You try to be on time. You wake up early everyday. Last night, you prepared your outfit and lunch for today to buy you more time but for some reason, you are here again. Standing in front of your supervisor trying to explain why you were ten minutes late to work, the lies are coming out of your mouth as if you are giving a true account of events, but your thoughts are miles away attempting to understand how you woke up at 6am but still got to work late. I can take the guilt away from you a little by saying to you that it is not completely your fault. For many of us, our parents, guardians and teachers did a bad job with raising us to keep to time. Their weak attempt at teaching us a little bit about punctuality was getting us to school early but they did that because they had to show up and start work themselves.
However, you are now an adult and no one cares about your childhood trauma enough to acknowledge it as a good reason for such bad behaviour. It has cost some of us jobs, relationships, better living opportunities, money, and even happiness. In spite of your knowledge of the dis-benefits of tardiness, here you are getting scolded by your boss for the fibs you have been telling for the past three months to explain your lateness. She is getting sick of it, and you are scared of losing your job.
If you take a few minutes to reflect on why you are late very often, you will come to realize that it is, more often than not, your fault. Honestly, you have never seen the importance of punctuality. You are only ever worried about being on time when the individual or event on the other end is someone or something important like an appointment at the VISA office. But for everything else, you are late. If you cannot see the value of punctuality in relaxed situations such as meeting a friend for drinks, attending events, or meeting a personal deadline where you have a considerable control over your time, how will you learn to practice it effectively in more stressful situations?
Punctuality goes beyond showing up on time. It is being present and prepared to meet and act at an agreed time. It is doing what needs to done, how it should be done, when it needs to be done.
Showing up late to your own appointment, date, meeting, or delaying a response to the request of another individual shows a lack of self-respect, professionalism, and is a way of saying to the affected individual that your time is more valuable than theirs. Keeping another person waiting for you means that you have assumed temporary control of their lives; their actions and decisions during that period are shaped by your presence or absence.
“Lateness showed that serene contempt for the illusion we call time which is so necessary to ensure the respect of others and oneself” — Rose Macaulay
Against this selfish act, photographer Felix Nadar writes:
‘Hold on first, without wavering, to a rigorous punctuality, and remain ruthless to all latecomers, whatever the cost’
You must hold yourself accountable for how you utilize your time. A good and honest understanding of how long it takes you to complete tasks, commute various distances, e.t.c and your readiness to attend to whatever seeks your attention will help you manage your time effectively. You must discipline yourself to choose efficiency over flexibility and short-lived comfort more often. Over time as you imbibe the habit of punctuality and practice it resolutely, you will be pleasantly surprised at how well and quickly many of your poor relationships and faulty systems that have been affected by this inexcusable behavior will be corrected.