By Warren Heggarty
We often hear about how employers are looking for people with a particular quality but can’t find anyone. This series hopes to give our readers the edge over the competition.
Why is it that employers cry out for people who are punctual, people who turn up on time, every time? Most likely it is to do with respect. Being punctual shows that you respect the other person’s time, and as our lives are measured in time, by extension it shows you respect the whole person. Especially if that person is PAYING you to be on time.
There is an interesting anecdote, on the Art of Manliness web site (McKay & McKay, A Man is Punctual: The Importance of Being on Time, 2012) about first US president, General George Washington, who was very punctual. As a youth he was drilled in The Rules of Civility and took it all very seriously. He considered a person’s punctuality to be a sign of how much they respected others.
In some cultures, such as Pacific Islands, there is a different approach to time and therefore punctuality. There, one shows respect in other ways. In Australia, however, punctuality is essential for people who desire employment.
Older people (more likely to be your employer) are especially keen on punctuality. They were born before mobile phones were invented. You couldn’t reschedule things with a quick phone call 20 years ago. If you promised to be at the Town Hall steps by 5pm, you had to be there or people would worry. Besides, unless you had good reason for the delay, you have broken your word and that does not reflect well on you. If you arrive at 5:15pm an apology is in order!
But just because nowadays you can use your gadgets to reschedule the moveable feast of your life at short notice, that doesn’t mean you SHOULD. You need to think of the impression you are making on other people. If those other people are going to be paying you, they need to know you are reliable and consistent. The best way to demonstrate this is to turn up on time.
Think about this – if you cannot organise your own time, how can you expect someone to trust you to organise anything? If you prove that you can organise your time, it shows others that you are dependable and that increases your self-confidence. Arriving early for an appointment allows you to avoid the panic that often accompanies the tardy and disorganised.
So how can you become punctual? Firstly, if you are unpunctual you need to find out why. Again, The Art of Manliness goes into some depth on this. (McKay & McKay, A Man Is Punctual: The Reasons You Are Late and How to Always be on Time, 2012)
In brief, you may misperceive the passage of time or you may underestimate how long things will take (almost everyone does this!). A lot of people are overly optimistic about the flow of time, others are procrastinators.
There are quite a number of other reasons, some of them quite impolite (being deliberately late is a way of getting back at people) but to cure the problem you need to commit to changing your behaviour. If your problem is particularly severe, you need to look at what you do during the day, how long it takes you, and what your “choke points” are.
Perhaps you need to develop more realistic ideas about time, about how long things take, about how poor public transport is, and so forth. You can help the situation by always aiming to be early. It is much better to be early than late. Being TOO early for an appointment or for starting work shows that you have nothing much going on in your life. Sometimes, being early might make your host feel responsible for entertaining you for that extra time! This is why some recommend arrival a sensible five or fifteen minutes before the appointed hour. You can use the spare time to entertain yourself by doing something constructive…like reading Panorama!
Whatever the cause of your unpunctuality, if you remedy it, you will turn yourself into ONE OF THE PUNCTUAL PEOPLE THAT EMPLOYERS ARE CRYING OUT FOR!
McKay, B., & McKay, K. (2012, July 16). A Man is Punctual: The importance of being on time. Retrieved from The art of manliness:
McKay, B., & McKay, K. (2012, July 18). A Man Is Punctual: The reasons you are late and how to always be on time. Retrieved from The Art of Manliness: