Many opportunities in life are lost because of being late. In a public bid, if you are late, your application is automatically disqualified. Why, because being late is a predictor of lack of ability to follow instructions and poor execution. In talent selection and hiring, when a candidate is late to a job interview... We strongly recommend that our client make a pass, and not move the late candidate forward. Why? Because if a job applicant can't be on time for presumably their most important next phase of their life, their new career position, what should an employer expect would be their timeliness for other business and life events of less importance? Being late triggers a decision-making heuristic of... this is a pattern... watch out as this could be a pattern.
A reputation for not being on time is a reputation for non-delivery... and if this persists, it will likely negatively impact your career options and reputation. You know that you have a reputation for being late, when in the times you arrive on time they say, 'oh, you are on time.' Ouch. To overcome this poor reputation you must repeatedly be on time, in all things; meetings, reports, deadlines, etc.
The question remains, so if I want to gain a reputation for being on-time, what are some life hacks that others use to help them be on time. I asked this question to one of my Vistage Executive Peer Groups this week and this is what the genius of the group came up with... listed in no particular order.
Remember that late is for 'losers'; late proposals do not get considered; late job applicants do not move forward; late to the theatre makes a foolish spectacle of yourself being guided by flashlight to your row between acts. Don't be late.
Keep a schedule and use a watch or time device (smart phone) to keep to the schedule.
Set up administrative reminders in your calendar; such as text me when 10 minutes out from the meeting.
Consider setting false deadlines, pre-deadlines, and other mid-point milestones to assure that you are alert, prepared, and on-time.
Simplify. Doing too much can make you late, over task, and keep you working at levels that are not optimal. Focus on the important, and do those things well, and be on time for them.
Be realistic about how much time it takes to do tasks. Don't assume you can race to the airport without a periodic slow down at the security gates. Consider what it actually takes to do tasks, and plan accordingly.
Leave earlier.... and arrive earlier for meetings; for example, strive to arrive at 20-30 minutes early for your meeting (e.g., arrive at 7.40am for your 8am meeting); this need not be wasted time.
If you feel like you might be wasting time arriving to early for meetings, take work with you. For example, when I coach clients, I often pick a rendezvous point (e.g., by the fireplace, restaurant, lobby, wherever) where I can arrive early, relax, and get some work done before my clients arrive. I'm never stressed when others arrive late as I have taken valuable time. Further, when clients are late to coaching engagements, and they arrive late, they have just increased the hourly cost of their coaching as they pay the same fixed rate for a shorter time. Being late costs the offender in small ways and big ways.
Shorten your "To Do List." Sometimes long to do lists make us feel like we are effective. Consider keeping your must-do list... rank the top 3-5 things that must get done today; do that most important thing first, aka, the Covey Rocks principle, and keep your must-do list in rank order. You will be amazed at how much you get done, and you won't be distracted by non-important activities.
For further help being on time, plan better. Consider putting slack in your schedule so that if one meeting spills over, that you are not late to your next meeting.
If you are perpetually late for meetings, and just can't get things done, consider putting a phantom meeting on your calendar to hold the time, and then get the most important things done.
Lastly, something humorous.... if you are always late to meetings, in the words of Bob Newhart, I recommend that you "Stop It." For context, click here.