For some people punctuality can be a major challenge. While occasional lateness is understandable in extenuating circumstances, a chronic lack of punctuality can negatively impact your personal relationships, your reputation and even your job and livelihood. Consider what impression people (including employers) get of someone who is habitually late. They think he/she is irresponsible, careless, undisciplined, rude, inconsiderate, self-centred, disorganized, unconscientious, and do not value them or their time. Is this the opinion we want people to have of us?
Not only does it affect those who are left waiting, it also affects you, the latecomer, in a negative way. How do you feel when you are late for an important engagement? Flustered? Insecure? Unprepared? If you are late for a job interview you cannot present your best self and have already put yourself at a major disadvantage.
The good news is tardiness is not a personality trait, it is a bad habit, and like any bad habit it can be kicked. It is possible to go from being a ‘latenik’ to an ‘early bird’. It essentially boils down to two things: attitude adjustment and time management. Here are some tips to do just that.
- The first step to change is acknowledging that you have a punctuality problem that reflects badly on your character, stop blaming external factors and commit to personal improvement. Some self-examination is necessary. Ask yourself, why am I always late? And be honest. Perhaps you consider arriving exactly at the appointed time to be punctual and need to instead consider ‘on time’ to be 10 mins early.
- Are you a tidsoptimist – a person who is habitually late because they think they have more time than they do? Many people are late because they have trouble correctly estimating how long certain tasks take to complete. You may think that it takes you 15 minutes to drive from point A to point B without ever having actually timed it. Make a list of tasks you need to complete before you get to your destination, for example, showering, getting dressed, driving there. Track the time it takes to complete each and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that you allow yourself enough time to do them and get to your appointment on time.
- Once you know how long a task should take, use a timer so you don’t spend more than the allotted time on it. That way you won’t get carried away daydreaming in the shower. This also helps if you are easily distracted.
- Forgetfulness often goes hand in hand with lateness. If you are prone to memory lapses be proactive and set up multiple reminders on your electronic devices the day before, an hour before, and 15 mins before.
- Remember the motto ‘Be Prepared’? It doesn’t only apply to Boy Scouts. Advance preparation is the key to using your time efficiently. Choose and lay out your clothing, pack your bag/briefcase, decide and prep breakfast the night before. With fewer tasks to accomplish there is a better chance of leaving on time. Remember to also put your keys by the door so you don’t spend an extra 10 minutes searching for them when it is time to leave.
- Don’t try to do too much and end up over-scheduling yourself. Prioritize, be realistic and allow a buffer of time between tasks.
- Give yourself a safety net by allowing more time that you think is necessary to complete a task. If your drive should take 20 mins, give yourself an extra 15 minutes to allow for unexpected delays.
- Do you hate being early because you don’t like to wait or are nervous about what to do with yourself if you are too early? Plan what you will do with the extra time whether it is reading, checking email, going over notes or simply doing mindful breathing so that you are relaxed and composed for your interview/appointment.
Once you have made a consistent improvement in your punctuality people will definitely see you as more reliable and responsible and you will feel less stressed, and more relaxed. And who knows, you just might get that promotion.