Time Management – 4 Ways To Be On Time EverytimeRamon Ray
Insights from Curtis J. Morley is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, educator, patent holder, thought leader, innovator, and author of The Entrepreneur’s Paradox.
One of the most chronic habits of entrepreneurs is being late. Trust me, I know. I was one of them. Here’s four ways to improve your time management and be on time.
If you asked any of my lifelong friends Vaughn, Mike, Dave, James, or Bryan, or any of my employees they will all tell you that I was the last person to show up to any event or gathering––especially during my first few ventures. They could always count on me to show up after the appointed time with some really big story (read excuse) because something “very important” was happening with the company I had to attend to. In reality, the only story I was telling was the amount of disrespect I had for all involved.
It was time for some life hacking. It was time to turn this weakness into a strength. It took a couple of months and I eventually figured out there is a way to be on time everytime, and you can too. Here’s how:
Step One – Evaluate
Ask yourself, “Why am I late? What is it that creates this chronic habit?”
For me, there were three reasons. First, I was always trying to fit in ‘one-more-thing’. Second, I actually felt important being late. And third, I didn’t plan well enough to be on time, even when the other two items weren’t an issue.
I didn’t want to admit it, but I was just fine with being late. In fact, I was more than fine with it. I remember a conversation with a business person I really respected who was making big waves in the industry. He was always late, and he once quipped to me, “If you want something done and done right give it to the busiest person in the room. They are the ones who are succeeding.” I wanted to be perceived as successful, and therefore I wanted to be perceived as busy. Showing up late with an excuse about how busy I was, fulfilled that need to seem important.
A great way to seem important was to show up for meetings late and then elaborately explain how many important things I was doing. I had to break out of the mindset that late = important. The truth is, there is no excuse for being late––it only shows disrespect. It doesn’t make me more important. It is very selfish. This stung the first time I realized it, but that realization helped me make the change.
I started repeating to myself, “stop being on-time, be early.” This solves the first and last issue listed above. I was always trying to be on time, but that wasn’t accomplishing the goal. I had to change my thinking from being “on time” to being early. If I arrive 5-10 minutes late I’m guaranteed not to be late.
I also changed my mindset from, “I can squeeze in one more thing,” to “If there is time before the meeting, I will work on it at the location I need to be at.” Our smartphones can accomplish so much these days. I can edit documents, review and sign contracts, research, fill in spreadsheets, fill out my to-do list and many other things while I am waiting on location for a meeting instead of letting that task make me late. I find this mindset shift has made me more productive because I am not stressed while trying to accomplish the task.
Finally, be known as the person that is “Always on time” Be the one everybody expects to see first when they walk in the door. It’s time to buck the trend and gain a reputation for being on time.
Step Two – Plan
Being on time starts with scheduling. Never (and I mean never) agree to an appointment without your calendar in front of you. Never schedule from memory. Verify the time block before committing to getting together.
At the beginning of each week, and the beginning of each day, review each appointment. Ask yourself, “What do I need to prepare for this meeting?” Block out time on your calendar well in advance of the meeting to make sure you aren’t scrambling 10 minutes before.
Google Maps is your friend. Open Google Maps and type in your start and end points. Did you know you can even put in the time of day you are going to travel, and it will give you a very accurate estimate of how long the trip will take? Include travel time in your calendar, and make sure the alert tells you when to leave.
Confirm the day before. As you finish your work day, send out a text or email for each of your appointments for the next day. Verify the other party is in agreement on the time and location and is still planning to meet.
Stop hour-long meetings. This is particularly relevant with the new normal of ZOOM meetings. You can’t make it to the next meeting without ending the prior one earlier. Only schedule 50 minute meetings––especially if you have back-to-back appointments. The extra 10 minutes will give you time to take notes/set action items from the last meeting, and still make it to the next meeting composed and on time.
Add three minutes for “out the door” time. Plan for that second trip back into the house. It takes about three minutes.
Add 5 minutes per 10 miles. Plan for bad traffic. If you are always planning to be exactly on time, one accident on the roads will cause you to be late. What I have found is that if I plan for an additional 5 minutes per ten miles I can always be on time by diverting to side streets etc… Google also helps with this by giving alternate routes that are faster. I never go to any appointment, work or personal, without having Google maps running.
Set two alerts. Set one an hour in advance and the other 10 minutes ahead. The hour in advance alert will give you time to be prepped and ready. The 10 minute alert will be your “on time” alert.
Step Three – Act
Before starting your next meeting, open Google Maps on your phone and enter the destination for the one you are traveling to after this one and verify traffic and that you have enough time to make it. If you’re not traveling, review the start time for your next meeting.
Start each meeting with a ‘hard out’ time. Say something like, “To do a time check, I have until 1:50 before I need to leave for my next meeting. Shall we get started?” Then stick to it. At 1:50 stand up, say thank you, and walk out. If the meeting is still going, politely excuse yourself and suggest you talk more over email. Because you set the expectation up front, you have prepped the room for your departure. If you stay in the meeting longer than the “hard out” time you will just train people that you don’t care about keeping deadlines.
Never excuse yourself again. If you are late, simply apologize by saying, “I’m sorry I’m late.” Don’t give some elaborate explanation to excuse yourself. Instead, humbly say, “I’m sorry for being late and for wasting your time with my tardiness.” How’s that for being accountable? This will bring it all back home. And because it hurts to say that, you will not want to be late again.
Step Four – Reward
All of these things started working for me right away. But in order to cement the habit I had to have a sustained period where I was always on time. There were several times I wanted to revert back to my old habits. I needed a carrot, and a pretty big one to continue.
I determined if I were on time 300 times, I would buy myself a guitar. If you need some motivation here is an amazing carbon fiber guitar from KLOS I highly suggest putting as your reward. If you’re not into music pick something else that will be exciting and will work as a reminder of accomplishing the goal.
The logistics behind tracking works like this – each time you are on time…and each time you are late you give or take away points. When you reach 300 times – you buy yourself a guitar or some other awesome reward. Being on time earns one point. +1 For every on-time arrival. -2 for every late arrival. -10 if more than 10 minutes late or more. You notice the late times sting more than the on time reward. This is on purpose.
There are several “counter” apps. On Android, I like Counter. It is super simple and has a ‘plus one’ and ‘minus one’ feature. Alternatively, here is a counter app for iPhones. Before every meeting, add or subtract a point. Having a reward will motivate you to turn a damaging habit into a healthy habit.
You will thank yourself for implementing these strategies and become much more healthy with less stress and deeper relationships in your life.
You might be wondering, “Is Curtis ever late anymore?” The answer is rarely––and only when I don’t follow the steps in this bulletproof formula.
Curtis J. Morley
Curtis J. Morley is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, educator, patent holder, thought leader, innovator, and author of The Entrepreneur’s Paradox. Curtis has founded several multimillion dollar companies of his own and has worked with a myriad of Fortune 100 businesses such as NASA, Apple, Disney, Intel, Microsoft, Adobe and Amazon. He is a sought after speaker and has presented at events around the globe. His true passion, however, lies in helping other entrepreneurs achieve next-level growth and results. Curtis’ success in business is influenced by his love of competition in IronMan, marathons and relay races, time spent with his family, and the joy of creating music.