Being punctual matters, at least in today’s western societies. Being on time, every time conveys far more than just a good sense of timing. It tells people that you’re on top of things, that you’re organized, that you can be counted on, that you value them, and, ultimately, that you value yourself.
On the other hand, being late all the time shows that you’re incapable of anticipating possible problems and either dealing with them or altering your course to avoid them. It sends the message that you’re harassed by time, not in control of it.
It’s important to see being on time as part of your whole attitude towards time. You’re never going to be on time, every time — whether for appointments, meeting big deadlines, or even to catch a movie — if you haven’t put into practice a set of good time management techniques.
It seems obvious that to be on time you have to know where you have to be and when, but it’s a step a lot of people try to skip — they want to hold everything in their heads.
Why should you be on time?
1. Punctuality shows competence
Someone who shows, over and over, that they are the master of their time is someone who will be taken seriously in areas far removed from time management. That foresight and adaptability that gets you where you need to be when you need to be there, tell the people around you that you can handle whatever is thrown at you.
2. Shows integrity
Punctuality is also a trust issue. When you make an appointment, you are committing to be where you said you’d be when you said you’d be there. The only way you build up other people’s trust in you is by consistently meeting your commitments — and that starts with being punctual. The person who is always on time is someone others can trust to be as good as their word.
3. Shows you value people
People are busy. Being punctual shows, clearly and truly, that you value their time and, by extension, that you value them as a person.
4. Shows you value yourself
Being on time shows you value your time — and yourself. In fact, punctuality shows that your time is too valuable to waste stuck in traffic, on the phone dealing with trivial matters, or otherwise occupied in anything other than the business at hand.
Being late demonstrates, plainly and clearly, that you’re interruptible, that your work is never as high a priority as whatever trivial thing comes along, and that you’re unwilling to set priorities in your own life. If that’s the case, why should anyone else care about your time?
10 Ways to make yourself more punctual
1. Commit to being on time.
The first step to becoming more punctual is recognizing that you need to. If you don’t believe that being on time matters, then you’ll be less likely to stick with the goals you set. You probably have external motivators for being on time—like not getting fired, perhaps.
2. Time yourself.
To plan your day out, you need to know how long your regular tasks actually take. Many people are late because they underestimate how long certain tasks take them.
Timing yourself will help you to understand how much time you really need, but also help you recognize areas where you might be spending too much time.
If you find it takes you longer than you expected to get ready in the morning, and there isn’t much wiggle room to cut back on that time, then you’ll probably need to start getting up earlier.
3. Set up the night before.
Lay out your clothes, put on your keys, wallet, etc. In tomorrow’s pants pockets or your purse, load up your bag with whatever material you’ll need in the morning, put your lunch together, and so on. In the morning, wake up, get dressed, grab your stuff, and go.
4. Set reminders.
Use your calendar program’s built-in reminder function or use a service like the Habitomic app to send you text reminders at set intervals before each appointment.
5. Schedule events for “off-peak” times.
Learn the times that traffic or other factors might make you late and avoid scheduling during those times. For instance, give yourself at least an hour to get settled in every morning before your first meeting (so if you’re late to work, you won’t also be late for a meeting), and don’t schedule meetings immediately after lunch (in case you get held up), avoid before-working-hours events (due to rush hour traffic), etc.
6. Don’t check your email or voicemail right before you leave.
That “last quick check” will almost always take more time than you think — which is, after all, what you’re hoping for. Always add 25% to your time estimate to get anywhere or do any task. If you think it takes 30 minutes to get to work, give yourself 40.
If you need 12 working hours to finish a proposal, give yourself 15.
7. Learn to stop procrastinating.
If you’re constantly late, then one thing you probably procrastinate on is getting up in the morning. Set your alarm clock to a time that can really accommodate your routine without forcing you to rush, and don’t hit snooze.
8. Know your weaknesses.
If you know that you’re easily distracted by your social media feed in the morning or that you always forget to put gas in your car until it’s time to leave for work, then you can tackle that problem head-on.
Ask yourself what the greatest time-suckers are and find ways to eliminate them.
9. Embrace downtime.
Many people don’t like to be early because they hate the idea of waiting around for others. Instead of seeing downtime as wasted time, take the opportunity to actually get ahead.
While you’re waiting for your appointment or meeting to start, catch up on emails, read industry news, or cross off any other tasks from your to-do list that are relatively simple but still take time, like ordering more supplies or scheduling a meeting with your child’s teacher.
10. Don’t overbook yourself.
Another reason you might be frequently late is that your schedule is too full. This is where the importance of saying no and setting boundaries comes in. If you always say yes to taking on more meetings or projects, then you leave very little room to deal with things that might take longer than planned.
The bottom line:
Being on time matters in both your professional and personal life. It shows that you’re organized, dependable, and respect others’ time. There are some tips to becoming on time that is mentioned above. Use them and be a punctual person.