'll find the sweet spot.

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Doing your dishes takes 20 min most days and 30 min sometimes. Including buffer time: How much time should you reserve for doing dishes?


Tim is late for work often.

He lives 15 minutes from work.

Tim's Thinking:

  • I live so close to work, I will leave home at 8:45 am

  • I am only 5 minutes late sometimes

  • I usually sleep in until the last minute

  • Being late does not matter that much

Pablo is always on time

He lives 40 minutes from work.

Pablo's Thinking:

  • In case of traffic, I will leave at 8 am

  • Most days I arrive to work at 8:50 am

  • My commute is not stressful because I listen to music and audiobooks

  • I want a good review and to be reliable


How much buffer time should Tim add to his schedule?

Take Action

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  • Decide being on time matters

  • Identify common reasons you are late

  • Estimate how long tasks will take

  • Add buffer time to the estimate

  • Adjust as needed

  • Find hobbies you can do if you are early to an event:

    • Listen to Music

    • Read a Book

    • Play a Game

    • Meditate

  • Try it yourself!


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