Did you know that 20% of Americans are chronically late? My motto is five minutes early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable.  Have you ever been in a meeting that does not begin on time because of that one person who is always late? This problem is frustrating and can throw off your whole schedule.

There is a reason for set times in meetings and for deadlines.  Can you imagine what it would be like if everyone was late and no one met deadlines?  It would create an atmosphere of chaos.  Arriving late tells others you do not value their time.  If a meeting begins at 8 am, some people feel like they can come anywhere in the general vicinity of 8, such as 8:15 or 8:30.

Psychologist Linda Sapadin, Ph.D., author of Master Your Fears says, “You’re creating a reputation for yourself, and it’s not the best reputation to be establishing. People feel they can’t trust you or rely on you, so it impacts relationships. It also affects self-esteem.” Although a person may think it cute to arrive late and be on their own time, people won’t trust you to get things done.  Being late indicates to others that you don’t have self-control and projects incompetence. There are 24 hours in every day and no matter who you are, your time is not more important than anyone else’s time.

Being punctual demonstrates responsibility, respect for others and discipline. You have the margin to adapt as things come up.  Punctuality also shows competence and integrity.  Being on time tells others that you value their time.  Remember that “Someone is always on the other side of your thoughtlessness.”

Why are some people always punctual and others habitually late? My theory is that the people who are always late, plan it that way.

The “Late Person’s” Plan

They do not make being on time a priority.

Solution: The first step is to acknowledge that you have a punctuality problem and then learn to put others first. Do what is important & keep your commitments.  Master your calendar and schedule your day realistically.

They underestimate how much time it takes to get things done.

Solution: Start by being honest with yourself and plan for success. Arrive 15 minutes early for any scheduled meeting to allow for hang-ups: traffic, phone calls, etc.  Take a week to track your tasks.  Example:  Do you allow yourself 30 minutes to get ready in the morning, but it takes you almost an hour?  You may need to set your alarm and begin to get up 30 minutes earlier.

They are disorganized.

Solution: Plan ahead. Prepare for the next morning. Get up thirty minutes before your usual time.  Get completely ready before having breakfast or browsing social media.  Have all items in one place ready to go:  keys, lunch, or other items.

They have no margin.

Solution: Do not schedule to fail!  Master your calendar by scheduling your day.  Keep meetings to the set time and give yourself margin during the day.   No one’s day goes 100% as planned- this is why having margin is so important.  Leave 20% of your day open for the unexpected.

They have a disease to please.

Solution:  Have you ever heard of “the disease to please”?  Stop saying “yes” to everything you are asked to avoid burnout. Time is more valuable than money.  You can make more money, but you can’t make more time.

When you are late, it communicates a lot about you that is negative. Take steps to make a change today!