Importance of being punctual at work

Punctuality and good time management are skills demanded by employers across all industries. That’s because being late has the ability to negatively affect whole teams, disrupting meetings and giving yourself and others a reputation for being unprofessional. While it might be a big shift to how you organise and manage your life, learning to be punctual will benefit your career immensely. Here are our tips on how to improve your punctuality.

It pays to be punctual 

There’s no shortage of reasons for why being on time is a valuable soft skill to have. Exhibiting your consistent punctuality will show you’re reliable and serious, and will always play a positive role should you want to be considered for more senior positions. It also has the following positive effects:

It shows you’re dedicated and serious about your work

Are you always first in the meeting room helping a presenter set up? Do you make time to have an opportunity to read over your notes while you wait in reception for an external meeting? Being punctual will show colleagues and stakeholders that you’re committed to the work you do, and the people your organisation serves. It shows you’re dedicated not just to doing the job, but doing a great job, and that you understand that a reputation matters. Colleagues will feel supported and encouraged by your consistent preparedness, and you may find you’re asked to help with more senior projects as a result of your punctuality.

It exhibits respect to your colleagues, managers and stakeholders

If you’re always running late (even by a couple of minutes), then meetings, briefings and presentations won’t get started on time. And if one meeting spills overtime, then you can bet any meetings that follow after will have to start late too. Expect colleagues and stakeholders to be neither pleased nor productive at such disruption. 

You appear organised and professional

Much of being punctual is knowing the details, data and facts of the situations you face at work. Something as simple as triple checking the address of a client meeting will ensure you arrive at 1755 Kings Street on time, and not 5175 Kings Street with a mere 10 minutes to make your way down a long city street at peak hour.

Punctuality also provides time to check meeting essentials and secure the best seat – one that gives you eye contact with the main speaker, and puts you in a position to contribute in a meaningful way. It’s hard to be considered a serious contributor if you burst into the conference room ten minutes late with papers flying everywhere, or you have to creep between colleagues to the back of the room to sit yourself down.

It reduces stress

Any action or habit that reduces stress and anxiety in your professional life should be pursued feverishly, so consider learning to be punctual a must. Arriving late is a known stressor and can make people feel isolated, ill-prepared, ineffective and fearful of discipline that being consistently late might warrant. Better still, if you’re generally prone to anxiety, being punctual gives you time to adjust to the surroundings, breathe deeply and steady yourself for that big meeting or presentation.

Be on time, every time

There are many ways to learn how to be punctual, all of which centre on learning how to better manage and respect time. Try the below tools, resources and strategies to ensure you’re known for your punctuality, not your tardiness:

Use a diary

Whether it’s a bound book, on your phone or connected to your email provider, have a diary that reflects all upcoming tasks, meetings, appointments and deadlines. Use colour codes and symbols to separate personal and work-based commitments, and set reminders that allow you to prepare in advance for upcoming deadlines. 

Download apps

There are a range of apps and programs designed to help you manage tasks and be more punctual. Try Rescue Time, Remember the Milk, Wunderlist and Time Doctor to develop customised time management systems and schedules for you and your team members. Most apps are available across devices so content and notifications can be accessed anywhere. While apps are valuable resources, ensure that tasks and notes are consolidated in one place so that nothing is missed, and you can see a true representation of the day, week or month ahead in a single program.

Get clocks and timers

Set all the clocks you work from slightly early and use timers to measure how long it takes to complete the different tasks your job entails. This allows you to establish a realistic understanding of how long activities and projects take, and commit to doing only what can be achieved before you’re due elsewhere.

Always allow extra time

If it only takes 25 minutes to get from the city to your meeting, allow 40 minutes for traffic. If it takes an hour to get to work, allow an hour and fifteen minutes. Allowing extra time to arrive at meetings, set up presentations, negotiate traffic and speak with colleagues who stop you for an unexpected chat. It serves as a free and easy-to-implement insurance policy you’ll always be glad you invested in. 

Avoid distractions pre-departure

Don’t take calls, reply to emails or settle in to review the content of a report before you’re due elsewhere. Not only is it easy to lose track of time and end up late for your meeting or appointment, but the task may not get the time and consideration it deserves. 

While being punctual is a desired quality in the workplace, the reality is you’re going to be late at least a couple of times in your professional life. Whether you get held up by traffic, a meeting runs overtime or you have an unexpected family matter to deal with, being late can sometimes be out of your control. When this happens, notify your manager or those you’re meeting with, and apologise for the inconvenience. Explain what held you up and give an estimate of how long you think you’ll be. Commit to being punctual next time, and show them that no matter what delays you, you’re still capable of demonstrating professionalism.