By Lea Schneider

Being on time in business is important. It’s easiest to see why if you think of it in reverse. What does it say about you if you are late? It can give your boss, investor or potential client a negative impression.

Running late can become a habit, and if it is, it’s one you should break. A New Year is the perfect time to develop new habits. Armed with a resolution and some timepieces, you can change the impression you make.

Tick Tock: Get a Clock

Seriously, clocks make a big difference. According to Time.com, Americans collectively check their phones eight billion times a day, which is an average of 46 times by each person. A good number of those consulting their phones are checking to see the hour.

As you check to see the time on your phone, you can’t help but notice icons directing you to social media posts, emails and text messages. Immediately, you poke the screen to check this message and peek at that email. Distracted from the task at hand—checking the time so you wouldn’t be late—you’ve made yourself even later.

Glancing at a clock on the wall of your home or office doesn’t provide the same distraction. There’s a time and place for responding to messages, and it usually isn’t when you need to be checking the time. Add clocks throughout your home, and use these other tips to stay on task and stay on time.

Morning Tips

Start with your dressing area or bedroom to help you get ready on time. Having a clock available to glance at will keep you moving. Try these out-the-door tips:

  • Get a weather app for your phone. Check the forecast each night so you know what weather to expect in the morning.
  • Lay out your clothes for the next day, plus any needed outerwear.
  • Choose one spot and use it daily to keep your wallet, glasses, keys, briefcase and anything you need for work handy.
  • Add a wall or countertop clock to your bathroom.

Take a few minutes to organize your kitchen so that it works to help you get going in the mornings.

  • Add a wall clock so you can keep an eye on it as you perform morning tasks and eat breakfast.
  • Stock up on quick, healthy breakfast options, like yogurt, granola bars and pieces of fruit, so you can grab and go if need be. This will keep you from taking time at a drive-thru or staying home and eating.
  • If you bring your lunch, prepare it the night before.
  • Make it a habit to run and then empty the dishwasher every night before bed so any clean-up in the morning is a snap.

Once at Work, Stay on Time

Arriving at work isn’t the only deadline you have to meet. It is just the first one of the day. It’s really easy to be super dedicated, work really hard and always be late. You get so focused on your mission that the time flies by. Make being on time throughout the day a priority by trying some of these workplace techniques.

  • If you don’t wear a watch, start. It isn’t always wise or appropriate to have your phone out during meetings.
  • Request a wall clock for project or conference rooms for the same reason at home: You can check the time without being pulled by distractions.
  • Early in the day, set phone or computer alarms to remind you of meetings or appointments.
  • Block out time on your calendar. Instead of noting an appointment is at 10 o’clock, block out 9:30 to 11:30 to allow travel time in both directions and time for the actual appointment. We often run late because we’ve overbooked ourselves.
  • Use visual reminders, like a wipe-off board, to post deadlines for looming projects.
  • End the day with a review of tomorrow’s agenda. It’s better to manage your time, moving things as necessary, than running continually late and stressed.
  • Get gas or dry cleaning and anything else you need for the next day on your way home. Putting it off will only make you late tomorrow morning.

The most important change to make when you resolve to be on time in the coming year is your attitude. If you plan on making each person you do business with feel as if they are very important to you, then you won’t want to be late.

Lea Schneider  is a professional organizer who writes for The Home Depot. She offers some great tips on organizing personal space and becoming more efficient. Various timekeeping options, like wall clocks, can be found at Home Depot online.