Wasting your own time is fine, if you value it so little that you carelessly choose to do so. But wasting other people’s time too is a very different matter.
Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear, Grand Tour, and Clarkson’s Farm fame is the self-professed most punctual person in the world. ‘I am an atomic clock with eyebrows and ears,’ he stated in a Sunday Times article (February 9, 2020). ‘If I say I will see you at six o’clock, I will see you at six o’clock. Not one minute past… I am never late “on account of heavy traffic” because I always assume the traffic will be heavy and adjust my departure time accordingly.’
Love him or hate him, he’s in good company when it comes to punctuality.
Mahatma Ghandi valued time so highly that even operating within India’s notoriously relaxed attitude to timekeeping, he frequently consulted a pocket watch that he wore attached by a safety pin and a piece of string to his dhoti, and was fastidious about punctuality.
Author Charles Dickens once said, ‘I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time. I owe all my success in life to having been always a quarter of an hour before my time.’
Business mogul Richard Branson says, ‘If you want to be more productive, then start at the start: get there on time. Whether it is a meeting, a flight, an appointment or a date, it’s important to ensure you are there when you say you will be there. This may feel like an old-fashioned tip to give, but it has served me well for five decades in business.’
What habitual lateness says about a person
If you’re the kind of person who is habitually late, a common cause is miscalculating how long it takes to do something or how many tasks you can squeeze into a particular period of time.
The problem with this, if other people are involved, is that arriving late wastes their time. It sends the message that you don’t respect them because you consider your time to be more important than theirs.
It also says you’re not trustworthy because if you can’t be relied on to be on time, you may be unreliable in other ways too. Friends may make allowances for your lateness, but it will affect the depth of your relationship with them. And if you are habitually late in work situations too, it will affect your reputation professionally.
The consequences of lateness
Occasionally being late in some circumstances is understandable and forgivable. A sincere apology may be all that is needed.
However, it can still sometimes result in dire consequences. An appointment with destiny can be missed and may not come around again for a very long time, or possibly ever.
If only there was a way to know the difference between being late for something that really doesn’t matter or something that will change the course of your life. The problem is that the significance of an event usually doesn’t become apparent until after it has happened – and sometimes long after – by which time it’s too late to change it.
The benefits of being timely
Being timely is a much happier and far less stressful way of life than frequently running late. Not timely in a neurotic or anxious way, of course, but calmy and considerately.
When you need to be somewhere at a certain time, allow extra time for unexpected delays on your journey. Get used to arriving early and use the time to become more aware of your surroundings and have a more meaningful experience because of that.
When you make an appointment with someone to have an online meeting, arrive in the waiting room five minutes early.
When you have a task that needs to be completed by a certain date, don’t procrastinate. Get into the habit of tackling it much earlier than the deadline, so you can be sure to finish it on time.
Time is the most valuable commodity we have. The more you practise being punctual, the more you will value your own time and other people’s time too. Don’t expect to be able to make a difference in the world unless you can at least show up on time!
Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2023
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