Our punctuality (or lack thereof) reflects how we feel about others. Through punctuality (or tardiness), we show respect (or disrespect) and send the message that we do (or do not) take our duties seriously. When we’re on time, we can be trusted to honor our responsibilities. When we say, “I’ll be there in ten minutes,” people can rely on our commitment and plan accordingly. Consistent punctuality helps us enjoy relationships based on trust, the kind of associations we’d like for our children.
Disadvantages of Being Late
Among a long list of disadvantages, latecomers are more likely to be under-prepared and under-pressure. Tardiness conveys disrespect and unreliability. By making others wait, we steal one of the most valuable resources in the universe: time. If we cause someone to cut their workout short or skip reading a story with their children, our lateness negates that person’s sacrifice and wastes time they will never get back.
Anyone can master punctuality. Anyone. Sometimes, people have every intention of being on time, but there are deeper issues at play. Some folks misperceive the passage of time and underestimate how long things realistically take. Some folks have poor attention spans, allowing avoidable distractions to take them off-course and drop the ball on their commitments. Some folks habitually procrastinate, inviting crisis mode as their way of life. Some folks struggle with the murky waters of addiction, such as drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, etc. These compulsive dependencies pollute the mind and hold the addict hostage to several negative domino effects, one of which is a tendency to be late.
For people who struggle with anxiety and depression, fear of social engagement casts a great shadow—turmoil that dwarfs any concerns about being on time. Other people view punctuality as conformity to living a mediocre life. Using habitual tardiness to avoid “conforming” isn’t as much “non-conformist” as it is “just plain selfish.” These kinds of passive-aggressive behaviors are impoverished attempts at individuality, camouflaging fears about not making our own mark. If we want to break free from the crowd, we should be on time, follow our passions, be resourceful, and work towards creating the life we want.
As with most habits, let’s acknowledge that our mindset determines our approach, which then influences our outcome. We don’t break bad habits; we replace them with new ones. Excuses serve only as a rationalization to soothe the dissonance between who we are and who we want to be. Harness the powers of concentration. Stay on task, build up mental discipline, and develop the super simple competency of “awareness of time and timing.” Punctuality is either important… or it is not.
Don’t think of punctuality as doing someone a favor. Own that being on-time shows that we honor our word and that we possess integrity. Use the power of conviction to shift motivations from external (deadlines) to internal (pursuit of excellence). Recognize the benefits of punctuality: the satisfaction of self-mastery and control over our own lives.
Revisit possible misperceptions about the passage of time by retraining our minds to recognize and respect the entire process correctly and accurately. Truthfully understand which moving parts impact time and timing. We can all make plans—when we say we’ll do something—do it.
According to Father Time, there is no difference between “valuable” time and “wasted” time. Redefine “wasted time” as “guilt-free, quality-time-with-myself time.” Lots of successful people carry books for reading on the ready. Others scribble about dreams and goals on their clipboards and journals, writing, making lists, and poking away at back-burner goals. Moments spent waiting for someone can be repurposed into creating a better life. Whether early or on time, we win. When returning home, keep keys, wallet, cell phone, etc. in set places to avoid the morning scramble.
The importance of punctuality can vary from one culture to another. In the United States, punctuality is a fundamental imperative. In some parts of Latin America, Africa, and the Pacific Islands, life moves at a slower pace; agreed-upon meeting times are often accompanied by a mutual respect for flexibility.
Sometimes, we don’t want to be early. Everyone is different; we may have friends who wait until the last minute to get ready. As appropriate, shoot for arriving right on time or even a minute or two before. Certain social situations introduce varying complexity and sometimes too early can be inappropriate. A good rule of thumb is to consider whether arriving early could cause awkwardness and/or force someone’s attention from preparing to feeling compelled to entertain our early arrival.
South African author, Mokokoma Mokhonoana, wrote, “You cannot respect someone but disrespect their time.” Being punctual sets precedence for whether someone will honor their responsibilities, demonstrates respect for others, and is an essential character trait to instill in our children from a very young age.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
-Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV
In this entertaining and practical book, you’ll discover the root causes of lateness and procrastination, including 7 simple secrets to managing time more effectively.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Mothers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.