Do you regularly find yourself running five minutes (or more) behind? Are you habitually dashing into meetings after everyone else has already sat down? If so, you potentially have a professional issue that could be undermining your career. A consistent pattern of tardiness says that you aren’t as prepared or organized as you could be. Additionally, it sends the message that you are not respectful of other people’s time. Being on time (in the least) or 5-10 minutes early (as the norm) plays a role in your image at the office.
Who would you rather work with – a frenzied professional who consistently races the clock, rushing in with cheeks flushed and papers flying, blaming traffic and his or her busy schedule, or the one who is calmly sitting there when you arrive, ready to get down to business?
Consider my tips below to transform your tardiness habit into one of punctuality and avoid being late:
1) Shift your focus. For the chronically tardy, change begins with an attitude adjustment. Make punctuality a priority rather than an occasional coincidence. Keep the clock in your crosshairs as you move through the day. If necessary, write down your entire daily schedule and allot time for each task – following it closely until it becomes routine.
2) Factor in a margin for error. There will undoubtedly be a time when you are legitimately late, from an unexpected traffic jam to a broken subway car. Whenever possible, allow yourself a cushion to avoid the stress of having to make excuses for your late intrusion. Plan on getting to work or meetings at least 10 minutes early to give yourself time to settle in, get a drink of water and prepare talking points.
3) Punctuality requires planning ahead. Fill your gas tank, pack your briefcase, shine your shoes and charge your cell phone the night before. Put your keys where you will find them and be ready to walk out the door with your purse, briefcase and travel cup of coffee in hand.
4) Be realistic about how long a task will take you. It’s always better to overestimate than underestimate your time. A short memo can take 15 seconds or 15 minutes but if someone is waiting for you, it is best to over budget your time.
5) Avoid overbooking yourself. Be realistic about your daily schedule and the amount of time you are available to realistically commit to a task, volunteer project or fundraising event. When scheduling an appointment, do not assume everyone else will be running on time. For example, do not set up a meeting for immediately after a doctor’s appointment — most doctors notoriously run late, you will be too.
Simply put, you owe it to yourself, your clients, your family and your friends to respect their time by arriving when you say you will arrive, fully focused and not distracted by other demands. A punctual person is a person that shows good time management skills and displays that she pays attention to small (and large) details. Arriving on time is certainly a good habit worth cultivating!
Yours in Punctuality,