One time-stealing habit that can sabotage our efforts to be punctual is this:
We think we can do one more thing before we walk out the door.
Check for messages, compose an email, make a phone call, take a quick peek at Facebook or Twitter, organise the cupboards, etc.
Most of the things we try to squeeze in at the last minute can be done later, so where is the real benefit of firing off that non-urgent email at the risk of running late?
Perhaps it’s the thrill of ticking one more box, proving we have superhero capability. Perhaps we’re selfish and value our time over that of others. Or maybe we’re simply trying to be as productive as possible.
A poor habit often begins with good intentions. You may have found that in a pinch you were successful in managing that one extra task while being on time to the meeting. So you reason you could be that much more productive by always doing that one extra thing.
Except that it doesn’t always work out. Gamble too close to the edge you may find yourself late more often than not.
Habitual lateness can damage reputations, both professionally and personally. If you think you’re heading down this road, come back from the edge and set up some safeguards. Here’s how.
Ways to refuse the temptation to do just ‘one more thing’:
- Avoid the activities that tend to get you into trouble, such as looking at emails or opening post before you’re about to leave. You won’t have time to do anything about it anyway so it serves no real purpose. Schedule time for these actions later, or if possible address during your commute.
- Social media? Put it down and run a mile. Use a platform such as Hootsuite to schedule a few rounds of posts for the day. Check back later to interact and reply to comments, or catch up while you’re in transit.
- Phone call? Just because you wrapped up your last call in 2 minutes flat doesn’t mean the next will follow suit. The unpredictability of a ‘quick phone call’ involves too much risk. Postpone until later when you know you’ll have time to give your full attention to the other party.
- Household tidy? Of course I always promote returning things immediately where they live. However, if you’re already pushing the envelope to catch a train or beat morning traffic, then you need to drop what you’re doing and get outta Dodge. Don’t worry, the dishes, laundry or rubbish will be waiting for you faithfully on your return.
- Worried about wasted time? If you’re concerned you’ll lose valuable minutes being early to an appointment, turn the wait time to your favour. Make it your aim to arrive early so you can use the waiting time for ‘one more thing’. You’ll be on-site and ready, minus the frantic mad dash to get there.
- Listen to the voice of reason. You know when you reach the borderline moment: Quit now and you’ll be on time vs. Go on, you can fit in one more thing! Somewhere is a voice of reason telling you what you probably know, that last thing is likely to make you late – like it did last time. Ask yourself, is the quick win really worth putting your reputation and reliability on the line? Listen to the voice of reason, don’t leave it to chance.
Respect your time and the time of others.
Learn to quit while you’re ahead.
Choose to be punctual.
You’ll feel better about your time-keeping habits and others will appreciate your efforts.
What do you do that promotes punctuality? Leave a comment below.