How to Stop Being Late


Admit that you need to improve on your punctuality.  Denial and excuses do not build up credibility, leadership or professional  qualities.  You’re creating a reputation for yourself, and it’s not the best reputation to be establishing.  People feel they can’t trust you or rely on you, so it impacts relationships and self-esteem.

Change your view point. Your appointments, job, family, team, church, committee, etc. need you and you’re doing them a disservice by not being there on-time and to show up, perform, give or serve.  You’re too valuable to be late.    Realize your tardiness is a problem for others.   Don’t use your lateness as an expression of power. .. “You’re less powerful, so you have to wait for me; I can keep you waiting.”

Frequent tardiness can be a way of expressing unconscious or intentional subtle messages of rebellion, anger and resentment.   Do you find yourself moving slow and late to a job you don’t like or an activity with your spouse/family/parent/friend because you are angry with them?   Do you resent being the caregiver in your family and so you show up late to the holiday dinner or family reunion?   Are you angry with co-workers or your church feeling overlooked and under appreciated, so you show up late to meetings and miss deadlines?   Do you resent filing your taxes and turning in a report on the job or at school because you feel it is unfair or too much of a demand?   Do you feel mistreated by others and your retribution is always being late …and you feel it is justified?   Your acts of tardiness are speaking loudly.  They could be the symptom of a deeper issue.   As you learn to resolve and heal your issues of rebellion, anger and resentment you will be more conscious, respectful and punctual in regards to your commitments and requests from others.

Reframe how you see yourself.  Stop defining yourself as someone whose always late – it boxes you in to that behavior.

Lay out your clothes, important papers, equipment, materials, tickets, laptop, accessories, etc. the night before.  I began to see the costs of being late and the payoffs of being on time.
When I started packing my car the night before a conference speaking engagement or travel, I noticed I had less stress and more time.
Build in cushions before and after everything.  You need drive time to get to appointments – add a few minutes to your estimate.  Often, appointments run over time so build in a cushion there, too.   Check and double check addresses and directions when you are going someplace new.   Take into consideration traffic, weather, parking issues, car problems and bad driving directions.
Manage expectations.   If you’re going to be late, give people a call so they know.  Allow time in the schedule for interruptions and preparation. This includes tasks like getting ready for work, finding locations of appointments, and getting directions.  Be sure to allow a little more time that you think you will need.  Schedule times for social activities and phone calls instead of letting them interrupt your work.
Punctuality is a function of basic professionalism, personal discipline, and respect for the time of others.
There are all sorts of time-management processes and tips that can improve punctuality, but they only work if the person has the discipline to apply them. And if the person has that discipline, they don’t need the processes.
Avoid saying “yes” to every request.  I usually found myself running late and stressed whenever I tried to take on too many projects and requests.  I had to learn that I could not please everybody.  Sometimes you have to say “no”  to keep yourself focused on priorities, organized, punctual and stress-free.
Teach others how to respect your time with diplomacy and conviction.  If you are a people pleaser or weak in communicating your time schedule, you will allow people to put you in a time squeeze.  Here’s a great thing to say: “Excuse me, I hate to cut you off, but I have an appointment to keep.”  It is hard to cut someone off, but they will respect you for sticking to a schedule. The higher up you go in corporate life, the stricter the people stick to a schedule. The good news is that this means it’s perfectly acceptable in work life to draw time boundaries. Get comfortable doing it at work and then you can do it at home, too.  Saying “no” and shortening a phone call or activity to insure your promptness takes forethought and practice.
Prioritize and figure out what’s most important and just get that done.   Communicate with the people who depend on you – like your boss/spouse — what your time frames, priorities and need for delegation are.  I quickly learned from too many late and stressful times the importance of asking for help, putting gas in my car the day before, having a consistent place for my keys, purse and cell phone, programming my GPS before I leave, having phone numbers readily available and keeping healthy snacks in my car to avoid timely stops for food, gas, etc.
Wake up and realize your tardiness can affect your career opportunities negatively.  People, bosses, customers and your children do notice!
After being late for a hair appointment and being informed I couldn’t have my hair done that day and being charged a fee for a missed dentist appointment that I forgot…the costly pain and embarrassment taught me a lesson about respect, organization and punctuality.  Fear, pain, boredom and anger are primary motivating factors in human beings.  Unless there is a reward for being on time…or a punishment for not being on time…you will continue the bad and unprofessional habit of tardiness.
Putting yourself in other people’s shoes can make a big difference in punctuality. If you know what it feels like to be left waiting, then you will be less likely to cause that feeling in other people once you imagine their circumstances.   Remember the golden rule…Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
Set your clocks and watch ahead a little.  Mark the times of your appointments a little ahead of the actual time.
How much time, money and peace of mind have you lost?
How many relationships are ruined because you have not been dependable?
How many career opportunities have you lost because you lack organizational and time management discipline?
How many classes, lessons and projects did you have to repeat because you lack punctuality?
Who’s trust have you lost?
How has your business, family, credit or ministry suffered because you lack discipline with time?
Punctuality shows integrity

Punctuality is a trust issue. When you make an appointment, you are making a commitment to be where you said you’d be when you said you’d be there. The only way you build up other people’s trust in you is by consistently meeting your commitments — and that starts with being punctual.  The person who is always on time is someone others can trust to be as good as their word.

I believe my husband’s limousine/sedan transportation business is successful because he is a stickler for punctuality.  It used to be point of conflict for us because he would be frustrated with my tardiness and I thought he was being too bossy and too rigid.  I believe his repeat customers are “repeat” customers because they know they can trust his dependability, professionalism and punctuality.

Begin to implement these punctuality steps in your professional and personal life and you will experience peace, self-esteem, success,  less stress and gain the respect of others around you.

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