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What is Punctuality?

How many times have you waited for someone who was late?  Were you worried, angry, frustrated, stressed, or wondered why that person didn’t value your time?

How many times have you been late?  What did you think and feel?  Of course, you had the perfect excuse – you always do.  Did you think “it’s no big deal, everyone’s late,” or “no one expects me to be on time, it’s just the way I am,” or “I really wanted to be on time, something just came up”?

Research shows that 14% of students are late to class at least once a week.  28% fall asleep in class, which is just another way of “not showing up.”  Nearly 30% of employees show up late for work.

There are consequences!  Coming in late to class or work throws others off focus.  Grades suffer.  Productivity decreases.   You become known as unreliable, or disrespectful, or simply rude.  Some people do not tolerate others being late and write them off immediately.  In an interview, it can be the difference between getting hired or not.  In business, it can result in the loss of a client or your job.   41% of companies have fired employees for being late.

Punctuality means being on time in everything you do, whether it’s showing up on time, or getting a task, project, or paper completed when you promised it would be done.

Being punctual is not a “built-in” trait; it is a learned skill.

Many people who are chronically late don’t mean to be.  Many are multi-taskers who underestimate how long a task will take.  Others don’t have a good concept of time – some people feel that 5 minutes have passed when it’s only been three; others (the late comers) think only 5 minutes have passed, when it was actually 7 or 10.

If you’re one of the “late” population, how can you change?  How do you develop Punctuality skills?

  • Reset your concept of “On Time.” Think of “on-time” as being 10 to 15 minutes early for everything.  Make being a time a priority.
  • Think about “Value” and “Respect.” If you value your school and workplace, you will be on time.  If you respect the person you are going to see, you will make an effort to show that respect.
  • Track how long things actually take. How long to get ready – showering, dressing, finding your smart phone, reading the news or new texts.  How long does it take to get to your destination if the traffic is bad?  Set your alarm to give you enough time to not be rushed.
  • Prepare the night before. Pick out clothes, prepare your lunch, put your book bag or briefcase by the door, set up the coffee maker, and decide what you will have for breakfast before you go to bed.
  • Put down your computer, smart phone, or gaming system and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Then Jump out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off.  No more pressing the snooze button.  The extra 10 minutes can make the difference between being on time and being late.
  • If necessary, set another alarm to make sure you leave on time. If you don’t leave on time, it’s unlikely you will arrive.

If all of this doesn’t work, write down why you were late – what happened in your routine, what took longer than anticipated?  Can you prevent it from happening again, or do you have to adjust your time line?

Punctuality is appreciated.  You’ll be recognized as a disciplined, dependable, respectful student.  It is a sign of professionalism and reliability, and trustworthiness in the workforce.  It will make you a more organized and happier person.

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