As an entrepreneur, you’re going to deal with stressful situations. Walking away from a guaranteed paycheck isn’t an easy decision. Then, of course, there’s approaching investors, dealing with setbacks, and so much more. Those are all par for the course when it comes to being an entrepreneur, but right now I’m not talking about the “big” stressors that you’ll encounter (and overcome) on your way to success.

No, I’m talking about one little thing that happens to people almost every day but can cause an incredible amount of stress—running late. Believe it or not, being stressed about running late can actually be worse for your chances of success than showing up a few minutes behind schedule. So let’s talk about this phenomenon, how it happens, how to avoid it, and what to do when you just can’t get there on time.

“WHY AM I RUNNING LATE?”

You thought you had plenty of time. You set your alarm early, cleared your morning, and made sure that you would have all the time you needed to get ready and get out the door to make it to work, an important appointment, or some other engagement. But now, after all that, you’re running late. You’re afraid they won’t take you seriously, and you worry that you will miss an opportunity and find yourself in a bad position. And, when you do arrive, you know you’re going to be rushed and nervous, not calm and relaxed, as you’d hoped.

First, let’s talk about what happened here and how you can avoid this kind of situation on a regular basis. For many people, the problem is the “solution.” Giving yourself “plenty” of time to get ready makes you feel like you have all the time in the world, and so you’re more likely to get sidetracked and waste a lot of time without even realizing it. So, if you want to be more punctual, the answer might be to give yourself a little bit less time and then use that time more efficiently.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU CAN’T HELP RUNNING LATE

Now, what happens if you do end up running late for an appointment, work, etc.? Sometimes, no matter how efficiently you plan your day, you’re going to run into obstacles that you can’t avoid. Once you’re in that situation, and you know that you’re going to be late, getting stressed out isn’t going to help you at all.

Running late can happen any day, but you don't have to let it stress you out. Try these tips to help you become more punctual and less stressed.

In bygone eras, if you weren’t going to make it to an important meeting or if you were going to be several minutes late, you basically had no choice but to wait and make your apologies when you arrived. Today, though, we have smartphones, watches, and other devices on us at all times. We can check traffic before we leave the house, and we can use hands-free technology to send a text or make a call from the road.

If your kid missed the bus, if a lunch meeting ran late, or if there’s a giant pile-up on the highway, there’s no need to stress or worry. Instead, just call ahead. And when you do, remember the important difference between giving an excuse and giving a reason. Saying, “Traffic is terrible!” won’t go over nearly as well as, “I’m sitting behind a 16-car wreck. My GPS estimates I’ll be there in an hour. Can you work with that, or should we reschedule?”

Everyone runs late sometimes, especially busy entrepreneurs in the midst of starting and running a business. There’s no need to feel stressed or to let that stress stand in your way. Plan your time accordingly and, when the unexpected happens, just call or send a message (hands-free if you’re driving) to let the people you’re meeting with know where you are and what to expect.

Follow this advice and you’ll be on your way to relieving a serious stressor that affects almost every entrepreneur I know!

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