How to Salvage Your Morning When You’re Running Late


$@#! happens. Even the most organized and prepared people (moi included) will on occasion find themselves having a hard time getting out the door in the morning. You know the kind of morning I’m talking about- your alarm doesn’t go off, there’s something wrong with your shower head, you find a stain on your favorite shirt.

Been there. Done that.

Let’s talk defense first. If you’re not a morning person, you may want to check out this post on how I survive my mornings (because, let’s face it, I’m not one either). Ditto if you’ve got kids, or you’re just generally a very busy person. An organized morning routine is one of the best ways to prevent the nightmare I’ve outlined above.

But sometimes, life gets in the way and even good organization can’t help us. Starting the morning off badly can set the tone for the rest of the day, so it’s important to have a good strategy to divert any crises and save your morning from complete ruin. Here are some of the practices that I use during my own crazy mornings.

Call ahead and admit you’re running late. Whether you’re running behind to get to a shift at work, or an appointment, equipping other people with the knowledge you’re running late gives them a opportunity to take action- either to cover for you until you arrive, or to rearrange their own schedules accordingly.

It can be hard to admit that we’ve made a mistake, and yes, your co-workers might be irritated with you, but they’re going to be a whole lot more irritated when you waltz in the door twenty minutes after their shift was supposed to end with no noticed or explanation from you. Believe me when I say it’s worth the hassle (plus you may be surprised at how much more accommodating people can be when you’re just honest with them).

Calling ahead also gives you the opportunity to give colleagues or staff the information they need to continue their work without you. It allows them to get on with their own lives, lets you off the hook until you’re able to make it in, and lessens the impact that your late arrival will have on the rest of everyone else’s day.

Once you’ve made the necessary arrangements, take a quick look at your schedule to see what other meetings and appointments might be affected by your late start. Giving people as much notice when rescheduling or cancelling appointments is not only professional, but also kind, and makes up somewhat for the inconvenience.

Lastly (and I know this is a hard one)- try not to panic. When you’re feeling rushed and frantic you are prone to make mistakes or forget things, which slows you down. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when nothing is going your way, but personally once I let people know I’m going to be late and rearrange the day’s schedule accordingly, I try to stop looking at the clock. Once you’re late, you’re late and no amount of clock-watching or teeth-grinding is going to make a difference.

Time has this funny way of continuing to march through our days without us. It’s important to pause, and find your moment to jump back in on the upbeat. If your timing is right, then I’m confident you’ll get your groove back and restore some of natural rhythm back to your day.


I want to hear about your worst morning ever. No, seriously. Was there ever a time when you were horribly, inexcusably late for work? I once was stuck on a subway for two hours with no cell phone reception on the way to an appointment across town. I still have visions of the look on the secretary’s face. Comment below or drop me a line at if you’re just too embarrassed to share.

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