The Importance of Being Early: Punctuality and You
Coming from a person who is predictably early, lateness can be incredibly unprofessional. I’m not just talking job interviews—this applies to meeting friends for coffee, extra-curricular meetings, and pretty much anything you sign up for. If you make a habit of being on time, it shows that you respect the commitments you’re making. In turn, people are going to respect you.
Lateness can also have repercussions, especially in a professional environment. Showing up late to meetings or handing in projects days past the deadline sends the message that you don’t care about your job. When it comes time for a promotion or bonus, that reputation isn’t going to play well with your boss. Moreover, there are some things you just can’t hand in late—projects that meet urgent deadlines, or collaborative projects in which co-workers depend on one another to do their jobs. If you can’t fulfill those kinds of expectations, expect reprimand. Unfortunately, in fact, you might lose that job altogether.
That’s why it’s so important to be early. The benefits of punctuality (developing a good reputation and avoiding some serious repercussions) far outweigh the drawbacks (getting up a little earlier in the morning). That being said, some people have trouble with punctuality, so it’s important to develop strategies that can help you be on time. If you get an early start on those habits—ha!—it will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
If you need help being on time, here are some general tips.
1) Do the math. Figure out how long it takes you to get ready in the morning, how long your bus ride is, etc. As a general rule, you should add 10-15 minutes of extra time for external variables, like traffic. According to that formula, set your alarm.
2) Have a game plan. If you can take 5 minutes the night before to lay out exactly where you have to be (and when), your routine will run more smoothly in the morning. You can also “cheat” by doing some things the night before, like laying out your outfit or packing your lunch.
3) Call ahead. If something does happen to hold you up, make sure you give as much notice as possible. That way, the person you’re meeting—a friend, a coworker, an employer—can be prepared for a 10- or 20-minute delay, and adjust their schedule accordingly.
4) Trick yourself (for a good cause). The classic strategy is setting your watch 10 minutes early: even if you plan your day perfectly and everything goes right, you’ll have some wiggle room. Another way to do this is overestimate how long it’s going to take you to do things. It’s better to have extra time than no time at all.