Part of being professional is being punctual. Being punctual is a way to show that you value a person’s time. You are not wasting their time by showing up late on your own accord, and they will value this trait.
At least, this is what I have heard from most of the adults I speak with. Personally, when I am running late it’s simply because I have so much to do that I scramble to do it all and meet with people on time, or sometimes I just struggle to find parking. I sincerely value their time, but gauging by the number of times I am late to work, club meetings or coffee dates with friends, I can see how people would think otherwise.
If you’re anything like me (a student who balances a part-time job with classes, internships and whatever is left of a social life) and want to get better at being on-time, here’s some well proven tips on how to do it.
- Know yourself
Start being more aware what makes you late. Maybe you consistently mis-judge the amount of time to get places, or you get caught up in doing a homework assignment and lose track of time. Do you get easily distracted if you meet someone en-route to your meeting? The next time you’re late, write down why it happened, and take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. By being more self-aware, you can take tailored steps to adjusting your schedule.
- Don’t underestimate how long something will take.
Holy cannoli, listen up because this is basically the golden rule of time management. Things always take longer than you expect. You may schedule 30 minutes to write a discussion post that actually takes an hour after doing some in-depth research. Even taking out the trash, a supposedly two-minute task, has made me miss the bus before. Plus, something will always go wrong. You can run out of gas, get into traffic or forget your wallet at home and have to turn around. Avoid getting sucked into any tasks 10 minutes before you need to leave, because you’ll end up being 10 minutes late.
- Schedule “stop working” time
If you are doing homework before heading to a meeting, you know it will take you some time to finish your thoughts and close some tabs. You shouldn’t wait until the moment you’re supposed to leave to close out of your assignment and search for your keys. Schedule a moment (or five) to wrap up your work, put on your shoes and bid your roommates goodbye this way you’re not rushing to do so the minute you need to leave and leaving 10 minutes late.
- Schedule “start working” time
Similarly, schedule some time to prepare for a meeting before the meeting begins. This is especially helpful if you’re attending a conference call or online lecture. If you schedule 5-10 minutes to set up your laptop or webcam. In fact, just jump on the conference call 2-5 minutes early to ensure you’re be on time. You’ll be the first person on the call, and you’ll eliminate that awkward time when everyone’s trying to find out who’s mic isn’t working.
- Embrace being early
If being early feels like a waste of time, prepare yourself for the wait. Bring a book, reading assignment or write some notes for your meeting or class before it begins. Instead of being 5 minutes late because you’re working on something, show up 5 minutes early and work on the same thing. Soon enough you’ll realize being early isn’t a waste of time.