The Cost of Unpunctuality


Do you know someone who always writes “on my way” and is already ten minutes late? Or that always forgets to meet deadlines? I often wonder when did arriving late to meetings, start events past the appointed time, or simply being 'fashionably late' become OK?

More often than non -  in our over-scheduled, overcommitted, super saturated society -  we experience this behavior constantly. However, what people do not realize are the individual and collective negative consequences. When we are late, we show our worst professional skills, lack of emotional intelligence, we create bad impressions and terrible reputations. Being untimely projects that we are disorganized, and that we lack respect for our time and the time of others. 

A few days ago, I had a meeting with an entrepreneur I am advising. Although already late, she called me on two occasions to advise she would arrive late. I reminded her that we had scheduled forty minutes, as I had a later commitment. She tried humoring me, explaining me that the reason for her tardiness was because “she had too many goals, for her limited time”. She also advised me to go late to my next commitment with my best smile. It is pointless to say, I was completely offended and flagger blasted. Does she realize her wrong doing and the effect her behavior will have in the efficiency, effectiveness and consistency of her business?

As I had lost all my words and became mute, my only “come back” was to remind her that a major component of a business rapid growth can be attributed to carefully cultivated partnerships and collaborations. The best way to foster these is by prioritizing on eradicating all the noise that kept her off track to fuel growth, create dream results for her meetings -including a detailed framework of questions and a no-phones-allowed rule.

Tardiness is a terrible virtue. Always consider that being known as untimely and unreliable is negative - and can have severe personal and professional consequences.

My simple and practical techniques to promote punctuality:

1. Arrive 15 to 30 minutes before the engagement. Others will begin to catch and even copy our good behavior. You become the “Master of Punctuality” and believe me, that is a great thing to be. 

2. If you have a meeting, and the guest arrive is late - only provide the person the time remaining in the scheduled time. This will make others eradicate the habit of being late and is a form of self respect. 

3. Do not change your agenda for the “unpunctual”. If the first person you meet is running late, make sure to adjust and continue your day as planned. Do not look bad, because others make you look bad.

4. Organize days ahead. If you must submit a presentation in seven days, strategize and make an analysis of how many hours it will take you. Set a goal to have it ready for one day ahead of the deadline. Then, try scheduling the hours of work you need to complete the task in the days or weeks leading up to it, so you can easily finish it before the set date.

5. The night before – have at the door, on your bag or in the car, everything you need for the next day. Go through the following day in details and assemble all the things you will need. Don't just trust your mind. If you are super busy, you might forget something and be delayed the next morning right before getting out the door.

6. Separates time between commitments for calls, emergencies, traffic, lack of parking - the daily events or surprises which, on average, take 20% of our days.

Remember that time is the most important human capital we have - it is worth a lot and we need to capitalize on it. The key is to be organized and remember the impression we can make on others.



EnglishCristina Hermida