What time are we meeting them? 3:00pm?

Ok, it takes about 40 minutes by train and 10 minutes walking so let’s leave by 2:10pm.

Train Announcement: There is a sick passenger on the train. We will be delayed momentarily. Thank you. 

Needless to say, we were late for that meeting.

For the longest time, I was known for being late. I knew it was important to be on time but I always felt strange arriving too early. It wasn’t fun waiting for other people. Also, I thought important people didn’t wait for others, they had people waiting for them. It was this type of unclear thinking that justified my frequent tardiness.

The main reason I was ok with being late was because it never seemed like it was a big deal. I wasn’t hurting anyone but myself and I would be the only one missing out when I was late. I was also very good at making up plausible excuses so there weren’t any serious consequences. This created a habit of lateness.

Fortunately, 4 years ago I was able to break this habit. I didn’t think it was possible but when someone impressed upon me that being late shows that you don’t respect your own time and the time of others, it really hit a nerve. I changed my perspective and that allowed me to change my behavior.

I wouldn’t be doing the title of this article justice if I ended the post here. So without further ado, the secret of being always on time is …

… arriving 30 min to an hour early.

That’s the technical part.

The hard part is accepting and applying this “secret” in your life. If you’ve read this far, I am assuming that you are interested in always being on time.

If that is so, read on and do for yourself the exercises that follow.

Before you can be on time all the time, you need to answer these four questions.

What are the benefits of being on time?

What are the benefits of being late?

What are the consequences of being on time?

What are the consequences of being late?

To help you out, here are some sample answers for each of these questions:

Benefits of Being on Time

You don’t miss anything important and can remain composed and relaxed knowing that you are on time. You can also save energy from having to make up excuses.

Consequences of Being Late

Your reputation will be synonymous with someone who doesn’t respect other people’s time and can’t meet commitments. Being late shows that you can’t manage your time. If it is important, you’ll be rushing and end up being flustered and stressed. All of these reasons have serious consequences for your professional career and or your business.

Benefits of Being Late

It is cool to be late. You can get more done by finishing one last thing. In some instances, you can still fall back on being “fashionably late”. You don’t need to waste time leaving too early.

Consequences of Being on Time

You have to wait if anyone else is late. There is nothing to do if you are too early. You’ll be pegged as being too eager.

Once you’ve answered those questions, to always be on time, you need to:

1. focus on and strengthen the benefits of being on time and the consequences of being late and

2. address and reduce the benefits of being late and the consequences of being on time.

For example: Imagine the business you are not getting every time you show up late or the number of colleagues that have to wait for you before starting the meeting (strengthening consequence of being late). Reduce the anxiety of waiting when you are early by bringing a book or iPad to catch up on some reading (reducing the consequence of being early).

This method has worked wonders for me and I can see the respect people give me when they know that I am always on time.

Remember the only way to always be on time is to almost always be early.

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Robert Chen

Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.

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13 Responses to How to Always Be On Time

  1. Linda says:

    I have been yo-yo-ing up and down with being on time. But adjusting mindset to being 30 minutes earlier is usually a common sense practice.

  2. Qualities that Make Ordinary People Extraordinary - Part 2•Embrace Possibility Blog says:

    […] see the direct connection between how they spend their time and their well-being. They are usually always on time and “train” those that deal with them to respect their schedule by implementing strict […]

  3. 30 Qualities of Highly Successful People • Embrace Possibility Blog says:

    […] see the direct connection between how they spend their time and their well-being. They are usually always on time and “train” those that deal with them to respect their schedule by implementing strict […]

  4. […] As a bonus, for those of you who are always late, check out my article on how to always be on time. […]

  5. […] 2. Respect your client – treat your clients with the same respect you would show the President of your country. This also means respecting their time as well by never being late. If you need help being on time, check out How to Always Be On Time. […]

  6. Brian says:

    Now write a article on how to deal with anger/stress appropriately.

    e.g. #1

    Knowing I’m early and feeling good about it, but then! Bus/train is running late, anger starts getting pent up, and by the time I get to work or other destination, that good feeling is all gone.

    e.g. #2

    How to deal with the said tardy person?

    • Robert Chen says:

      Thanks Brian. I’m actually working on a post on how to feel better when you have negative emotions like anger and frustration. Check it out when I release it and let me know what you think.

  7. […] work, not eating your favorite dessert because you’re trying to lose weight or waking up early to always be on time. As you know, doing things we don’t feel like doing is tough. It doesn’t matter how […]

  8. […] Most people don’t have problems doing things they feel like doing. The real issue is doing the things they’re supposed to do when they don’t feel like doing it. Examples that come to mind: going to the gym after a long day of work, not eating your favorite dessert because you’re trying to lose weight or waking up early to always be on time. […]

  9. […] see the direct connection between how they spend their time and their well-being. They are usually always on time and “train” those that deal with them to respect their schedule by implementing strict start […]

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