In both business and life constantly being late is not a laughable quirk. Not only can you affect your own job security, but you’re also affecting those around you. If you’re 3 minutes late for a meeting you’re making the people waiting for you 3 minutes behind, which leads to rushing through ideas and problems. Outside of work, being late for dinner with friends can make them irritated at you then when it comes to a time when you need them they’ll be annoyed enough not to be there.
I believe there are a few parts of being late. Obviously there could be extraneous circumstances, such as vehicle accidents. But beyond that I think there are several personal issues to a person who is continually late. First, is a lack of a sense of time. They will be working on something, reading, watching TV, etc, and suddenly its later than they thought. Second is lack of respect for other people. They don’t take into consideration how other people will be affected by their lateness. It may be an embarrassing moment when they arrive late, but there was no forethought into that moment and what others had to do while waiting for them. Third is poor planning. They leave their house 10 minutes before they have to be somewhere that is 10 minutes away, but then realize they need to stop for gas and they hit some construction and can’t find parking. Poor planning leads to them being very late.
There are many excuses for being late, most of them not justifiable. I’ve heard “Sorry we’re late, we have kids, and you know, they take a while to get ready”, but seriously have no sympathy for them. When I was young we were still 10 minutes early to anything because my parents knew enough to have things ready. Just blaming your kids is a lazy way of pushing blame on something other than you. Besides a serious incident that is out of your control, there should be no excuse for lateness.
Just so this post isn’t a pure rant on those who are late, here is what I do to make sure I’m on time.
1. My bedroom alarm clocks (I use two at opposite ends of the room so I have to get up to shut them off) are 15 minutes fast. In the morning when waking up I don’t remember this fact, so I get up and get downstairs 15 minutes before I really need to.
2. My car clock is 7 minutes fast. That way if I’m aiming to be at a location for 3pm I’ll get there with some time to spare.
3. I pack lunches the night before, so in the morning I can take my time. I also get my breakfast out and ready to go, to save those few extra seconds of standing in the kitchen in a morning daze wondering what to get for breakfast.
4. If I have a meeting or appointment at say 10am, I’ll actually write it down in my calendar as 9:45am, so by that day I believe its at 9:45 and have a good chance of being there early.
5. I have a desire, passed down from my parents, to always be early. If you don’t start caring about being early then there is no effort put forth. One idea to get this up and running is to award yourself when you’re early. Maybe on your iPhone have a game that you only allow yourself to play when you are early and sitting in the waiting room.
Planning is the main way to overcome lateness. Take a look at your day and note how and where time is wasted. If you can control your time, then you can plan your day and not be running late constantly.