I bet you can tell me, right now, who is going to be late to your next meeting.
Is it you?
We all know who will be late to our next meeting. Why? Not because we are fortune tellers, but because it is always the same individuals.
- Do you have a reputation for being late?
- Does your lateness impact your personal and professional relationships?
- Do you have friends that you know not to wait for?
- Do you have colleagues that you always have to restart meetings for?
Why are the same people always late?
Late is Acceptable
Why do we tolerate this in our society? It has become acceptable or at least passable. After all, everyone is so busy, right?
Do you work in a company where everyone is habitually late? What does this say about your company and its culture?
I recently observed a group of business persons at an airport waiting to board their flight. They start joking about which colleague would be the last to arrive for the plane. It turned into a betting game, but the team quickly found out that they all had selected the same person to be late for the trip.
It suddenly wasn’t a fun game since they all had the same answer. So, instead they started betting on whether this individual was going to miss the plane and by how much.
Is this you?
How Lateness Impacts Your Life
In today’s hurried world, people underestimate the impact lateness has upon their lives. For many, it is such the norm that they do not feel any guilt about time and money they cost others due to their lateness. Nor do they consider the negative impacts that lateness brings to their lives.
Here are just a few:
- Self-inflicted Stress – Those that are always late are usually running around like their hair is on fire. Doesn’t sound fun to me. Yet, these individuals are so accustomed to it, they have forgotten about the stress they are self-inflicting.
- Damaged Reputation – Do others take the person who never shows up on time seriously? It starts to affect relationships when others are repeatedly forced to restart meetings after 15-20 minutes. If you think lateness does not negatively impact your reputation, you need think again. Or maybe ask your co-workers.
- Penalties – If you are constantly late, you are probably familiar with late fees, additional costs, and missed planes. There is a cost, often monetary, to being late. Do you pay more for your lateness?
- Missed Opportunities – Being late might cause you to miss the train or the plane, but it will also cause you to miss opportunities. In both business and life, you are letting opportunities leave without you if you are constantly late.
How to Avoid Being Late
If you are constantly late, it will take a change of perspective for you to make punctuality a regular part of your routine.
Here are some tips to get you on the path:
- Be Prepared – If you are running ragged and do not know when and where you are suppose to be, then you are destined for failure. Staying on top of your calendar and appointments is a prerequisite for being on time.
- Don’t Over-commit – An obvious one, but if you cannot make it to all of your obligations on time, you probably have too many. Say “No” when appropriate. You have the same amount of time in the day as everyone else. Do not take on obligations, that you know in advance, you will not be able to keep.
- The Power of Early – Busy people say they don’t have time to be early. They think it takes more time. However, the secret of being early is that it actually creates more time for you. Try it, you might like it.
- Allow Some Extra Time – As part of being early, make sure you leave extra time to arrive at appointments. Buffer time is key to ensure that traffic and other unforeseen events do not derail you. In a job situation, who do you think will get the job, the person who arrived on time or the one who got stuck in traffic?
- Be Realistic – With many companies running by Outlook today, how can you make a 10 o’clock meeting if you are in one that lasts from 9-10? Unless you have a teleporter or something. Do not create unrealistic back-to-back meetings. I have witnessed executives, who by the end of their day are 60-90 minutes behind schedule on their meetings.
- Have a Coach – We let ourselves off easy when it comes to accountability. Ask a friend or colleague to hold you accountable to showing up on time. You will probably be surprised at the initial amount of feedback you get.
Don’t Underestimate Lateness
Don’t think that being late does not impact you. Whether it is late fees, damaged relationships, or a soiled reputation, being late brings consequences.
Commit yourself to being on time or early. You will find that you have reduced your stress while getting more done at the same time.
How does being late affect you or someone you know?