Get It Together: Are You Always Late?

The clock is ticking. Is it your friend?

I hate being late. I hate it because it portrays a lack of concern on my end for the person or meeting I am late for. I wasn’t always like this. I used to approach life moment to moment in the era before iPhones and Social Media. Along the way, I learned some huge lessons and I’m going to give you everything I have here. If you’re one of those habitually late people, it’s time to consider what you’re saying to the rest of the world. So here are some painful thoughts to reflect on today, especially if you were late to something…

(Sit down for this. Some of you are going to smirk and laugh, others are going to feel battered and bruised. Nothing but love here…)

You don’t really care about who is waiting. People are busy. It can take various degrees of work and planning for others to schedule a meeting with you. Respect that, and be early, or at the very least, on time. Nothing screams that you really don’t care louder than being late.

You consider yourself more important than everyone else. There is a meeting room full of people, with an empty chair for you. An empty place setting at a lunch meeting where nobody feels comfortable ordering food because you haven’t shown up. A Skype call with nobody picking up on your end. You know people are waiting, but your choices keep them waiting. Truth is, after a while everyone will know that you just consider yourself more important than everyone else. They will probably realize it before you do.

You don’t pay attention to details. There are few things more painful in the professional world than listening to the never ending cacophony of excuses from a habitually late coworker. So on behalf of everyone else who is able to be on time, I’ll make an important point. Nobody cares about your other meeting. You’re late for this one. Nobody wants to hear the long story this time around. The time has come for you to actually pay attention to details, and schedule enough time for all your meetings. Nobody else will tell you this, most likely. They’ll probably just start holding meetings without you, and maybe even one about you. Uh-oh.

Doing things right isn’t that important to you. There isn’t a good organization anywhere that holds to the motto “excellence is overrated.” Cut corners on other people’s time and they’ll soon rightly understand you’ll cut corners on other things too. Eventually, the authority you answer to will draw conclusions about not just your work ethic, but your character.

You look incredibly immature. (Gulp!) If you’re still muttering excuses by the time you get this far down the list, it is probably clear to people who work close to you that you’re incredibly immature. They may not communicate this to you, and if they are your direct reports they will probably lie to your face or at the least make excuses for your immaturity to change the subject. So, I’m speaking for them. When I was a young, twentysomething single adult, I realized I was late about 50% of the time. Usually the reasons revolved around poor time management, though sometimes they were based on choices I made that kept people waiting. I realized that if I was going to be taken seriously by others, I would need to become like the people I took seriously. I don’t take people who are always late seriously. It is immature behavior. We have smartphones, and they have alarms; we have outlook, and it has a built in  calendar.

You just need help. Look, there’s no way you’re as big of a jerk as this post suggests, right? But perception is big, and late people look like jerks. Don’t make an excuse for this blog; make it an explanation. That’s what I did. An excuse points the blame elsewhere, but an explanation can help you plot a course. Make the Outlook Calendar your friend. Use it wisely and you’ll feel like a boss. Well, at least you’ll feel like your boss isn’t mad at you for being late. Tomorrow I will give some good, helpful tips on how to be on time and improve how you present yourself to the outside world. You should probably schedule an alert now to read the blog, or subscribe by entering your email in that box up top. Shameless plug, yes. Good advice, also.

3 responses to “Get It Together: Are You Always Late?”

  1. Late people are one of my pet peeves. Growing up my dad always had us places early. As an adult, I adopted this same practice. Even after having 4 kids in 31/2 years, I was/ am still on time. It takes planning. Perhaps that’s why Jewish practices treat the evening before as the next day. It is a planning tool to prepare you and your household. It works, and it shows you value other people and their time.

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