By Afiq Jauhari
Machiavelli believed that tardiness often robs us of opportunity, and it’s a notion shared by (most) sensible people. From CEOs to coolies, everyone has had that “Oops, sorry I’m a bit late” moment. Reputations are built, and a 10-minute delay might just break a potential deal. Tardiness is the kryptonite to an efficient workforce, and even Superman can’t afford to be late. So how can we, normal people without superpowers, avoid being tardy? That’s easy. It’s all in your Mind, Body, Planner, Workspace and Transportation!
Get your mind in the right place because admission is the first step towards solution. Just like how shopaholics continue spending until realizing their money’s all gone, one might not realize they’re prone to tardiness till it’s (pardon the pun) too late. Only by acknowledging yourself and your tendencies will there be a clear path for self-improvement. Don’t fret too much over this, though. As long as you are aware of the risks of not being punctual and understand its consequences, you’re on the right track. Even if you do nothing else, you’ll still subconsciously move away from your bad habits. Just remember, mind over matter!
If a well-maintained car can go 500 kilometers before running out of gas, and a seldom-serviced car can only last half that distance, shouldn’t the same logic apply to a person? Of course it does. An unhealthy body gets tired fast and gets to engagements slow! So how do you maintain a healthy body? Three words sum it all – Rest, Nutrition and Exercise. Firstly, get good rest every night so you’ll wake up early and fresh. This includes adequate time (roughly 6 hours per night), proper mattress and minimal drug/alcohol use. Secondly, eat less oily food and drink more water. Good nutritional habits will provide energy as well as avoid that dreaded “Sorry I’m late, but my stomach was…” moment! Thirdly, exercise so you don’t easily get exhausted. Being in shape especially helps when you need to travel in between schedules. Besides, nobody likes to see somebody loudly panting after entering a meeting room half an hour late.
What’s your weapon of choice – tablet, notebook or literally a notebook with actual papers in it? Whichever it is, planners go a long way in avoiding tardiness, so it’s always important to maintain proper scheduling. One of the most important things to remember is to set a buffer time for EVERYTHING. A meeting might drag out an extra 30 minutes, a traffic jam may cause a 20-minute delay and a dead cat may make you cry for 10 minutes before leaving the house. Whatever the case may be, leave more time in between arrangements so you’re better prepared. Also, be realistic and don’t swamp yourself with appointments. It’s not exactly a smart move to schedule 10 meetings in a day, but end up being late for the first 5, postponing the next 3 and cancelling the last 2 by the end of the day.
A creatively utilized workspace will definitely save you some time, whether you realize it or not. Putting up colorful post-it notes in strategic places can not only remind you of your tasks and appointments, but also subconsciously lift your mood. Pin-ups of quotes on punctuality would also help, as well as a striking clock (neon pink works nicely) that will definitely catch your eye. Pushing your time forward by a few minutes might work, but it’s not for everyone. The best approach is to set it in front by a random number of minutes (be it 2, 7, 13, etc.) and not in increments of 5 (5, 10, 15, etc.) to constantly keep you on your toes whenever you look at the time.
Unless you’re driving an advanced version of the Batmobile and can hover over traffic jams, it’s probably a good idea to find out the traffic report before going for a meeting. Familiarize yourself with the roads and surrounding area, estimate the time needed to get there as well as the overall traffic condition. As a matter of fact, all these things can be done on the Internet (i.e.: GoogleMap). Heck, spending a few minutes on it might just save you an hour on the road! On top of that, also look out for weather conditions as a downpour may cause some undesirable traffic jams. Also, don’t forget to fill up the gas tank the night before an appointment.
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