Edited excerpt from How to Be On Time Every Time by Dustin Wax:
A lot of the time we let ourselves show up late because the event we’re showing up to isn’t all that important to us. Try this: don’t schedule events that aren’t that important to you. Use that time for things that are important to you.
I know, there are a lot of things in your life that feel obligatory, like the weekly status report meeting at work, or dinner at your spouse’s or partner’s parents. Either make those things important to you, or figure out how to cut them from your calendar.
(1) The article then lists some useful suggestions for how to be more punctual, such as: not checking your email or voicemail right before you leave; adding 25% to your time estimate to get anywhere or do any task; getting everything ready for morning meetings the night before; and entering appointments 10 mins early in your calendar.
(2) But I think the insight quoted above is more important. We’re often late to events because we’re ambivalent about whether we really want to be there (or whether they justify the time including travel). Dustin Wax’s solution is to force ourselves to decide: either attend with a full heart and arrive on time, or say “no”.
(3) Reasons to “do it right or not at all”: latecomers hurt the productivity of everyone who has to wait, and demoralize the people who turn up on time and make them feel disrespected. And in Dustin’s words, “people who are habitually late (or are late even once, when it counts) project incompetence, self-centeredness, and even a lack of integrity”.
(4) Related: How much of other people’s time do you waste?