Maryellen, a small-business owner, was frustrated by the chronic lateness of a valued employee. She'd given Fred repeated warnings about the problem and eventually had to set an example for the rest of her staff by letting him go. She did so reluctantly; she'd sorely miss his expertise, and his job search would likely be tough given the current market.
Lateness takes many forms. For some, it's chronic. For others, it's less frequent but still a hindrance in their day-to-day lives. Here are some things to keep in mind in the face of chronic tardiness:
Notice what happens right before you're late: For some people the problem is trying to do too much at the last minute. Others underestimate the time it takes to reach their destination. In either case, you need to pay attention to how long activities and travel time really take, plan them into your schedule, and refuse to deviate from your plan.
Prepare in advance: For the perpetually late this means having everything in place the night before your commitment. If you wait until morning, you may wind up running late.
Don't take on more than you can handle: Some of the brightest and most capable people I've known are chronically late because they are over-achievers. To them, saying "no" means admitting weakness or failure. Recognize that saying "no" to commitments you can't keep isn't weak; it's pragmatic.
Technology hurts: Technology has increased the ease of multi-tasking, allowing us to be involved in many more things at the same time. Unfortunately, technology also causes constant interruptions which can encourage an already time-challenged individual to run even further behind schedule. Develop a new habit -- well before an appointment, put down your techno device. This will force you to focus and could prevent you from running late.
Technology helps: If you are running late, however, your Smartphone might actually come in handy.The Smartphone application "Twist" allows you to alert friends, family members and colleagues when you are running late. It calculates your estimated time of arrival based on your location and automatically sends off text messages or emails to the folks waiting for you.
"Running late," another app, allows you to synch with your calendar, reminding you of upcoming meetings and appointments.
Avoid career and job damage: Realize that when you're late for a business meeting, you've already put your client or colleague in the power seat. They've had the time to sit, gather their thoughts and composure, and watch you rush toward them, apology-laden and frazzled.