Probably, you know someone who is habitually late. (Or maybe it's you!) It's irritating when you're waiting on a friend to go to dinner for the 100th time, but when a friend like that becomes a business partner or client, their lateness goes beyond irritating. It's downright disrespectful.
I've spent time in parts of the world where timeliness isn't a factor, and I'm not sure how they function. If you say 7:00 but we all know that doesn't mean 7:00, what does it mean? 7:15? 9:00? I've been excruciatingly early for events I purposely made myself late for. It works for them, but it doesn't for me. The casual lateness is something I can't get used to.
And in the business world, you shouldn't, either. Maybe you can't change anyone else's habits for them, but what can you do about it if you're the one who has the tendency toward being late?
Quit telling yourself so.
Saying, "I'm always late" only reinforces the behavior. Start saying, "I'm always on time" and live up to it.
Set your clocks ahead.
Sure, you'll know you've done it, but if you get in a hurry at some point there's a good chance you'll forget and you'll dash out with 15 minutes to spare. Or, ask a friend or spouse to do it, but ask her not to tell you how many minutes ahead they are.
Prep in advance.
Lay out everything you'll need the night before. Pack your lunch, choose your clothes, and organize your paperwork before you go to bed so all you have to do in the morning is grab it. If you need to double check an address or plan a travel route, the night before is a good time for that, as well.
Plan your day.
If you know you've scheduled time in somewhere to read your daughter's research paper, you won't try to squeeze it in when you really should be heading out the door.
Give yourself some tasks that can be done while you wait for the meeting, like returning emails. Then go to your event early and work while you wait for it to begin. No time wasted, and you won't be late.
Remember what it means to be on time.
Would you look at the person waiting for you and say, "Hey, your time means nothing to me!" Of course not. But in effect, that is what you're saying when you show up late. Keep that in mind and use it as incentive to get there on time.
Do you know someone who is habitually late? How does it affect your dealings with them?