Those of you who usually arrive late know who you are… the people you're inconveniencing also know who you are. So we'll save the point counterpoint discussion regarding being late for another article and offer ways to get your attractive face, magnetic personality, and vital intelligence to places on time.
First you need to firmly embrace what on time means. On time is to say you're in position and ready to contribute on the appointed clock time. Meetings that begin at 9:30 have you in place and done chatting by 9:25-28. Think of your commitments as European trains that leave so precisely on time that you could set your clock by them. Picture a meeting starting without you giving you that pit in the stomach feeling of you standing on the platform while the train pulls away. In other words, missing the train and beginning of meetings is not negotiable. You have to be there when it starts.
Practice exit strategies so you leave previous meetings or events far enough in advance to get where you have to go next early. Exit strategies include telling your co-workers when you must leave at the beginning of the meeting so they work to that deadline at the end of the meeting. It includes the whole set of interruption interceptions covered elsewhere here. Exit strategies include respectful lines that allow you to leave such as, "Thanks for the update, I have another meeting in 10 minutes and it's 8 minutes away so I have got to wrap this up now and get on my way. I look forward to our next conversation."
Ignore your email when you're passing your desk between meetings. Chances are you will want to write a quick reply, leave a brief voicemail response, or note a reminder on your action list. This attention to the email master (you're the slave) is a frequent obstacle to people getting places on time.
Do not set your watch ahead. Some people put their watch 10 minutes ahead as a way to fool themselves to being on time. In reality you know that you have built the '10 minute cushion' into your watch time and you consistently accommodate that reality. There is the additional complication of knowing what your watch says compared to those in public places or your counterpart's. Get real – set your watch on the time your computer has.
Use alarms in your calendar. Whether you're a PC or MAC user your calendar has an alarm function. When you set a meeting, include an alarm reminding you to get on your way to the meeting on time. If you work on a campus where you might have to go to another building, calculate travel, parking, and walking time when you schedule the meeting, add 5 minutes, and have your alarm ring that far in advance. Maria works on a campus and sometime she walks to the next building, 4 minutes away. Other times she has to get in the car and drive over a busy highway and sit through 6 stoplights to get to another building. She must plan 10 minute departure for the close building and 20 minutes for the distant building. Doing the planning in advance to set the alarm ensures she is free to work right up to departure time and she does the calculation once.
For you who are usually latecomers, visualize the possible surprise and probable appreciative recognition you'll receive for arriving on time (or 5 minutes early).