Being on time, or being late, is habitual. People who are on time are rarely late, and people who are often late rarely get any place early. For latter group, it is almost a curse. This article explains the character of being on time.


Being on time is more than an issue of character; it also says something to whomever it be that you are meeting with. Being late sends a message. Being perpetually late sends an even deeper message—intended or not.

Being on time says:

• That you care.
• That the person you are meeting is important.
• That the reason for the meeting is important.
• That you want to be there.

Being late often sends the opposite message. This may be unintentional, but the negative message is sent nonetheless. Worse, if you play an integral part in the meeting and are late, you have let the others down.


Determine To Arrive 15 Minutes Early

This is a minimum. NEVER try to get somewhere right on time. Show up early, wait a bit if you need to, but never try to arrive exactly at the time you ought to be there. Always try to get there at least 15 minutes early.

People who are perpetually late only see the start time of the appointment as important. This is not true. No matter what the appointment is, I aim to be there 15 minutes early. To me an 8:00 pm appointment starts at 7:45 pm – every time!

That 15 minute period is not a grace period. If I show up to that 8:00 pm appointment at 7:46 pm, I consider myself late. Until you make it a law to yourself to be there at least 15 minutes early, you will struggle being on time. Some, who claim they do this, feel that the 15 minutes is more of a free zone, that they can arrive at any time within that zone and feel safe. This is losing strategy.

Focus On When You Have To Leave

This is really the key to being on time. People who are perpetually late usually do not possess a firm awareness of time. They will look at the clock, realize that too much time has passed, and then scramble around trying to get everything done before they leave. They leave too late and thus arrive too late.

If you are looking at a 15 minute transit time to an 8:00 appointment, then you need to set your ‘leave time’ at 7:30 pm. This ‘leave time’ needs to fill your awareness so that your consciousness of the current time gives you an understanding of all you need to do so that you are not late to your ‘leave time’.

Too many people see only the 8:00 time in an 8:00 appointment. This mentality usually leads to being late. You need to become conscious of the time it takes you to get ready to leave. You need to know the variables involved in preventing you from leaving on time. How long does it take to help get the children ready? How much time do you have to eat? Do you need to stop anywhere along the way? What are traffic conditions like near the time of your appointment? What lose ends need to be tied up before you can leave?

Knowing the variables around you will help you keep your ‘leave time’. If you can leave on time, you will arrive on time. You may have to adjust your ‘leave time’ according to the answer to the above variables. Either way, the ‘leave time’ is what you always focus on.

I always establish my ‘leave time’ for any appointment. That is the time that I focus on—not the appointment time. Everything I do is to help me leave on time. Once I leave on time, I will arrive on time. There have been many instances where I just dropped everything I was doing when a ‘leave time’ approached. Sometimes, I have to have my children drop everything and just leave. But it knowing where your ‘leave time’ is that is essential to making this work.

Too often it is 7:30 and you still think you have 30 minutes of leeway to your 8:00 meeting. This is not true. If you haven’t left by 7:30, then you are late. That is how you must look at it to gain the character of being on time.

Author's Bio: 

Greg S. Baker is a Pastor, Counselor, and Author specializing in building and strengthening relationships.

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