Intentional Dad | Exceptional Life

Be late for the last time

by Steve on June 17, 2010 · 0 comments

“Better be three hours too soon than one minute too late.” – William Shakespeare

When I was in the Navy, they’d say, “five minutes early is five minutes late”.  The military takes being on time seriously.  Then, I was on time to everything.  Timeliness was important to me.

Now, here I am, five years later and 5-10 minutes late to everything.

What happened?

Was it the baby?  My wife?  My crazy job at the start-up?

I’m sure those reasons played a part, but I have to face the truth – I am selfish.

Constantly thinking that I don’t have enough of time, I chip away at the few moments other people give me of theirs.

So far, everyone has graciously forgiving my tardiness, but I can almost hear them thinking, “Who does he think he is?”

Here’s why I’m changing my ways:

  1. Being late is selfish. By being late, I’m saying that my time is more important than the time of the person waiting for me.  Whether it’s a business meeting, a lunch, pick up of the kids or getting home when I said I would, people are waiting on me.  Because I’m late, I make people adjust to my schedule.
  2. Tardiness is a terrible character trait. I don’t want to be known as the guy who’s always late.  It damages my credibility and makes people wonder if they can count on me?
  3. Lateness effects my work. According to Diana DeLonzor, author of “Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged”, managers were less likely to promote a late person. They saw it both as a morale problem and lost dollars (see story at SeattlePI.com).
  4. It’s annoying. If I’m late to pick up the kids, they sit and wait while their friends leave. If I’m late to get home, my wife waits and is probably unhappy that I didn’t do what I promised.  I don’t want to deal with that at home.

Here are my thoughts on how to be intentional about being on time.

  1. Recognize that I’m not the center of the universe. I don’t like to wait for other people.  I shouldn’t make them wait for me.  It’s not worth the damage to my reputation or the stress it causes to constantly need to apologize for my tardiness.
  2. Set my clocks ahead. I know it’s lame. Really, who can’t remember that they set their clocks five minutes ahead.  Well, after a while, you forget.  So it works.
  3. Realize that everything takes longer than I plan for it to take and plan around that. I may be late because of traffic, finding a parking space or the waitress not bringing the check.  If I schedule into my calendar 1.5 hours for lunch when I know that it will only take 1 hour, then I have a cushion to work with.  That practice also keeps me from scheduling something to start to close to when another appointment finishes.
  4. Set an alarm at work that says, “STOP WORKING. GO HOME”. I can set this on my phone or on my computer.  I include a few minutes to wrap up what I’m doing, pack my briefcase, shut down my computer and walk to the car.  Add in whatever time it takes to get home and I’ll be on time.  If I can’t leave when the alarm goes off, at least I have time to call home and let my wife know.  She appreciates that.
  5. Prioritize. The reality is that I have too much going on.  You may too.  The best way to get it all done is to not do as much.  Penelope Trunk says in her blog post, Five ways to stop being late, “face the reality that you cannot get your whole list done. Figure out what’s most important and just get that done.”  So true.

Do you relate?  Is this you?  My guess is that it could be.  I hope these ideas are helpful.  Let me know what you think.

Be the Intentional Dad.

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