Making Time To Be On Time

Waiting_BoredBruce Turkel is a nationally recognized expert on branding. He’s also a prolific blogger, one that I follow. Bruce recently wrote about his serendipitous early arrival to the airport in a post titled “Early To Bed. Early To Rise.” It’s a worthy read.

I commented on his post, focusing my message on the importance of being on time. It’s what I call Making Time To Be On Time.  Here’s the way I see it.

Why Being On Time Is Important

Being on time – in any form and for any purpose – is important in three specific ways:

  • Leadership – Being on time demonstrates leadership.  It communicates that we command our schedule and we fulfill our obligations. Others follow those who lead, resulting in more people showing up on time.
  • Respect – Being on time respects other peoples’ time. Forcing others to wait for us is impolite regardless of the reason. They’ve made time for us and we are professionally obligated to make good use of that time.
  • Productivity – Being on time is productive. As obvious as this seems, many miss the point. Gathering people for a meeting consumes two valuable and limited resources – money and time. When meetings start late and, as a result, run long, time is lost, productivity is lost and money is wasted. The aggregated effects of that loss can be staggering.

How to be on Time

These suggestions will improve timeliness:

  • Set/Follow Alerts – Most productivity tools, like Outlook, as well as all mobile devices, have alert functions. Use them and obey them. Set an appointment reminder at least 15 minutes prior to its start. When the alert sounds, finish up the current task, grab what you need and head that way. Do NOT start on a new task thinking there’s plenty of time. There isn’t.
  • Anticipate Transition Time – We are all optimists. We routinely underestimate how long things will take, including how long it will take to get from one meeting to another. If an appointment is outside the office or even on a different floor, leave plenty of time for inconvenient transition events – traffic, busy elevators, etc. It’s always better to be slightly early, than slightly late. In addition to sending a positive message to others, you’ll experience less stress.
  • Hard-Schedule Open Intervals – Another mistake many make is scheduling appointments back-to-back. Like Dominos, when one meeting runs long, the entire schedule tips over towards lateness. Hard-schedule small breaks between each meeting – as little as 15 minutes – right on the calendar. This builds a cushion into every meeting and allows us to gather our thoughts and check in with other activities between appointments.

It’s Your Time; Make the Most of It

Make a commitment to be on time, regardless of what other people do. It demonstrates better leadership while respecting others, and until everyone’s on time all the time, you might also get some extra work done while waiting for them!

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