How to drop the Notorious “Filipino Time” Habit: 5 Tips for Being Punctual

For those who are not aware, January 4 to January 8 is the National Time Consciousness Week (NTCW). This means people are encouraged to be punctual. In our case, we, Filipinos, cannot run on ‘Filipino time.’ READ: DOST Encourages Filipinos to Synchronize Time to PHL Standard Time.

Filipino Time was originally coined for Filipinos arriving later than the set time (sounds familiar?). But, don’t get it twisted as I’m also a statistic! 🙂

However, being with an American partner and an organizer myself, the time became more precious. It was just a matter of discipline for me. In short, we can drop this attitude like a bad habit!

So, let me share some few tips on how you can improve your punctuality this 2016:

How to drop the Notorious “Filipino Time” Habit: 5 Tips for Being Punctual

1. Expect the inevitable

manila traffic

Traffic and weather are inevitable in the Philippines. Regardless of the time, day, weather, traffic is horrible in Metro Manila! Therefore, leave earlier as usual. For example and based on my experience, if your meeting is at 3 PM, Friday, at BGC, I suggest leaving as early as 11:30 AM if you are coming from Paranaque (or anywhere). This way, you are already in the area.

Being optimistic like this, could save you from wasting a lot of time.

2. Being early is NOT a waste of time

Do not think that being there an hour earlier (or even 1.5 hours earlier) a waste of time. In fact, according to, 5 minutes early is ON TIME.

A Psychologist friend told me that, it is common for everyone to hate the idea of waiting, like waiting for your turn, waiting for a response, just to name a few. So we deliberately think that if we arrive early, you’re wasting a lot of time. No! Being early means you have control over your time and you can still roam around. Perhaps, treat it like your long overdue, me-time.

pine sol me time

Studies show that listening to music helps release anxieties and stress hormones. So, just savor the moment!

3. Plan Your Schedule

Planning is an integral part of being punctual. When you don’t plan accordingly, your whole schedule will be compromised. So make it a habit of planning your daily, weekly, or even monthly activities if you are that type of person. In fact, “Plan” is my one word for the year. I messed up a lot of times last year and don’t want to carry that over this year. Therefore, if you want to keep intact, use a planner to plan your schedule effectively and efficiently.

4. Try to re-estimate how long tasks will take

Always envision what’s going to happen. Call me delusional, but always think of the consequences. A good example is during the APEC week. My friend and I went out just to review a restaurant. We could’ve prevented being trapped in the traffic by estimating the time of the road closures, etc.

In addition, we always want to do this “one more thing” gesture. As explained in the article by, oftentimes, we think it’s still early, so we do one more thing – eat first, buy something for pasalubong (Filipino tradition of bringing something home) or get gas first. While you can actually do these things, try to guesstimate the time you will be spending so that you won’t be late.

5.Know your Priorities

Lastly, know your priorities. Truthfully, most of can’t say ‘no’ to invitations. While there’s nothing wrong with that -since it’s our innate culture to accommodate everyone, knowing your priorities is imperative. Always think of your credibility as a person. If you really cannot accommodate due to your busy schedule, say so. This way, you are giving others an opportunity to use their time wisely. Moreover, always aim for a win-win situation.

Personally, try it for this week in observance of the National Time Consciousness Week. This could be a good practice for everyone to be punctual.

Always aim to be on time, because time is of the essence.

So, tell us your ways to improve punctuality in the comment section below!