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

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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

More by this author

Carl Pullein

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

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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