For about a year now, I've been very punctual. Before making a concerted effort to be on time to everything, I was like any other average person-- sometimes on time, often a few minutes late, occasionally very late. When I identify something I'm bad at, especially something with a prescription that requires little more than willpower, I get very excited about it. That isn't to say that there are so few of these things that they're hard to find, just that introspection can be difficult, making identifying personal weaknesses tricky.
My initial impetus to become punctual was partly that it was an easily correctable deficiency, and partly that it seemed like a trait of a champion. Would most people I admire show up on time to things? Yes, they would.
As I thought more about it, especially during the early phases where being on time was a bit of a challenge, I realized that punctuality is more than just being on time. It's an extension of your honesty.
It is very important to me to never lie. I'm not perfect, of course, but because this is such an important thing to me, I do a good job of it most of the time. When I thought about it, though, if I say that I'm going to be somewhere at ten thirty, and I show up at ten thirty-four, that's a lie. It's a small lie, but it's a lie nonetheless. Even small lies have an effect, both on others and myself.
A more tangible way to think of this sort of honesty is to call it trustworthiness. Let's say I have two friends, Bob and Rob. Bob always shows up to everything exactly on time. Rob sometimes shows up on time, but is sometimes late. Even with no other information, I'd be more likely to trust Bob with a secret or an important task.
Being on time is also a sign of respect. I feel respected when people show up to things on time, and I know others feel the same way. If I'm not willing to show someone the respect of showing up on time, should I really even be meeting up with them?
The first part of becoming punctual, like all habits, was to have a good reason for it. After mulling the above thoughts for a while, I came to the conclusion that being late was unacceptable.
Once the mental part was taken care of, the practice of being on time is very easy. All you have to do is show up five minutes early to everything, and then just read a kindle book on your phone until it's the exact right time. This is a very basic hack that will make you appear to have perfect timing.
Sometimes you get stuck at a long red, or you have to wait for a train, or you need an extra minute to find your keys. Giving yourself that five minute buffer allows for that, meaning that on average you're "paying" only three minutes per trip to be on time. That's a minor cost to become a punctual person and never feel rushed.
This is a beautiful and true perspective. It is an extension of honesty and respect. The struggle (for me personally) is that there is such beauty in being present and being tethered to time and numbers and everything being just according to plans is restrictive in many ways. Flexibility is so worthwhile. The other thought is that being late is not always avoidable...but it is often avoidable. It's all about communication right? Would you trust 'Rob' less if he was late, but always called before hand and knew he would be late and communicated that to you with notice?
I find it very annoying and disrespectful when people are (repeatedly) late. I often joke that I am Danish so I have to be 5-10 mins early, but it is really only half-way a joke, because in Denmark people tend to be on time. Since moving to Ireland 9 months ago I have been shocked at how casual people regard being late. I had an appointment with my doctor last week, and the receptionist was shocked at how "early" I was because I turned up 10 mins before my appointment (which would be expected of you in Denmark) - in the end I had to wait 45 mins, which really frustrated me.
2 thumbs up ...for showing up : )
Embrace the guys.
Speakers showering smiles on every new attendee with ' one more : ) '... The well-appointed cool about the battles of the mind, habits and weather ...fought by those who come late ...make a happy society.
Have, strike that, make it a nice time.
Completely agree MC. It is good to be on or before time failing which informing the person in advance is the way to go. Some people even put their watches 5-15m ahead although personally I don't advocate that idea since your brain does the adjustments:)
I am a huge proponent of being on time, and being late to something (especially something important) actually gives me anxiety. I think this has a lot to do with some of the reasons you talked about, especially pertaining to respect. When someone is very late to meet me and eventually shows up without reason or apology, I feel offended. I would never want to offend someone by being late to meet them, so I often give myself that 5 minute buffer time you wrote about. I think being late occasionally is totally understandable because no one can control the universe. In those situations where you know you'll be late, taking a couple minutes to call or text the person you're meeting to let them know you'll be late is the most respectful thing you can do.
Lovely Tynan. Nice exposition. I have been touching on this subject for some 15+ years and I always learn something new everytime.
I watched Sean Connery interviewed about this once. In his glorious brogue he pronounced, "A man should never be late. It's disrespectful." For some reason, it always stayed with me. (I chose to ignore, except for anecdotal purposes, his other assertion: "Sometimes, a woman needs a light cuff.")
Being on time is savvy. Make it a game. Know that you can do x, y, z and get where you're going...right on time. Music must be on time. Be on time.
I like your "why" better than your "how" - your time buffer needs to be implemented earlier in the process. For me, tardiness generally spawns from poor planning rather than poor execution. I sometimes pack my schedule so tight that there is no reasonable margin of safety if something unexpected happens or a meeting runs late. If I want to be 5 minutes early for my next appointment, I will need to cut my current engagement short. It's tough to be a disciplined scheduler and to accurately handicap your own (in)ability to estimate transit times etc.
It's also important to communicate expectations in advance - much better to tell someone in advance that you have another commitment later on than to abruptly leave them if you run over your anticipated time.
I agree, it is a matter of respect. But the interesting question is now: How do you call people on their disrespectful behavior, if they are not on time and/or repeatedly not on time?
My solution is quite simple: Just tell them. It may feel weird to say something about the 5 minutes they are late, but you can say it in a half-joking, half-serious way and simply change the topic immediately afterwards. Example: I meet people for climbing in the gym. They are 5 minutes late. I greet them and say with a smile:"You are 5 minutes late. [Short pause] Let's go climbing."
This way, I feel like I'm not making a big deal out of it, but I pointed it out and it might stick with them for the next time.
If it happens again, I'd joke around like: "It occurs to me that your internal clock is a bit off by 5 minutes. Or is it genetically? I hope it is not infectious" or something silly (edit: this still comes from a place of seriousness). And depending on their reply, I go either serious about it, keep joking or drop the topic.
If it really doesn't stick with them, I let them wait the next time.
If in a leadership role in any situation I would:
1) Share the concept of Tasks & Dependencies and how his coming after time put a spanner in tasks to be done (of his own and of the next guy too)
Subtle (even overt) communication of 'he is superman'. Superman needs to come on time : )
2) Share a story of how I too once came late for a situation and this put my boss (or even father, brother, friend!) in trouble... and how I now don't get late and keep my boss happy : )
Subtle fun communication ...of encouraging him to cross the same bridge (i.e. switch the habit.)
3) Invite him to share the story of how he got late and how he would suggest a solution so that the same spanner doesn't stop tasks from now. I concur "sounds good to me" to his suggestion when I see the suggestion as a good one. And shake hands. I thank him (for his story, suggestion and time.)
As a leader, I am the brain and I have to streamline. By sharing I don't come across as an authoritarian. By thanking I come across as someone friendly and approachable.
When its all friends ...climbing in gym ...I stop my mind and totally focus on making a good time. The only thing I allow my mind to be bothered upon in such situations is safety.
Most important stuff:
Like a plane... use 5 computers ...each operating on different platforms, and 2 or more engines... one stops the others ensure smooth ride.
If the guy is your right hand man (2nd engine) he needs to know in so many words - you depend on him and he depends on you for things to fly.
Thanks : )
I used to lie a lot when I was a kid. I wasn't intent on deceiving people, but for some reason I would just tell made up stories. They weren't even fantastic stories, they were just things that hadn't happened. I really have no idea why I did it.
One day I was hanging out with my friend Ryan and his family. We had just gone to a movie and were driving back to his house. Right as we were driving down his street I told a story to everyone in the car. I don't remember the story, but I remember it had something to do with cabinets. Hey, it was a long time ago.
Ryan's mother innocently asked a question that began with, "Wait... if you did that, then how could you have..."
Earlier this week I wrote a post about "Project Stargate" - our attempt at an "always on" telepresence solution between our DC & SF offices.
Justin Thorpe of Clearspring suggested I contact Rob Bailey at SimpleGeo after reading my post, because SimpleGeo has also implemented a Stargate type solution. So I did.
Rob was kind enough to show me SimpleGeo's implementation. And it rocks! They have an office in Boulder, CO & in San Francisco, CA.
Some suggestions from Rob & Team:
Earlier this week I wrote a post about "Project Stargate" - our attempt at an "always on" telepresence solution between our DC & SF offices. Justin Thorpe of Clearspring suggested I contact Rob Bailey at SimpleGeo after reading my post, because SimpleGeo has also implemented a Stargate type solution. So I did. Rob was kind enough to show me SimpleGeo's implementation. And it rocks! They have an office in Boulder, CO & in San Francisco, CA. Some suggestions from Rob & Team: Don't use the standard webcam microphone (too much feedback). Instead, they use the Polycom C100S USB speakerphone (it's meant for Skype, but it works for iChat too) Speaking of iChat, SimpleGeo uses a Mac Mini with iChat, which lets them connect up to 4 parties. As per my post earlier this week, I opted for Windows machines since Skype HD 5.0 Beta is only available on Windows. Turns out that the Logitech Vid software works better than Skype anyway, and that's also only available on Windows too. However, iChat was running beautifully on the SimpleGeo setup, so it looks like you have good options whether you choose PC or Mac. Rob also recommended the unit be put on a cart with wheels. "We wheel it around all the time," he said. They even bring it over to another part of their office for all-hands meetings. They also keep it on all day, and so I asked them about the "creep factor" that I was very worried about in my last post. But they said it's no big deal. It helps to keep the unit in a corner away from people, but Rob said it's "just like having someone in the room." So, having the rig on a cart with wheels that can be moved seems to be working well for SimpleGeo. Videos are coming showing the SimpleGeo implementation. There's a big opportunity here for a startup to solve this problem. There's no really good software solution out there for an "always on" type setup. If you're a soon-to-be-funded Y Combinator company, or definitely take a look at how you could solve this problem. What's missing is: Ability for screen to be blurry unless someone "wakes up" the system, meaning you can still see people & movement, but not make out specifics - think of a translucent effect. I'm thinking this would help with any potential "creep factor" arising from this being always on A software + hardware solution that would allow for it to be muted all the time (also something SimpleGeo said they often did) and a big red easy-to-push button (think the size of the Staples button) for muting & unmuting the audio + good audio, like from the Polycom. This way people could quickly & easily ping the other side. Maybe the software interacts with the hardware so when the audio is un-muted, the screen goes from blurry to clear. Ability to connect with multiple parties in realtime Have a resizeable box of your video feed, to remind people that it's on and they're on camera. Currently no software implementation seems to have a resizeable thumbnail box of your feed. Anyone up to the challenge? Here's video of Rob discussing the Skype Video Phone (he doesn't like it): And here's video of the Stargate implementation that SimpleGeo uses: