Running Late

time-flies-clock-10-11-2006Article courtesy of Powerful Practices

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 ten 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 tips:

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 from getting ready, sending that last e-mail and preparing any necessary documents, to traffic delays, finding parking and walking to your 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.

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 mobile/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. Deadlines are for people who would not complete their work without them.
How often do you keep your clients waiting? How often are you running late? How often are you arriving long after your shift has begun? Remember, your clients time is as valuable as yours.
Honour your clients and they will Honour you.