There are few professional skills that are more fundamental or more important for your reputation than running on time. Here’s a tip for keeping yourself to a schedule.
It’s difficult to overestimate just how much it matters to arrive promptly for appointments at the time you’ve agreed to. This is one of the elements of getting people to trust you, and there is incredible power in keeping your word.
We’ve all experienced somebody else arriving late for one of our meetings. Even if we said “that’s okay” when they apologized, we’d really have preferred they were there on time. And it’s not as if this is a new problem. In Lewis Carroll’s 1865 book, Alice in Wonderland, a white rabbit pulls a watch from his waistcoat and frantically squeals, “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”
Are you a White Rabbit? Are you constantly late to business meetings and appointments with clients? While being late may seem “fashionable” to some, to the majority of people, it can be viewed as inconsiderate, disrespectful and sometimes, insulting.
If you have a serious time management problem that results in you being late or missing appointments, there’s a good chance it can negatively impact your business. You and your business can suffer from:
- Increased stress – If you’re running around like your hair is on fire, your stress levels are basically guaranteed to go up.
- Damaged reputation – Consistently being late affects other people’s impression of you. It implies you don’t respect the other person’s time and makes you unreliable.
- Missed opportunities – When you don’t show up to an appointment or they leave while waiting for you, it’s possible you may not get another chance with the person you were supposed to meet.
- Lost revenue – Prospective clients may take their business elsewhere if they feel they can’t rely on you.
There are also ripple effects beyond your immediate customer base. You probably know of people who are “habitually late” even if you’ve not had an appointment with them yourself in years. What to do?
How to Avoid Being Late
One time management solution that can help you become more organized and be where you need to be (and of course, on time) is a digital reminder system. There are several electronic or digital reminder software programs available on the market. These programs or apps can be downloaded on to your computer and other electronic devices. You can use the one built into your electronic calendar, but if punctuality is a problem for you, consider an extra system just to help you stay on point.
When you schedule an appointment or task, you can set up an alert for a specific date and time. When the associated event approaches, the app can send you a reminder by email, text message or pop-up, on-screen notice. Some programs can even fire off an audible alarm or make your device vibrate.
What to Do If Being Late Can’t Be Avoided
The worst thing you can do besides not showing up at all—is to arrive late with no notice. The moment you realize you won’t be on time is the moment you should reach out.
Be sure to give them an updated estimate, and include some extra buffer time. That way if there’s another delay, you don’t necessarily need to call them again.
No Longer a White Rabbit
By using a digital reminder app, you’ll be able to manage your appointments more efficiently. This will save you from headaches, embarrassment and lost business in the long run. And by reaching out to apologize when you are running late, you’ll help other people plan better. So don’t be like the White Rabbit! Be seen as a reliable professional whom others want to do business with.