How many texts or emails have you sent in the past year that excused your lateness? An occasional slip here and there happens; we don’t live in a perfect world. Traffic arrives, tyres get punctures, and perhaps the dog really did eat your report. However, if these excuses and more are occurring on a regular basis, you may need to rethink your strategy to prevent any future tardiness. With friends or family, they will expect a late arrival, but for business lunches and networking meetings, they’re business and very important. Take a look at three popular reasons for being late and what you can do.
You Say Yes Too Much
Everyone will have done this at some point or another. Someone invites you to something that is weeks from now, even months; it’s so far ahead that you don’t really need to think about it right now, and it gets swept under the rug. The problem is, the event eventually comes around and your calendar has swiftly filled up around it, leaving little to no time to get there or make a real effort. For these sorts of events, you’re more than likely to be late as one event bleeds into another and you try to create some sort of free-time block in an already saturated day.
The only way around this is to really pay attention to everything you’re being invited to. You don’t want to turn people down on the spot at every invite, but you also don’t want to end up with one of these future-forgetful events either. Ask if you can get back to them within 24 hours, and then confirm over email or phone. As you decide about the future event over the next day, assess if you actually want to commit to it. Imagine that the said-event is the next day; would you want to go or have time to? If no, then politely decline. If yes, then mark it in your calendar and give yourself notifications for it in the days leading up to it and 2 hours before; you definitely will be on time for this one.
Not Accounting For The Over-Run
Have you ever been in a meeting that lasted exactly the time allocated to it? Planned for 14:15 and finished at 15:00 on the dot sounds too good to be true. And it is. Unless you and your business associates are that strict on time-keeping, you’re always going to meet the over-run; a meeting that slides past the allocated finish time and into the dreaded pit of lateness.
With the average business calendar full to bursting, any spare time is grabbed like the last biscuit on the plate, meaning that your 14:15 that has an agreed (but unrealistic) ending at 15:00, will have the next meeting planned for 15:00…and you more than likely agreed to it. This will happen often and you will be late. It’ll be made even worse if the meeting is across town or in another building. Check in on your calendar daily and ensure that connections aren’t unrealistic or too tight. You won’t be late if you do. Also attempt not to over-schedule your week.
Not Travel Planning
Not planning for travel disruptions can definitely result in a late arrival. If your usual daily commute is before the sun has even arose and return journey when the roads have already cleared, you might expect a clear run when you leave during the day to a meeting, but this isn’t always the case. Traffic is unpredictable, particularly in cities. You may set out with good intentions to reach a meeting on time but traffic grinds you to a halt.
You may even resent the time it takes to get somewhere and consequently take offence to three Subway trains taking 90 minutes, and leave late. To work around either problem, you need to be more realistic of time taken for travel. That or rearrange a meeting online, or choose a more convenient location for both parties. Make your journey more enjoyable too; put on an audiobook and grab a coffee on the way. Watch as you become a person who is early.
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