7 Tips to Help Increase Punctuality in the Workplace

Angela Kambouris

Managing your reputation is critical for success in the workplace. In a competitive job market, punctual employees are often seen as more dependable and consistent in comparison to a worker who is always late and rushes through deadlines. The one who is late, usually does not have time for preparation, can lower the morale of the workplace and sends a message of irresponsibility.

Richard Branson shared a story that when he was a teenager, he had kept his father waiting for an event, and his father pulled him aside and said: “is your time so much more important than everybody else’s here, that you can so casually be late?” To date, Richard Branson has not been late when it has been in his control.

Thomas Chandler Haliburton once said that “punctuality is the soul of business”. Punctuality shows that you are serious, organized and respectful of other people’s time and their value. Punctuality conveys dedication towards your role, honoring the responsibility and builds a positive image of commitment and professionalism.

Punctuality is an Excellent Human Virtue

Being punctual speaks of a person’s respect for others. When we give respect to others, we can earn it in turn. Being on time demonstrates meeting deadlines, timeliness and assures clients they can count on you to get the job done. When you are on time for meetings, conference calls, and shift changes, you demonstrate to others that you have team-centered work goals and you respect co-workers and clients. 

Your willingness to make every effort to complete your work on time, helps you establish your reputation as a dependable and consistent worker. As a leader, you demonstrate that you value employees as a member of the team, and you are committed to their success.

Being on time demonstrates integrity. Leaders must say what they mean and mean what they say. They live up to their word and follow through on commitments. By arriving on time and delivering your commitments demonstrates that you are dependent and can be trusted. This leads to growth.

The Impact of Being Late

Being on time, or not, is based on your values. The Blue Jeans Network reported that 81% of meetings fail to start on time. When a leader establishes a pattern of accepting tardiness, productivity decreases, and time is wasted for other people. ABC News reported that 15-20% of the U.S. population is consistently late. 

Here are several negative effects that a lack of punctuality can have on others.

  • When leaders arrive consistently late, they can signal to others that you lack the ability to self-control and project incompetence. People will often construe lateness as a form of rudeness to those who are waiting for you. 
  • People may perceive that you don’t value their time, therefore not valuing them.
  • An internal and external chaos may be created within the leader as a result of not being punctual. This can be reflected in how you conduct yourself during your meeting.
  • When leaders are consistently late or excessively tardy, your working relationships with colleagues, clients and managers can be strained. 
  • When the lack of planning impacts on the amount of time you need to do your work, something will fall through the cracks or be left undone. By decreasing the amount of time for you to deliver your role, you increase the chances that you will make mistakes and miss deadlines. If you don’t finish assigned tasks, your productivity and performance can suffer. 
  • If you can’t be trusted to be on time, why would a client trust you with their money? Nobody wants to start a business meeting with an apology. Being on time places you in a position of being calm and collected and allows you to make a great impression by showing the other person you respect their valuable time.

7 Tips to Help Increase Punctuality

If you find yourself being guilty of consistently being late, then there are things you can shift to adopt the habit of being on time.

1. Make a Conscious Decision to Be on Time

The first step is recognizing that you have a punctuality problem. Acknowledging that you have developed a bad habit, allows you to make an informed decision to shift the negative impact on your career and your relationships.

2. Shift Your Mindset

Being early is a sign of being organized. It demonstrates that you have respect for others. By shifting your thinking to “all important people are punctual” will change your thinking and place you in a prime position to demonstrate how you value others and yourself.

3. Recognize Why Being Punctual is a Priority 

When you want to create a new habit, having clarity as to the reasons why you want to build that practice will assist you in adopting a new habit and making it stick. One way is to identify what the costs are if you continue to keep the pattern and then on the flip side what you will gain by breaking through tardiness. Some examples may be – ‘being on time may reduce your stress, reduce friction with your co-workers and reinforce to your manager that you are committed to your role and reliable’. This could place you in a position for a promotion. Get clear on the benefits as they will support you to stay in your lane.

4. Determine How Long It Takes to Perform Certain Tasks

Often people who arrive late to work, struggle to determine how long it takes them to perform specific tasks. For instance, it may take them 30 minutes to get ready in the morning when the reality is it takes them a lot longer than that. One way to break through maybe to identify all the tasks that you need to complete in the morning to arrive on time for work.

An alternate way is to invest a week tracking how long it takes to complete each of these tasks, to determine accurately how much time is required for you to arrive at your morning destination on time. Set up reminders for appointments an hour before you must leave and incorporate a 15-minute reminder before you must go. Timers can be gold as a prompt to keep you focused on where you need to be.

5. Morning Rituals

Preparation is the key to punctuality. One way to place you in a prime position to arrive on time at work is to set yourself up from the night by organizing what you will wear, organizing breakfast and preparation of meetings. Give yourself enough cushion time in case something goes wrong. The best strategy to avoid being late is to plan to be early. Today, there are so many technology options to remind yourself to stop doing something else and begin your next activity on time.

6. Triggers Initiate Habits

Identify the situations that lead you to decide, rather than reacting to a request. By hitting the pause button, you allow yourself to breathe and consider an alternate response. A response may be “let me check my calendar and get back to you”. Slow down your brain and do a reality check. When you hit the pause button, it allows you to identify your current priorities, especially when your calendar is full. No one can do everything. Saying no can be a challenge; however, when you recognize the triggers that lead you to over-commit, you can make wiser choices.

7. Be Brutal with Your To-Do List

If your schedule is unrealistic, how could you be on time for anything? Sometimes it is better to say ‘no’ to something rather than say ‘yes’ to appease others and be late. Once you identify what your list looks like, ruthlessly cut out anything that is not a priority. One strategy is using the Eisenhower matrix for organizing tasks and acting.

By using the matrix, you separate your actions based on 4 options:

  • Important but not urgent tasks that you can schedule later
  • Urgent, but not crucial as the tasks you can delegate to someone else
  • Neither urgent nor important, therefore you will have tasks that you can eliminate. 

The beauty of this matrix is that you apply it to broad productivity plans such as ‘how can I spend my time each week?’ right through to smaller, daily plans to ‘what must l do today?’.

Making Punctuality a Priority in the Workplace

Being on time takes a little planning. When you care about being somewhere, you will make it happen. When employees are on time, it communicates to others that they can trust and rely on you. It offers insight into how you view yourself and others. Learning the importance of punctuality or being consistently on time, or perhaps even early, is a simple way to distinguish yourself apart from the crowd.

Are you interested in making your workplace more efficient? Check out what Eden’s Workplace Management Platform can do for your office.

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