“Following the Clock”: The Importance of Being Punctual

Hubs and I were recently discussing the notion of ‘being on time’ and how this seems different for many people around the world. Our immediate family alone consists of a mixing pot of French, Belgian and Australian culture, which gives us a wide (yet often confusing) idea of what is to be expected when it comes to everyday social norms. We tried to identify what we consider as ‘polite’ when it comes to our own time management and which situations can allow for some flexibility on time and which ones simply do not.

There is always the possibility of an unexpected circumstance being the cause of someone’s tardiness, and that is a valid reason. Having someone fall ill or being stuck at work is often out of our control. However, it seems that lately our society is taking punctuality for granted and a lot of us have gotten used to ‘running late’…. but is it really that unusual to ask that people do us the courtesy to simply be on time?

I wholeheartedly believe that if someone is frequently (and purposely) late, it often shows they feel their own time is more valuable than that of the person(s) waiting for them (as referenced by K. Fowler). I understand, of course, situations where life gets in the way, and do not expect any of us to strive to have that ‘perfect record’ in punctuality, but there are many occasions where we can put in the effort…

Why, in a lot of situations, being punctual is important:

1. Job interviews or anything work related (no-brainer there)
It shows commitment and respect of the work force and your colleagues. It demonstrates your time management skills and reliability within the team. You come off as reliable, professional and trustworthy.

2. Weddings/Special Events
A few years ago, my friend got married, and it surprised me how many guests showed up well over the 30-min late mark and some were still walking in during the actual ceremony. This is someone’s special day, and there should be no unavoidable reasons as to why people can’t be on time to share that day with them. Being late does not make you an important or special person. Whoever you are doesn’t reserve you the right to be late (unless you’re Morgan Freeman… that man is a legend and can do whatever he wants 😉

3. Dinner parties or restaurant catch-ups
Of course there can be a small window as people arrive and enjoy a pre-dinner drink. But we once had someone show up an hour late to dinner at our home. He enjoyed a glass of vodka he so casually had brought along, while the rest of us chewed down dried-up pasta and cold garlic bread. On many occasions some of us have been left waiting at the restaurant for well over 45 min because our other parties were ‘having another drink before leaving’ or ‘walking the dog’ etc. This, to me, indicated that they clearly did not respect our time, only theirs.

4. When meeting a stranger
Be it because you are selling something second-hand or you are meeting them for a friend. When meeting someone you have never met before, it is important to be on time. It reflects on your character and it’s simply just ‘the right thing to do’.

5. For the sake of your own health
When you take the necessary steps to being punctual, you eliminate stress from your own life by removing the anxiety of being late. Unless you really don’t care or are indifferent that you are late and have someone waiting for you (in that case, to me that indicates a level of selfishness and disrespect).

What can we do to improve our own ‘lateness’?

1. Simplify your life by thinking before committing to something. Dare to say ‘no’ more often if an event or time does not suit you.
2. If you have a few things planned in one day, allow yourself more time in between appointments. Avoid rushing all the way across town within a 10 minute window.
3. Stop thinking of yourself as someone who is ‘always late’. If you choose to, you can change your habits.
4. Don’t start on something that you know will make you late. If you can’t fit it in before leaving at a reasonable time, do it later.
4. Apologize if you are late. There is no need to look for senseless excuses but simply a heartfelt apology, and promise of it not occurring again, can go a long way.
5. If you know you will be late, for whichever reason, contact the other person(s) straight away so they can make alternative arrangements or show up a bit later themselves.

Nine times out of ten, the reasons for being late relate to the person not being ready or needing to finish something, and that’s where I believe change can happen!!

This post is in no means intended to put anyone down (as about 97% of the population has run late at least a few times, including yours truly) so if you are someone I know (I bet a few might think I wrote this with them in mind) I swear I am not referring to one person in particular. But if anyone can take away any tips on being more punctual based on this little vent of mine, that’s enough already. And if not, well I had my little vent regardless and thanks for reading through 🙂

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