Today’s post is just a quick hit, but an important one.
It’s about punctuality.
One simple, foolproof way to get ahead in life is by being chronically punctual. Consistent and habitual punctuality is an easy way to stand out from the rest of the world, most of whom are chronically late.
It amazes me how many people are so cavalier about being late. Showing up 5, 10 even 20 minutes late is swept under the carpet with a quick ‘Sorry, I’m late,' like it's no big deal, to be expected.
I have an easy rule of thumb when it comes to working with people, customers, partners, etc.: Show up late - even 1 minute late - and it’s a big strike against you in my books. Not a fatal problem (hey, even I’m late sometimes), but definitely something you’ll need to overcome.
Many other people feel the same way, so make things easy on yourself by being early for every meeting.
Want to make a great impression? Consistently show up 5 minutes early to every appointment.
And the best way to show up 5 minutes early to an appointment? Show up 15 minutes early.
This gives you 15 minutes of cushion for unexpected delays.
How many times have you heard ‘Sorry I’m late - traffic was brutal.'
When is traffic ever not brutal these days? ‘Traffic was brutal’ is not an excuse, it’s a signal of poor planning and a disrespect for others’ time. Of course, there is the odd situation when traffic is so unforeseeably bad that even good planning won’t help, but those situations are rare. Expect a 10-to-15-minute delay every time.
Why are people so chronically late?
One theory is that pushing whatever you’re doing to the last minute in order to force yourself to panic and rush to get to your next appointment is a form of adrenaline rush that we get addicted to over time. From my own personal experience, that’s a theory I can relate to, and it’s something I’ve worked hard to try and overcome (I'm a chronic adrenaline junkie).
Now when I know I have an appointment coming up, instead of trying to get a bunch of stuff done right up until the last minute, I try to stay cognizant of the time and give myself ample to prepare for getting to and preparing for my next appointment.
I still arrive late for the odd appointment, but it’s far rarer these days.
Here are a few tips for transitioning to a life of chronic punctuality.
A Few Guidelines for Being Punctual
Arrive 15 Minutes Early
As mentioned, the best way to make a good impression is to be 5 minutes early, and the best way to arrive 5 minutes early is to plan to be there 15 minutes early. Even if nothing unexpected comes up and you are 15 minutes early, bring a laptop or tablet and get some work or writing done, or bring a book and brush up on your knowledge.
Set reminders in your calendar
Set a 1/2 hour (or hour, 15-minute, whatever you need to help you prep and get to your meeting) reminder in your calendar, and if your calendar has the option, have it trigger a sound to notify you of your next appointment. For important meetings, set 2 reminders if possible (e.g. the first one 1 hour in advance, the 2nd one 1/2 hour in advance).
Sync your calendar with your phone
Make sure your Google Calendar or whatever calendar you use is synced with your phone, so that you always get notifications (who doesn’t carry their phone with them anymore?)
Have everything planned out in advance
Do all your prep work when you set an appointment, not just before the appointment. If you’ve just made a lunch date for an important business meeting, don’t figure out where you’re going and how to get there 20 minutes before.
Do it as soon as you make the appointment: enter the address you’re going to, map out the directions and embed the link, plan out the agenda, etc. That way you don’t have to do all that stuff in a panic before your meeting.
Recognize your habits
Practice self-awareness: recognize when you’re pushing to get that ‘one more thing’ done before your appointment. Chances are it’s not urgent, but rather it’s a force of habit, and a habit you should break.
Arriving early shows that you respect others’ time; it shows that you’re professional; it shows that you’re organized.
I'd love to hear your personal experiences/struggles with punctuality in the comments below!