As recently as a few years ago, I was known for being late. You could count on me to be tardy for every appointment, phone call, wedding, funeral or visit with girlfriends. In fact, my Mom would often joke that I was going to be late for my own funeral. The reason I was late was because I despised waiting around. Therefore, I would allow just enough time to get dressed or dial in for a call or whatever. What I didn’t account for was traffic, technology issues or even a moose crossing the road (Yes that really happened.)
What I was failing to realize is that my tardiness was extremely inconsiderate. In fact, it was downright selfish. When someone gave me a taste of my own elixir and had the gall to be late, I was NOT a happy girl. I read a book, The Dark Side Of The Light Chasers, and realized that I was seeing in the late comer what was really my own characteristic. In reality, I was not showing the world my brilliance as the people I affected were stuck on the fact that I was perpetually late. I was not valuing other people’s time as I was valuing my own.
We are all in this life game together. Let’s be respectful of others. And let’s face it, being late is rarely acceptable. Young Professional, you just don’t know if your future boss, future mate, or potential new friend will view you based on your punctuality. That’s not what we want others to see. Arriving late, often finds one in a harried state, with beads of sweat and the inability to think clearly about making a good impression. Don’t let that happen to you.
Here are a few tricks to help with punctuality in the modern world:
1. Be the mirror you need. Every day for a week, write down your tasks and responsibilities and how much time it will take. Include things like showering, eating, workouts, driving etc. Use notes or tracking app to record the actual time it takes. Is it what you expected? You should have a better idea of how long it takes to get presentable for any occasion. Below is a link I’ve attached that can assist in tracking time.
2. Plan like you forgot your cell phone. Remember the day you forgot your cell at home and you felt naked all day? Plan your time like you have to run back for your mobile. It will allot for time if you run into unanticipated trouble like traffic or weather woes. Modern etiquette says that you should plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to start time of any event. Another consideration is parking, long lines and registration for example. Plan for at least 15-20 minutes for these pre-event tasks in addition to the 15 minute early arrival time.
3. Gather the essentials. When I was younger, my Grandmother used to harp on us to put everything you need by the door so you can just grab it on the way out. Using that same concept, you can apply that concept in preparation of any event. For a conf. call, place your notes, pens, paper, devices, dial-in # by your phone or tablet. For a social event, pick out attire and shoes and accessories a few hours before leaving so there is no possible tardiness. For an event, place anything that you need in a bag or container and place it by the door so you can grab and go.
4. Burning the candle. If stringing multiple events together, start to think about the timing for the next event about 30-45 min before leaving. Is it in good favor to let the host know that you are departing? Be sure you belongings are in one place. Double check that nothing is a stray so you don’t have to come back unnecessarily.
As a general rule, a Young Professional, should strive to learn new and improved skills that bring us to a place closer to showing our best selves. Being on time shows fellow humans that you take an interest in their time and ideas and you value their efforts and time. You will become known as more credible and organized professional. By changing your habits you just might find that people will be more willing to ask you for your expertise, consider you for projects or jobs and want to find out more about you. All this can lead to BIG opportunities. You may also learn that you don’t need all that extra lateness “noise” in your life.