Share on Google+

The "On Time" Habit

What is YOUR On Time Arrival Percentage?

Are you aways late?

What is your "on-time arrival percentage?"  Do you arrive on time for appointments, meetings, and other functions? Is being on time a habit with you?

One of the joys of Nantucket island life is its casual nature. Unfortunately, this "casual nature" many times overflows to business and not-for-profit work in the form of perennially late arrivals at meetings. It annoys those who are diligent about arriving on time, and yes, it annoys me. OK - off the soap box, Marsha. You've got a good subject for an Nantucket Chronicle post!

Let's talk about timeliness and its impact on your business, career, and/or reputation...

While this is a very simple concept, the reality is that arriving on time is a basic signal that can impact the respect people have for you, and ultimately, your future success.  And continual failure to arrive on time can actually be a career killer.

We all know of people who are regularly late. What do you think of those people?  Disorganized? Uncaring? Self-important?  Self absorbed? Unable to perform?  The thoughts aren’t positive, that’s for sure!

And when you think of who you’ll choose to do special projects or other tasks, perennial lateness will come into your selection decision.  Just think of what a boss might think, when it comes
time for promotion! Once again, not positive.

We do need a disclaimer here:  we are not talking about the occasional late arrival;  unforeseen situations happen to all of us.  We are talking about the person whose lateness is a part of their makeup.

We can’t get into why these people are always late.  There are probably thousands of reasons, from some deep psychological mystery to simple disorganization; what we do know is that it is an easy fix. And if you want to be successful in your career or your community, you’ll make a big change -- fast.  Perennial lateness is a success inhibitor.

It’s annoying. It slows progress. And yes, it is disrespectful. Someone once told me that "being late is one of the most selfish things you can do."  A lot of people share that opinion.  And if it happens to be someone you want to work with, work for, or sell to -- you’re not starting off on the right foot.

  • It’s not fair to expect the others around you to "expect" you to be late.
  • It’s not fair to ask others to repeat parts of meetings that you miss.
  • It’s not fair to make others wait for you when you all agreed in advance on a time.

So, enough of the justification for why you should avoid habitual lateness!  Here are some thoughts on how to shift to an "on-time habit."

* Begin with self talk: "I am always early."  When you choose being early as a personal value, believing it can go a
long way to kicking the late habit.
* Reassess the time you allow for tasks.  In my time management seminars, I like to encourage people to estimate how long something will take, then double it. This accounts for interruptions, delays, and "Murphy’s Law."
* Live according to “Vince Lombardi Time.”  The great football coach had his team on "Vince Lombardi Time," which means 10 minutes early.  When he said practice started at 10:00, if you arrived at 9:51, you were already one minute late.
* Respect the other people involved in your task or event more than yourself.  When you think in terms of their time being as much or more valuable than yours, you’ll try harder to arrive on time.
* Set alarms and reminders.  In the electronic age, use technology to your advantage. Then, pay attention to them!
* Make it your standard. Finally, understand and believe that arriving on time is a standard expectation of successful people, and that habitual lateness can and will hurt you.

The good news is that it is fixable, and quickly fixable. Because perennial lateness is most likely a habit, it may take some attention to redirect yourself to an "on-time" habit. But
start today. 

...And be early for the rest of your life.


What "on time arrival" tips do you have to share with our readers?


Copyright Marsha Egan.  Marsha D. Egan, CPCU, CSP, PCC, CPCU of The Egan Group, Inc. is a certified executive and success coach and member of the National Speakers’ Association. She can be reached at [email protected]  For information on coaching or seminars


Great advice, Marsha!  My technique:  my watch is always fast, from three to five minutes.  Even though I know that, I tend to forget it so it keeps me on time.

Marsha Egan's picture

I'm glad that works for you Georgia!