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Why Are You Always Late and How Can You Change It?

Why Are You Always Late and How Can You Change It?

Turning up late is possibly the most selfish and rude thing you could do. When you are late, you are stealing other people’s time and that is something they can never get back. Steal their money, by all means, they can get that back. Steal their time and it’s gone forever.

If you want to dramatically improve your reputation professionally and personally, pay close attention to your timekeeping. When you respect other people’s time, they will respect yours.

So why are you always late and how can you change that to always being on time?

1. Poor Calendar Management

This is the most common reason for people being late. If you allow other people to schedule meetings on your calendar, for example, you are giving away control of your most valuable asset—your time. No matter where you are on your company’s hierarchy, make sure, at the very least, you have to accept invites on your calendar before they become confirmed.

Your calendar is unique among your productivity tools in that it never lies to you. You get the same twenty-four hours everyone else does and you get to choose how you spend those hours each day.

You can add dates to tasks that are not due on those dates in your to-do list manager, you cannot do that on your calendar (well you could, but that would just be lying to yourself and what’s the point of that?) This means you can instantly see when you double-book yourself or if you don’t leave enough time between meetings. It will tell you if you have left a realistic amount of time to get from one place to another because you can see on your screen where you are supposed to be next.

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A trick I use, when I am asked if I can attend a meeting on a specific day, is to always reply “let me check my calendar and I will get back to you”.

I could check my calendar from my phone and tell them immediately, but I’ve made a lot of mistakes by rushing to confirm an appointment without taking an extra few minutes to check and make sure I have enough travel time between my appointments. It also allows me time to consider whether whatever I am being asked to do is something I want to do. If it is not, then I can easily decline the invitation.

2. Learn to Say No

Time tested and still the most effective way to get control of your time and not be late for your commitments. We all tend to overcommit ourselves. We want to be nice, we do not want to hurt other people’s feelings by rejecting them. We don’t want to miss out on an opportunity—the fear that everyone else knows what’s going on and we don’t. It all builds up to make us want to say “yes” all the time.

That is what causes us to over-commit ourselves, and then we find we are running late to all our events and commitments which does the reverse of what we want to achieve—have the respect of our peers.

When you start being much more objective about what you say “yes” to and analyzing whether you do have time to commit to what it is you are being asked to commit to and being willing to say “no” to many of these opportunities that destroy your ability to keep time effectively, then you will find that rather than being late all the time, you start to be the first to arrive.

That’s when your peers begin to respect you more. You have demonstrated you respect their time and in return, they will respect yours.

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You need to know that saying no to opportunities and commitments helps everyone. If you say yes to something and are not totally committed to carrying through with that commitment, you are not only letting down your peers, you are also letting down yourself.

Get comfortable saying no. You will find it helps you a lot more than you think.

If you need a little help on how to say no, check out this article written by Leo Babauta: The Gentle Art of Saying No

3. Allow Extra Time to Get to Where You Are Going

This one has the added benefit of reducing stress. When you arrive early to your appointments and meetings, you get time to stop and reflect or catch up.

You can do the same with doctors and dental appointments too. Those few spare minutes in a waiting room are great places to do some focused work or reply to a few emails. It gives you some much-needed breathing room in an otherwise chaotic world.

4. Overcompensate on Travel Time

You never know what the traffic will be like and while we do have the technology to inform us of traffic hot spots today, a build-up of traffic can happen incredibly fast. One small accident could very easily add an extra thirty minutes to your travel time.

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The secret is to allow for that. Give yourself an extra thirty minutes of travel time and you will gain the benefit the other side. I’ve often found myself with thirty-minutes in an empty meeting room to get on with my work undisturbed.

5. Never Be Afraid to Excuse Yourself from an Over-Running Meeting.

You’ll be surprised how easy it is and you help everyone else caught up in someone else’s mismanaged meeting. Another one you could do is to refuse to attend any meeting that does not have a clearly defined start and finish time and an agenda.

Of course, this can be difficult if it is your boss who is the culprit. But you need to get control here. If you are attending a meeting where you know the organizer regularly overruns their meetings and they are above you in the company’s food chain, then explain at the beginning you will have to leave at a specified time.

This has two benefits:

First, it alerts the organiser to the need to finish on time. Secondly, everyone else in the meeting will feel a great deal of gratitude towards you for increasing the chances the meeting will finish on time.

Never compromise here. You committed to being somewhere at a specific time. You checked your calendar, you knew when you made the commitment about the meeting and so, you have a duty to follow through with your commitment, part of which is being on time.

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I’ve even been known to inform my dentist that I will have to leave at a certain time so I can get to a pre-scheduled appointment. This now means my dentist is always honest with me about how long a specific treatment will take, which helps me to make better judgments about how much time I will have before my next appointment.

If you have any doubts about whether you will be able to get to an appointment on time, don’t make the appointment. Or better prioritize your commitments. It’s far better to cancel an appointment in good time than to have everyone waiting for you.

Final Thoughts

We foolish think money is our most valuable asset forgetting that money can always be gained or lost. Unlike time, where once it has gone, it has gone for good and you will never get it back. When you understand this, you start to understand that you have to not only protect your own time, but you should respect the time of others too.

Arriving late for appointments—no matter who you are—is not being civilized. It is just good manners to show respect for people’s time and that starts by always arriving on time for your meetings and appointments.

More About Time Management

Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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