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Punctuality: More Than Showing Up on Time

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When you think of what values you seek from co-workers, colleagues, and clients, punctuality is probably one that wouldn’t immediately come to mind. Being web workers, parents, co-workers, spouses and just about every other role you can imagine, we have many demands for our attention and sometimes these time frames overlap.

Being punctual shows those with whom you interact that:

  • You care.  Being on time shows you give importance to the meeting or task you’ve agreed to.
  • You’re competent.  If you’re late to a meeting or function, your client will wonder about your ability to complete the potential task that you two are meeting about.
  • You’re accountable.  If you are consistently late, you will have a more difficult developing trust in those who want to interact with you.  When you arrive behind schedule, the person may be harboring an instant grudge against your tardiness, whether they visibly show it or not.

Now that we’ve established the reasons that punctuality is necessary and can be an edge in business, how do you ensure you’ll be on time on a more regular basis?

Focus: Time management is a reflection of the rest of your life.  Therefore, it’s important to only focus on things that are of value to you.  If you agree to take a meeting only because you’re being “nice” and don’t want to say no; re-visit this line of thinking.  Keep in mind that your time is valuable, no matter if it’s spent on items for business or pleasure.

Build in a buffer:  Competent time managers know that tasks often take more time than you initially predict.  Build in buffer when you agree to a deadline or milestone.  This is also important when forecasting how much time it will take to get to a meeting.  For example, expect traffic and plan accordingly.

Leave Reminders: If forgetfulness is an issue, leave post-it notes in your car, on the coffee maker, anywhere that will be obvious to you to remind you of upcoming events.

Don’t Allow the Little Things to Get In the Way:  If your gas tank is almost empty, fill it.  Having to stop to fill up the tank on the way to a meeting, it will most likely make you late.  If you need to drop mail off at the post office, do it when you’re not en route to a scheduled event.

Being an effective time manager requires you to be honest with yourself about your limitations and abilities.

How do you ensure punctuality?

4 Responses to “Punctuality: More Than Showing Up on Time”

  1. michael

    Chronic lateness is a serious personality flaw. Those with very low self-esteem will often force others to wait on them simply as a (albeit pathetic) form of control.

  2. sondrasondra

    Interesting post, Jason. I have to agree — punctuality is not the sexiest attribute but boy does this one come home to roost if you don’t practice it. My well-educated, seasoned CPA friend “Bob” was just fired from his 2nd job in a year due to chronic lateness. It sounds absolutely ridiculous but sadly for him, it’s true. His last position wasn’t even one where daily punctuality was critical — but his lateness communicated exactly what you note above – questions of competency or that you just don’t give a shit about the company and your responsibilities. So during his “probationary period” they gave him the boot.
    For me, being on time when it comes to business is hardwired into my nervous system — which is a good and bad thing. Anxiety always gets me there on time, but I have to experience the anxiety.
    But don’t ask my friends about how punctual I am for afterwork drinks — I’m always late.