Chronic lateness is like an illness, beginning with a few symptoms that grow into a full-blown sickness. It starts with casual
things, such as meeting friends for dinner 20 minutes late or going to a movie and missing the previews. Before you know it,
you’re sneaking in the back door of the conference room and apologizing to your staff. According to a 2006 survey by Proudfoot
Consulting, American CEOs are late to eight out of every 10 meetings-resulting in $90 billion in lost productivity.
Lateness is time wasted and, despite the consequences, it’s often a difficult habit to break. Battling it takes more than
setting the clocks 10 minutes fast (that never works). Stop making up excuses and start managing your time with these helpful
1. Don’t plan to be exactly on time. Murphy’s Law tells us everything that can go wrong will go wrong. So
if you always plan to be 15 minutes early, you can run behind schedule with situations beyond your control (traffic, angry
client, etc.) and still be on time.
2. Be realistic when estimating how much time certain tasks will take. Travel time is only one factor. Include
everything in your calculations-from getting ready, sending that last e-mail and preparing any necessary documents to traffic
delays, finding parking and walking to the actual destination. Also, if you’re going to a place you’ve never been before,
make sure to add another 10 to 15 minutes to give yourself time to find the location.
3. Stay organized. The less time you spend looking for your car keys, the better chance you have of getting
out the door in a timely manner. Keep your wallet, keys, purse, briefcase and anything else you need every day in one location
at home. The same rule can be applied at work. If you know you have a presentation coming up, have all your notes and handouts
ready to go in one location. When the time comes, you can simply grab everything and go.
4. Block off a period of the day for time-consuming tasks. Technology like smart phones and laptops make
us available to everyone 24 hours a day. If you have clients and colleagues who require in-person meetings, you can’t be a
slave to your cell phone. Carve out a block of time in your planner every day to return phone calls and respond to e-mail.
This way, you won’t get caught up with long conference calls or last-minute memos.
5. Work ahead of deadlines. When you get an assignment, start it immediately. People who work solely to meet
deadlines often procrastinate until the last moment-convincing themselves that they work better under pressure. Deadlines
become irrelevant when you work on things early, says Laura Stack in her book Leave the Office Earlier: The Productivity Pro
Shows You How to Do More in Less Time… and Feel Great About It. Deadlines are for people who would not complete their
work without them, she adds.