Do you have one of those friends who you have to tell to meet you 20 minutes before you actually plan on being there and THEN they might be on time? Maybe you ARE that friend.
I used to have one. She was chronically late. It didnt matter if it was a dinner, a show or just a hike on a beautiful Sunday morning. She never arrived less than 15 minutes later than our agreed upon time.
It really did become my habit to simply inform her we would meet at a certain time and then deliberately plan to be there 15 minutes after that time.
I'm about to ruffle a few feathers and I'm OK with that. I am equally sure I will hear a lot of shouts of support as well.
When did it become acceptable to be late? Maybe it isn't acceptable but those that are chronically late still seem to feel it is excusable.
As a networking event director, I had one member of my group who would show up 10 minutes after the event officially started (and 40 minutes after the doors opened) and then complain that the only seat left didn't give her the best view of the speaker. What made her feel so entitled to be late and still have a special seat reserved for her?
“Being late is not an accident. It is a choice.” Nicole Bandes
I get it, there are “reasons” you are always late. But those reasons are just choices. The choices you are making that cause you to be late include:
- Choosing to keep working when you need to get going.
- Choosing to do just one more thing before leaving.
- Choosing to fit in that extra 5 minute stop, that ends up taking 10 minutes.
- Choosing to not account for traffic.
- Choosing to not anticipate time to find location or walking from the parking lot.
When you chronically show up late (and sometimes even if you only do so once), you suffer the consequences.
You may miss out on an opportunity (even if it is just to sit where you can see the speaker). Or you may be damaging your reputation. Late people tend to appear less trustworthy and responsible.
Late people are sending a signal to those who have made an effort to be on time. This signal says, “You aren't as important as I am.” This may not be a conscious signal but it certainly is received.
Let me make it clear, everyone has emergencies. There will be occasions when there is an extreme accident on the freeway or you blow out a tire while driving down the road.
Emergencies, however, are rare. Over using excuses will show your true stripes eventually.
How To Avoid Being Late
If you are one who is chronically late, there is hope for you. My friend, the one who was even late to hiking trips on a Sunday morning, is now recovering from her addiction and you can to.
Be Prepared Well in Advance
Sometimes we underestimate how long it will take to gather our coffee, bag or purse, sunglasses, water bottle, keys, phone, directions, etc Make sure you have most of these things ready to go at least 30 minutes prior to anticipated departure time. This way, you can work right up to the time you need to leave and not be rushed.
Review Driving Directions
Even with most navigation systems on smart phones or in cars these days, it is helpful to get an overview of the driving directions before departing. This will help you better estimate the time it will take you to arrive as well as how long it might take you from the parking lot to the meeting room. I once made the mistake of planning to arrive 10 minutes before the start of a meeting. I had no idea parking was going to take 15 minutes with the garage being an easy 5 minutes from the meeting room. I was definitely late.
Plan Extra Stops for AFTER the Meeting
Need to drop something off at the post office or pick up your dry cleaning while you are out? Do those things after your meeting or give yourself more time than you expect you will need. Things always tend to take longer than we think.
Say NO to That One More Thing
Think you can just check Facebook or answer one more email before you leave? Again, we often fail to estimate how long a task will take. That one more quick task may put you behind by an easy 10 minutes.
Go Light on the Schedule
If you aren't a morning person or hate to drive in rush hour traffic, don't schedule things in the morning. If you struggle to leave appointments on time, don't schedule things back-to-back. Give yourself enough cushion to honor the way you are.
At the end of the day, you have to consider that you just didn't care enough to be on time. In fact, each time you are late, I want you to think about responding with, Sorry I’m late, I just didn't care enough to be on time. At least you are being honest and maybe, when you think about having to share that, you'll start making more of an effort to be on time in the first place.