Don’t check your email or voicemail right before you leave.
That “last quick check” will almost always take more time than you think — which is, after all, what you’re hoping for.
Plan for trouble.
Always add 25% to your time estimate to get anywhere or do any task. If you think it takes 30 minutes to get to work, give yourself 40 (technically, 37 1/2, but let’s not be ridiculous here!). If you need 12 working hours to finish a proposal, give yourself 15. The worst thing that could happen is that you get a nice “Scotty effect” going, where you’re always ahead of schedule and everyone thinks you’re a miracle worker.
Set up the night before.
If you are the type who has a hard time getting going in the morning, make sure you set up the night before. Lay out your clothes, put your keys, wallet, etc. in tomorrow’s pants pockets or your purse, load up your bag with whatever material you’ll need in the morning, put your lunch together, and so on. In the morning, wake up, get dressed, grab your stuff, and go.
Set your clocks ahead a few minutes each — by different amounts.
You might have a look at the Procrastinator’s Clock which is some random amount of time ahead, up to 15 minutes. It’s available for Mac and PC.
Learn to better estimate how much time things take.
Use a time tracker app like RescueTime to learn how long typical tasks take you to complete. Record these times, and refer to your record when estimating the time needed for similar tasks.
Schedule events 10 minutes early.
Put your 1:00 appointment into your schedule at 12:50, for example. But always have 10 minutes of work with you to fill the slack time, in case you surprise yourself by showing up “on time” 10 minutes early!
Use your calendar program’s built-in reminder function, or use a service like Sandy to send you text reminders at set intervals before each appointment.
Schedule events for “off-peak” times.
Learn the times that traffic or other factors might make you late, and avoid scheduling during those times. For example try to give yourself at least an hour to get settled in every morning before your first meeting (so if you’re late to work, you won’t also be late for a meeting), don’t schedule meetings immediately after lunch (in case you get held up), and avoid before-working-hours events (due to rush hour traffic).
Fill your gas tank when it reaches 1/4 tank.
Fill up whenever you reach 1/4 and you’ll never have to make an emergency stop at a gas station during your commute.
Use a countdown timer.
Grab a cheap digital timer, and use it to create a sense of urgency, and to help you keep on track at each step you need to complete to make it wherever you’re supposed to be on time.