How to Stop Arriving Late to Those Nearby Appointments

Late to Appointments

This is a guest post by Rashelle IsipRashelle is a consultant, blogger and founder of The Order Expert, a blog featuring organizing, time management and productivity tips, ideas and inspiration to help people ‘round the world “kick chaos to the curb.”

You’ve got an appointment in 15 minutes that is just five minutes from your office.

You tell yourself you have plenty of time to get to the appointment, so you’ll finish one more task. But before you know it, 15 minutes have come and gone and you’re 10 minutes late to your appointment!

How did you manage to arrive late to an appointment that is merely five minutes away?

The Closeness Factor

Being late to any appointment can be embarrassing, but it can be even more embarrassing when the appointment is in your immediate vicinity – around the corner, down the block or even next door. (Ouch!)

Why does this happen in the first place?

Closeness breeds comfort. When you are physically near an appointment or meeting location, you become more comfortable with the idea of traveling to your destination. You end up relaxing your guard so much that you have a skewed perception of time and end up running late.

While feeling comfortable with time is a good thing, feeling too comfortable can seriously impact your ability to manage time.

Here are a few tips to help you from arriving late to appointments that are embarrassingly close:

Tack on another 10 minutes for travel. Do you think it will take you five minutes to get to a nearby location? Practice adding on another 10 minutes to your estimate and you’ll have a healthy cushion of time at your disposal.

Do a walk through. Do you know how long it actually takes you to get from your office to the coffee shop down the street? You might think it takes just a few minutes, but how long does it really take? You might be surprised at what you find – for better or for worse!

Drop travel time into your calendar. Physically write in the travel time needed for your next appointment. You’ll know exactly when you need to leave for an appointment versus telling yourself you have plenty of time to get to your meeting location.

Schedule “Stop working” and “Out the door” times. Set two separate time alarms: the first is to stop all work and start getting ready for your appointment, the second is the time by which you must be out the door and on your way. Having a double-time check might just be what you need to make sure you stay on schedule.

Avoid working on time-sucking tasks before an appointment. What activities seem to drag you into their sphere and make you lose all sense of time? Try working on simple cut-and-dry tasks that let you pay more attention to time itself versus hunkering down and focusing on an intensive or thought-engaging work.

Don’t forget about other aspects of your appointment. While it might take just five minutes of travel time to get to your meeting location, you still have to prepare for the meeting. What other items do you have to prepare in advance of your meeting? Do you have all your meeting materials? Personal belongings? Do you need to shut down your computer or take a trip to the restroom before you leave?

Having a nearby meeting can be a convenience so that you don’t take valuable time out of your work day with travel. But if you don’t follow these tips, you might find the convenience factor of a nearby meeting overshadowed by the embarrassment of being late.

Question: What steps are you going to take to make sure you arrive on time to your next nearby appointment? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

15 thoughts on “How to Stop Arriving Late to Those Nearby Appointments

  1. Sometimes a nearby meeting is a short drive, ~5 minutes, but I forget to add in parking time. All of a sudden, that 5 minute trip is now 10 minutes because I had to find a space, carefully park, grab my stuff out the car, and walk to my destination.

    I find that if I assume it’s going to take an extra 5-10 minutes for every meeting that has some travel component, I’m much better off. Even if I arrive early, there’s usually some email to send out or some article I saved to read.

    Or I can just be early, enjoy the lack of stress, and reflect on life for those few minutes…

    1. Hi Ryan,

      If only travel time were a simple door-to-door experience without all those other considerations…it certainly would make things so much easier.

      Even if an appointment is nearby I like to add another time buffer for processing once I actually arrive at my destination. I find there’s so many different things that can take time: from checking in with security or signing in, to working my way to the meeting location, to meeting and greeting with clients, colleagues and so on. That’s probably another 5-10 minutes right there. And we all know how quickly those minutes can add up…

      Thanks for your comment!


  2. Logistics are an easily forgotten element that that challenges time and stress level too often – great article!

    Another pitfall can be the tendency to set or accept back-to-back time commitments. Even if just moving from one teleconference to another, one needs time to prep, to think, to stretch, or even pour a fresh glass of water or use the washroom. There can never actually be zero minutes between appointments, so plan accordingly.

    1. Hello deterbulence,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

      You make an excellent point about not booking back-to-back appointments, teleconferences included. It can be really difficult to turn around from one meeting to another, even when you’re still physically sitting in the same location.

      In my experience, not only is there logging off from one teleconference and logging into another, but you often have to make sure all connections are running smoothly, slides are prepped and participants are present…just to name a few things.

      In this case, I’d also schedule in a buffer of time to make sure everything can be tested and is ready to go.



  3. So true on the “closeness factor.” I think the idea of being in such close proximity to an appointment location makes us under estimate the importance of building in the extra time it takes to get there. I find that this is so true in my own life. I’m forever just making it by the seat of my pants on most local appointments. Your 10 minute buffer advice will truly revolutionize how I plan my day.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Agreed! When the meeting is right down the hall, or the appointment is right around the corner… is when we don’t leave enough time to get there. 🙂

  4. I always underestimate how long it will take me to get to places nearby! There is a small island airport just down the street from house. Because I can practically see it, I think I can walk there in five minutes. Realistically, it takes me 5 minutes just to get out of my apartment building. On top of that there are lights, waiting for the ferry, and the ferry ride — all of which add additional time to the walk.

  5. I always underestimate how long it will take me to get to places nearby! There is a small island airport just down the street from house. Because I can practically see it, I think I can walk there in five minutes. Realistically, it takes me 5 minutes just to get out of my apartment building. On top of that there are lights, waiting for the ferry, and the ferry ride — all of which add additional time to the walk.

    1. Hi Casandra,

      Good point, I think we should make an addendum to the “closeness factor”…there is also something comforting about being able to physically “see” a destination in the distance! If only all of our travels were “as the crow flies.” 🙂

      Thanks for commenting.



  6. Any sort of mismanagement leads the late arrival in any of the places that come into action in the approach. Specifically the usage of tools and apps now a days are on more demand for the time tracking and getting things done up in a well planned and specific manner. When I was long way ahead with the project in Switzerland, I was getting late with pretty no of stuffs which made a bad impact of my seniors on me over there. It was nothing but the mismanagement of the time. Then I planned to have a proper management of the same and seeking ahead to do manually the same, it won’t work out. And the deployment app in my mobile device help be get well managed in terms of time and stay ahead all the way.

    AS of now currently I have been using Replicon’s time tracking software ( ) which has ultimate functionalities to get the time tracked and managed in a well planned manner and that’s too for the better time management and strategy.

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