Are You Always Late?
Updated: Apr 3
If being on time means you prioritize correctly, what does it mean when you are always late? Are you careless, irresponsible, inconsiderate?
Perhaps not in a general sense. But something about the appointment you have, or the thing you are supposed to do is preventing you from making it a priority. And only you know what that might be. Therefore, only you can solve the problem.
Creating Priorities and Making Deals
Keeping your priorities in order can help ensure you arrive on time or meet a deadline. When you know what is important to you, you tend to make positive choices to meet that level of importance.
For instance, you have a personal policy that your family is more important than your work. So instead of working late to finish a project at the office, which would make you an hour late to your mother’s birthday dinner, you make other accommodations for the project and leave work so you can be on time for the special event.
What if something is important, but not a priority? Your boss is having a dinner for a select group of people. You are invited, but can think of several other things you’d rather do with your time.
Not showing up to your boss's gathering in an impressive manner could send a message about the value you place on your work, so you make a deal with yourself. You’ll show up on time and participate, but next week you’ll take an afternoon off and see a movie. After all, you deserve a treat for doing the right thing!
Sometimes, knowing there is a reward involved helps you get where you need to be in a timely manner.
Others Notice When You're Always Late
Whether or not your tardiness affects you negatively or positively (and this is true for some people), it definitely affects other people.
Your coworkers wonder why you're late, and may even bring it to your manager's attention. Or when you arrive late to a dinner, sweeping in with apologies and disrupting the pleasant conversation already in progress – and perhaps the meal as well.
A consistent lack of promptness does not help your reputation with other people. You become associated with descriptions like:
If it becomes too troublesome to be thought of as anything other than a person to be respected, then it is time to figure out how to be on time every time.
How to Be On Time
You know your priorities, you know how to motivate yourself, and you know you want to be reliable. But you still feel you are missing some skills to keep you timely.
Consider adding the following to your efforts of promptness:
Prepare the night before. Are you consistently late for work, or making others in your household late? Prepare meals, homework and other items needed, wardrobe, to-do lists, and transportation needs the night before. This prevents the chaotic scrambling to get everything in order when you should be walking out the door.
Know your own schedule! If you know how long you take in the shower, how long to dry your hair, how long to walk the dog, how long to drive to your destination, etc., then you should have no trouble figuring out how long you need from the time you wake up till the time you need to leave your home. And if you don't know these things, time yourself for a few days so you can get your schedule in order.
Are you dramatic? As I mentioned above, some people thrive on chaos and drama. There is an excitement or adrenaline rush when they're always late. Learn to recognize this if it applies to you and seek help for it. It may be a simple fix like switching to the high of being always on time – there are, after all, advantages to this.
Get organized. Along with preparing ahead of time, keeping organized is a great time saver! When you know where everything is, you know you won't have to spend an extra ten minutes or longer looking for it.
Say "no." We're all busy these days. So if you tend to over-commit yourself and, therefore, your schedule, try saying "no" once in a while. Use your priorities to set a boundary of what you're willing to do or not do. You'll discover there is a sense of freedom that comes from using that little word.
Let's face it: when you're always late, you're always sending a message that builds a negative reputation for yourself. Use these tips and tricks to stay on time. And if you need even more help, find a reliable resource. You're worth it!
Kim Purscell is a licensed etiquette instructor and protocol consultant, an accomplished speaker, and experienced business executive. Ms. Purscell’s passion is to help people move upward in the workplace by improving their professional image, behavior and communication skills; and empower clients to present themselves with power, confidence, and credibility anywhere in the world. Ms. Purscell can be reached at Kim@EtiquetteMatters.us