Being on Time Matters

If you’ve read this blog a long time you may know that I attended High School at a Military Academy. The staff there, many of which were military leaders were VERY big on being on time. My first day in the building as I entered another kid was coming out…of the window above me. He was tossed out the window for being late. 

During my four years there lots of kids were expelled for being late. They taught us that being late was bad, very very bad. They also taught us that absolutely no excuse was acceptable. Nope, not even dying. I remember one of the Sargents telling me that if I died then I better have someone prepared to drag my dead body into school on time because there were things he could do to a dead person that weren’t very pleasant. 

I was 14 years old at the time, I can still hear his voice. It made a lasting impression on me and from that day on I knew without a doubt that being on time matters.

For the record, the school is still alive and turning out future leaders but I don’t think they can get away with stuff like that anymore…which apparently is good. Okay, okay, it’s good.

When it comes to time there seems to be two major groups of people. Those who believe being on time matters and those who believe it matters that other people be on time. There are always a few exceptions, some people for instance just don’t think being on time should matter at all. They make no effort to be on time and they don’t worry about sitting around wasting time waiting for someone else to show up to an appointment or meeting. I REALLY try hard to avoid those people, they will never reach their potential in life and they could even prevent me from reaching mine.

So which group are you in? 

The group that expects other people to be on time but refuse to hold themselves to the same standard are very frustrating for me. They are thieves. Yep, thieves, they steal from me one of my most vital assets, time. Every minute spent waiting for them is a minute I can’t get back. I could have used that minute in pursuit of one of my goals. I could have invested it with someone who valued my time far more than the person I’m waiting for. If you don’t want to be a thief then be on time.

People who make other people wait don’t think of it this way but they are being selfish. They could be on time, they simply choose not to be. If you don’t agree that timeliness is a choice then consider how many times you’ve been 5 or 10 minutes late. People who are frequently a few minutes late could easily set their alarms 10 minutes earlier. They could leave the house 10 minutes earlier. They could stop hitting the snooze button. They choose to do none of that, they choose to be late. They choose to let other people wait on them. That’s selfish. 

At it’s core being late is an attitude issue. It shows you value your own comfort and convenience over other people’s. It is disrespectful.

People who highly value being on time send a completely different message to those around them. They send a message that says I value my time AND yours. They show they can be trusted and counted on. They demonstrate that their word means something. People who are always on time show they can manage their lives and that they will do what they say they will. 

No matter how laid back your company and your boss may appear to be they are paying attention to your ability to be on time. They are watching to see if you hit deadlines or let them go whizzing past. They want to know if the precious asset of time matters to you because if it doesn’t then it’s likely other precious resources won’t matter to you either. 

Remember, if a meeting starts at 9:00am and you waltz in at 9:01 then you are late. Always get there early cause if you’re early, it’s impossible to be late. 

Why It Always Feels Like You’re Short on Time

First we should be clear on one thing, just in case you have doubts. No one in the world has more time than you. You get 1440 minutes each day, no more and no less, exactly like everyone else.

The secret to having “more” time is making productive use of those 1440 minutes.

Sometimes we do things because we like doing them. We are not concerned with getting a return on our investment of time. That’s okay, we all do that sometimes. The difference is, the most successful people know they are doing it. They are okay with making the trade of valuable time to do something solely for personal enjoyment.

That’s called relaxation and I’ve been told it’s actually good for you.

Less successful people do that too and that’s not the problem. The problem is that they don’t distinguish between busy and productive. That means all of their 1440 minutes is available for doing whatever they like. They may convince themselves that if they are busy then they are also productive but they are two very different things. It’s also the primary reason they always feel short on time.

Being busy spends time. You may work incredibly hard all day but at the end of the day you have a hard time placing your finger on exactly what you accomplished. You also can’t clearly articulate why what you were trying to do needed to be done. That’s not a very rewarding feeling.

Being productive invests time. You don’t work any harder than the busy person but at the end of the day you can point to exactly what you accomplished. You can see how your efforts from the day got you closer to one of your goals and that’s a very rewarding feeling. It energizes you to be even more productive the next day.

Which brings us to the real key to having more time. That key is goals.

I submit to you that if you don’t do something to get closer to a goal each day, either personal or professional, then you are not productive. No matter how busy you may be.

If you’re busy all the time and still never seem to get much accomplished then it will always feel as if you’re short on time. In fact, since you’re not able to point to anything tangible that you’ve accomplished there will never be enough time. You will never have enough time until you realize that you’re spending your time instead of investing it.

So you NEED goals. I can virtually guarantee that if you’re always feeling short on time that you do not have a formal goal setting process in place. How many things do you do each day that are urgent? How many of those urgent things are actually important? How many of them don’t need to be done at all?

How many things do you do frequently that offer you absolutely no return for the use of your time? Unless you’re consciously doing those things for relaxation (which I would argue is a great return on the use of your time) they don’t need to be done.

So it appears my next post needs to be about setting attainable goals. That will help you get more done and still have time left over to invest in pure, guiltless relaxation.

Now you…and me, know what my next post will focus on.