The Crash Test Technique: How to Be on Time Every Time


Do you wish you were on time every time at work, even with a messy morning?

Think about the benefits. For example, your colleagues would see you as someone reliable. They would trust you more. And it would also help to lift your mood, as this would be your first achievement of the day!

Unfortunately, life is not so neat. There will be times when you leave your house too late. And you will stumble on roadblocks while commuting.

How can you be on time in spite of such messy mornings? Let’s find out with the crash test technique…

The crash test technique

My punctuality secret is based on a technique I’ve called the Crash Test Technique.

You know what is a crash test, right? When a car manufacturer wants to place a new car model on the market, it needs to make the model approved by the appropriate authorities.

This involves doing a battery of accreditation tests on the car. In particular, a frontal shock test is carried out.

In the hood of the car, there’s a crushable zone called the crumple zone. Thanks to a controlled deformation, it absorbs the energy of the impact, which makes it more likely the occupant is unharmed.

Crushable time buffers

Well, we’ll use the same technique here. In order to avoid being late, we’ll set “crushable” time-buffers just before work.

This is not about arriving 15 minutes earlier each day, otherwise, it would consume your personal time. And I believe it’s important to have a great work-life balance. What we will do is use the buffer times for your personal development and well-being.

As an example, I’ll explain how I’ve been using the technique for many years while I was commuting to work (for information: right now, I’m not commuting anymore since I’ve switched to remote work).

The crash test technique in practice

So I’ve been going to work by bicycle for more than 10 years. I was lucky enough to get this possibility since I was leaving about 5km from my work and the weather is nice most of the time here in Mauritius.

On my commute, I had mainly four time-buffers:

1st time-buffer: my bicycle ride

There was 2 paths I could take:

  • Either a longer path, with a lot of vegetation and small traffic. This was my favorite option.
  • Or a shorter, more direct but unpleasant path, with a lot of traffic and pollution.

So, that was the first time-buffer: either take the longer path if I have time, or the short path if I’m running late.

2nd time-buffer: the gym

My second time-buffer was the gym, as I was going to the gym just before work.

I was lucky because the gym was within walking distance of my office building. So I had this habit of working out for 20 minutes before work. Then I took my shower. And then I walked to go to work.

This was the second time-buffer. If I was running late, I could save 20 minutes by entering the gym and go straight to the shower: no exercise.

Of course, this would get a laugh by the regulars as I was basically using the gym as a shower on those days. But it was very effective to save time when needed.

3rd time-buffer: going from the gym to my office

The 3rd time buffer was the distance between the gym and my office building.

So if I had time, I would go by foot, as I like to walk. But if was late, I would go there directly by bicycle.

Once again, I was lucky here because I could park my bicycle at the gym the whole day without any problem in order to go to my office by foot.

4th time-buffer: the stairs

Then, when I arrived at the office building, I would typically take the stairs to go to my office.

My company was on the 8th floor. So it was taking me about 4–5 minutes to take the stairs. And here again, as you have guessed, I could save the time by taking the lift instead.

Thanks to all these time buffers, I would arrive on time at work every time. And it was important to me because I was working as a team leader. Which means I had to set the right example.

Getting started

As you can see, I had many opportunities for time-buffers at the time. And you might not think right away of options that could fit yours. So you might like to get creative about it.

For example, one of my readers was taking the subway to go to work each day. How could he add a time-buffer on his journey to work?

Well, he had the idea of getting out of the subway one station before. Then he would walk the remaining distance to his office. This was good for him to have some exercise time each morning.

So each day, he built the habit of exercising by getting out of the subway one station before. And if he was late, he would go straight to the closest station to his office.

As you can see, there are solutions if you think about it. And I hope you will find one that suits you.


Being consistently on time to work has lots of virtues, such as building trust and starting the day in a good mood.

If you are used to being late for work, you can use the Crash Test Technique to be on time more consistently. It relies on time-buffers that you cleverly set in your commuting route to work. You can choose to crash a number of them to gain time when you are running late.

With this technique, it’s possible to arrive consistently on time at work, even when you are having a messy morning. This could also be used for various other types of appointments.

Featured photo by Wikimedia Foundation

About the author 

Alex Philippe

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