Are you always late? Socially, you can lose friends if you fail to be on time. You give yourself a negative reputation as someone who’s not responsible. As a result, people can’t trust you. In a job situation, this could mean being passed over for a promotion. Even worse, you could be fired. Yet, amazingly, many people still continue to be late.
If you can’t seem to make an appointment on time, then explore why, believes Dr. Philip McGraw. America’s most visible counselor, “Dr. Phil”, has often said that people are late because they’re getting some form of payback. The popular talk show therapist believes a tardy person receives a reward for his bad habit, whether he (or she) realizes it or not.
Perhaps Dr. Phil’s theory is debatable. However, it won’t hurt to examine why you can’t be on time. Either discuss your problem with a trusted friend or professional, or get counseling. Meanwhile, follow a few practical tips to reform.
If you’re always late, then maybe you need more time to prepare for a meeting. Give yourself extra time so you won’t panic when it’s time to leave for your appointment. For example, if you need to get directions, secure them a day (or days) prior to leaving.
You also need to make better time estimations. Chances are you don’t predict the correct amount of time you’ll need to get ready.
Often people fail to be on time because their plates are too full. Unable to say “no” they schedule more activities in their day than they’re able to do. If you’re tempted to do more than you should before going to an appointment, ask yourself, “Can this job wait?”
Learn to say “no.” Sometimes people are late because they can’t turn down requests. If someone asks you to do something that you know would interfere with being punctual, just say, “Sorry, I’m running late right now. Perhaps I can do it later.”
On the other hand, it could be you’re also a people pleaser and suffer from codependent issues. Just remember that you’re only one person and can’t please everyone.
Use Your Answering Machine
How many times have you been late because of a last minute phone call? Turn on your answering machine and if you have to know who’s calling as you walk out the door, put the phone on ringer until you return.
Do you stay up late and then feel tired the next day? Try getting to bed earlier.
Reschedule. If you realize you’re not going to be on time, then reschedule the meeting. But don’t do it 5 minutes before you’re supposed to be there. In other words, be thoughtful as well as realistic.
The instant you’re tempted to cram one more task in before leaving for an appointment, resist the urge and just walk out the door. It will be hard at first, but if you keep doing it, you’ll slowly break the habit of being late.
Finally, think of being late as self-centeredness. When you chronically fail to be on time, you’re actually implying that what you have to do is more important than the people waiting for you. It’s a matter of putting others first rather than yourself.
Originally published on Suite 101.