Arriving on time is a standard expectation of successful people, explains Marsha Egan

What is your “on-time arrival percentage”? Do you arrive on time for appointments, meetings, and other functions? Is being on time a habit with you?

While this is a very simple concept, the reality is that arriving on time is a basic and necessary career strategy. It is a signal that can impact the respect people have for you, and ultimately, your future success. And conversely, continual failure to arrive on time can be a career killer.

We all know of people who are regularly late. What do you think of those people? Disorganized? Uncaring? Self-important? Self-absorbed? Unable to perform? The thoughts are not positive, that’s for sure.

And when you consider who to recommend or choose to do special projects or tasks, perennial lateness will most likely come into your selection decision. Those “late arrivers” may never know what opportunities they lost because they were not given an opportunity to shine.

We do need a disclaimer here: We are not talking about the occasional late arrival; unforeseen situations happen to all of us. We are talking about the person whose lateness is a part of their makeup.

Regardless of the reason, at minimum, regular lateness is annoying. It slows progress. And yes, it is disrespectful. Someone once told me that being late is one of the most selfish things you can do. A lot of people share that opinion. And if it happens to be someone you work with, work for, or sell to – you are not starting off on the right foot. Being respected is a career baseline, and being disrespectful is therefore a career inhibitor.

So, enough of the justification for why you should avoid habitual lateness.

Here are some thoughts on how to shift to perennial punctuality and an exceptional “on-time arrival percentage.”

Begin with self-talk

“I am always early.” The words you think and speak to yourself can become your reality.

Value promptness

When you choose punctuality as a personal value, believing and living it can go a long way to kicking the late habit.

Reassess the time you allow for tasks

In my time management seminars, I like to encourage people to estimate how long something will take, then double it. This accounts for interruptions, delays, and Murphy’s Law.

Live according to “Vince Lombardi Time”

The great football coach had his team on “Vince Lombardi Time,” which means 10 minutes early. When he said practice started at 10:00, if you arrived at 9:51, you were one minute late.

Respect others

Consider the other people involved in your task or event more than yourself. When you think of their time as equal to or more valuable than yours, you will try harder to arrive on time.

Set alarms and reminders

In the electronic age, use technology to your advantage.

Focus on your career strategy

Embrace the belief that arriving on time is a standard expectation of successful people and that habitual lateness can and will hurt you.

The good news is that perennial lateness is not part of someone’s DNA; it is a behavior. Behavior can be changed. And it is most likely a habit. Habits can be changed. Compared to other career challenges, this is a relatively easy fix – a fix that can be quickly noticed by others. Start today. Be early for the rest of your life.

Your “on-time arrival percentage” matters. One hundred percent.

Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, a Florida-based workplace productivity coaching firm. She is the author of Inbox Detox and the Habit of E-mail Excellence. She can be reached at, where you can also read her blog. To listen ... (Read More)

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