Etiquette Expert Ellen Reddick explains the importance of punctuality and shares five ways to beat the clock.
Being on time matters. 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.
Punctuality shows mastery
Being on time consistently shows everyone around you that you are the master of your life. It demonstrates foresight — the ability to predict possible hang-ups — and adaptability — the ability to change your plans to accommodate those hang-ups.
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, tells the people around you that you can handle whatever is thrown at you.
Punctuality shows integrity
Punctuality is also a trust issue. When you make an appointment, you are making a commitment 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.
Punctuality shows you value people
People are busy — too busy to be waiting on you while their other work goes unfinished. Being punctual shows, clearly and truly, that you value their time and, by extension, that you value them as a person. It says, “Let’s make this time we’ve arranged as productive as possible so we can both get on with all our other important stuff.”
Punctuality shows you value yourself
Finally, being on time shows you value your time — and yourself. First of all, being repeatedly late is a self-destructive behavior — why else would you risk not landing the big client, losing your job, or insulting those around you? And everyone knows that most self-destructive behavior follows from low self-esteem. Even if it’s not true, that’s the perception you’re allowing others.
If you’re perpetually late, it’s time to stop — right now, not 10 minutes from now. Consider the message you’re sending to those around you, and consider the message you’d like to be sending, and act immediately to match those two up.
FIVE WAYS TO BEAT THE CLOCK AND BE ON TIME:
1. Schedule the event into your calendar.
If you block out time to be somewhere then you won’t be doing something else when it’s time to go. I amazed myself when I tried to do this. I discovered I had enough on my schedule to last 48 hours a day. It would have been impossible for me to be on time for anything.
2. Practice saying what you need to say.
Here’s a great thing to say: “Excuse me, I hate to cut you off, but I have an appointment.” It is hard to cut someone off, but they will respect you for sticking to a schedule. The higher up you go in corporate life, the stricter the people stick to a schedule. The good news is that this means it’s perfectly acceptable in work life to say this short speech. Get comfortable doing it at work and then you can do it at home, too. Often saying no takes forethought and practice.
3. Be a time pessimist.
Assume everything will take a little longer than your first estimate. This will either make you right on time for everything, or it’ll make you a little early. People who run early are calm, organized, and always ready. Not a bad place to be.
Some people are late because they simply don’t have enough time to do everything. The only way to change this is to stop doing so much. Face the reality that you cannot get your whole list done. Figure out what’s most important and just get that done. Tell the people who depend on you – like your boss — that you can only do what you have time for, and things at the bottom of the their list of priorities will not get done: a reality check for everyone in your life.
5. Be honest with yourself.
Why do you let yourself be late? It is disrespectful and makes you look unorganized and out of control. Why are you not getting control over your time. So much about being on time is actually about self-knowledge. Often, we are scared to make the decisions that we must make in order to get control over our time and become someone who runs on schedule. But there is no other way to run a life. To run on schedule is to plan the life you want to live and execute that plan.
How can you fix the problem? Being honest with yourself goes a long way in the late arena. Once I was late to dinner and someone at the table said to me, “You must be a time optimist.” I had no idea what he was talking about. But then he explained that most people are late because they are too optimistic about how quickly they can do things – which is a nice way of saying that people are late because they are not honest with themselves about how long things really take. So if you really want to be on time, you will start being a better judge of how much time tasks really take – and you will add some time to each estimate.
Ellen Reddick is the co-founder of Impact Factory Utah and Elite Business Communications, Inc. Salt Lake City based companies specializing in training, consulting and coaching in business professionalism and communications.
Ellen is a well know Executive and Corporate Consultant who works with executives and corporations to help identify and assess developmental opportunities for both organizations and individuals. Her unique, practical and powerful strategies make her easy to talk to and her vast corporate background helps her coach high-potential individuals and those requiring new skills to enhance their leadership competencies. Her business experience is varied and extensive including Director for Fairchild Telecommunications International and the national Quality & Process Improvement Director for Lucent Technologies.
She is also a noted author of several business books and articles. Her books include The Art of Professionalism in Our Lives and The Complete Job Search Handbook. She currently writes a monthly column for The Enterprise Newspaper and participates in several business blogs.
Ellen can be reached at: (801) 581-0269 or www.impactfactoryutah.com.