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Punctuality and Professional Image
The negative impact of being late and how to reduce it
Do you recognize any of these symptoms as you rush to your next appointment?
- Driving too fast
- Building up stress
- Admonishing yourself for poor organization
- Slinking into an event with apologies and excuses
With all the tasks on our plates, it is easy to try to cram in one more activity before rushing off to the next engagement, but when you arrive late, it can result in any of the following:
- Conveying to the other party involved that you feel your time is more valuable than theirs
- Presenting the image that you are poorly prepared
- Causing others to fall behind in their schedules for the rest of the day
As an example, one of my clients spends many of her days in back-to-back meetings. While we worked on her time management processes, her complaint was that often a party involved in a meeting might be 20 minutes late, and so, for the rest of the day, she would end up at least 20 minutes late for the rest of the meetings - if the same thing didn't happen more than once in a day. For any meeting after the delayed one, she would then be the one coming in looking disorganized and disrespectful of others' time.
My suggestion was that when you have scheduled a block of time for a meeting and have subsequent commitments, you might consider sticking to your schedule. If you had a 30-minute session booked, and the involved party was 20 minutes late, then you only have a 10 minute meeting. It is not fair for you to show up late for all other meetings, making everyone else wait because one person was not considerate of your time.
I have also done a lot of training for another organization that suggested I might want to begin my time management seminars about 10 minutes late because in their "culture" several individuals are always "late". Yet I also have audience members who arrived 15 minutes early for the seminar. Is their time any less valuable? The "culture" develops because programs to not start on time. When I am conducting my time management seminars, I think it is especially important to start on time!
Contrast the symptoms that often result from running late with the confident feeling of arriving at an event on time, feeling calm and in control. If you often find yourself tardy, try these measures:
- Make a commitment to arrive on time.
- In addition to recording the time of the meeting in your planner, include the travel time and add an extra 5-10 minutes, so that you are accurately scheduling all of the time, not just the meeting time.
- When traveling, always block more time than the actual distance required, allowing for traffic and detours.
- Do not fall into the "one last thing" syndrome. It is better to leave earlier and then make a phone call when you arrive than to squeeze it in beforehand and have to rush.
Punctuality is a habit that takes time and practice to develop, but both your self-esteem and your professional image will benefit.
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