A study conducted in 2007 in the US found that 15%-20% of the population is consistently late. Unfortunately, if you change the time to present-day or geography to a place of your choosing, the outlook would as bleak now as it was then. In fact, if a similar study were to be conducted in/for India, chances are that those numbers are going to be decidedly worse! We all have a friend, who, when he doesn’t show up on time, is in the habit of saying that he was on ”Indian Standard Time”. If there is one takeaway we want to have from this article, it is this: Not being on time always casts you in an unfavorable light, and is not something you want to say with anything resembling pride.
Here are just some of the things that it (not showing up on time) signals about you:
- You have self-control problems and not just that, it can also signal that perhaps you are not competent enough to handle a project if you are not on top of your own time.
- You are inconsiderate toward other people (those whom you have kept waiting). By not showing up on time, you are telling them that you don’t value their time, and by extension them.
- You are going to feel flustered because you made everybody wait on your account. And unless you are someone with a rock-solid composure, your insecurity is going to spill over in your interactions.
- You are eventually going to lose customers if you consistently don’t show up on time and can even have an effect on your relationships with other people in your life.
There are several reasons why a person might be late. We will look at some of them here:
- You are someone who likes the adrenaline rush that comes from cutting it too close. Nothing spring you into action like a looming crisis.
- You are someone who is disorganised. You can never find clean clothes to wear, or the documents you need to get into a meeting or you suddenly remembers on the morning of an important meeting that your car is at the dealership!
- You are someone who lacks conscientiousness and have made a habit of taking others for granted.
Even if you do fall into one of these categories, there is a cause for optimism. We are going to give you ten tips that will allow you to be punctual and improve your time management for your next important meeting, and the one after that.
- Make showing up on time a priority: The first step to solving any problem is recognizing that there is a problem. And when you have got to that state, the next step is to remind yourself that it isn’t an endearing quality but it is having an adverse effect on your relationships, both personal and professional.
- Ensure that you know your motives well: One definite way to make a habit stick is to have total clarity on why you would like to build the habits. The more/stronger the reasons you have for wanting to adopt the habit, the more likely it is that you will be able to make the new habit stick.
For example, you can write that down on the sticky notes and read them a few times a day:
- If I am on time, I will be able to eliminate the stress I go through every time I am late
- If I am on time, I will be able to mend my relationships with my coworkers and my friends alike
- If I am on time, I will signal to my boss that I am someone he can count on, potentially leading to promotion even
- Estimate the effort it takes to accomplish tasks: One thing that’s common across people who are chronically and consistently late is that they have trouble determining how long it takes them to perform different tasks. They could think, for example, that takes them less than five minutes to iron a shirt, when the reality is that it takes them a lot longer. There is no shame in admitting if this sounds like you. You can do the following to get a more realistic estimate of the actual amount the tasks take vs. how much you think they do.
- Create a list of tasks you need to accomplish in the morning, for instance. This list should also include the tasks you do on a daily basis.
- Spend a week to ten days carefully documenting the time it takes you for each task. For example washing your face/brushing your teeth/getting dressed etc.
Once you reach the end of these ten days, you will have a much better estimate of the time you need so that you can budget accordingly.
- Use a timer: Knowing how much time it takes is only half the battle. The next step is to actually adhere to those times. Use a time (alarm clock on your phone, for example) to keep you on your toes.
- Master the art of saying no: Saying ‘no’ doesn’t just apply to saying it to other people, it is just as important to say ‘no’ to yourself. That is the only way to ensure that you don’t end up with too much on your plate. It is better to say ‘no’ to something and do four things on time than to say ‘yes’ to something and mess up your existing schedule.
As we talked in an earlier article, take a careful look at your to-do list and ruthlessly cross out anything that’s not a priority. Make sure you are brutally honest with yourself when it comes to what you can realistically accomplish during a day.
- Allow yourself some time buffer: Regardless of the level of preparation, there are certain events that cannot be predicted (remember when you got a flat tire when you were five minutes away from the most important meeting of your life!). There is so much that go could go wrong— from you (or much worse your barista) spilling coffee on your shirt to a detour you had to take! One habit that separates people who are punctual from those who are not is that punctual people not just give themselves the amount of time they need to do a specific task, they also budget for such unforeseeable events, in case something were to go south!
- Change your outlook about being early: It is almost considered conventional wisdom that people who are important keep others waiting. This is clearly absurd! Showing up on time is not only a sign that you respect others’ time but also signals that you have exemplary time-management skills, and aren’t these the character traits of people you, yourself, respect?. And trust us people are going to take notice! But, when in doubt always remind yourself: “Important people are always punctual!”
- Set up reminders: Set up reminder for meetings (multiple reminder for the important ones!) an hour/half-hour/fifteen minutes before you have to leave. If you have taken to the digital age, like we have, we suggest using a calendar/reminder app for example, Google Calendar.
When you feel you are prepared, you tend to be the best you you can be! Showing up on time signals to others, as well as to yourself that you have finally arrived, no pun intended, of course.