How to be Successful: Be on Time

When I was growing up, my mom’s best friend was always 10 to15 minutes late to anything.  I never really understood it. There was always Something that came up last minute that prevented her from getting there on time.  This was my first encounter with people who are just tardy all the time. Other people are consistently timely. Most people are probably in the middle, and I want to sway you to be timely.  But first, why be on time?  

  1. You may miss out.  If you’re going to a meeting or presentation, you may miss out on some important information you would have liked to have.  Why go to a meeting to participate if you’re not going to get there in time to participate?
  2. You get noticed.  Trust me, showing up late to a talk turns heads. The student who walks into rounds even 5 minutes late bugs the heck out of me.  It disrupts the rounds and brings everyone’s focus to that individual. You don’t want to stand out in a bad way.
  3. It is disrespectful.  I think this is the nidus of what irritates me about people who are late.  They are implying that their time is worth more than my time. This is a very self-centered behavior.
  4. Putting the time in is how you get good.  Step number one for anything is to show up.  Show up on time to get the most out of your time.
  5. Successful people are timely.  OK, maybe the eccentric entrepreneur can get away with breezing into work whenever.  Think about the last time you went to see a physician. How long did you wait? Did that irritate you?  If a different doctor was on time, all things being equal, which would you choose? 

OK, so now you know it is important to be timely if you want to be a successful veterinary professional.  How do you get there? Here are some strategies which may help.

  1. The easiest method, which works for people who don’t have a chronic tardiness problem, is to aim to show up 5 minutes early.  Don’t aim to arrive on time, aim to arrive early. That way, if you have some slight delay, you’ll still get there on time. Also, showing up early indicates you are eager, energetic, and want to do whatever activity is happening.
  2. If you are chronically tardy, try keeping track of how late you arrive.  Then plan to arrive that amount of time ahead. This is like #1, except that it is more personalized.  If you are always 15 minutes late, aim to arrive 15 minutes early.
  3. My personal method is to set all of my clocks ahead 7 minutes.  This means if I arrive when my clock says, I am 7 minutes early.  I know there is a little flex time built into my clock, but 7 is an awkward enough number to do math in my head that it’s usually not worth it to me to figure out exactly how many minutes I have before I have to be somewhere.  I just know to aim right around the time when something starts, and statistically, I will be there early.
  4. Care about being on time.  Read the reasons why you should be on time.  Talk to professionals in veterinary medicine.  I don’t know a single professor who likes it when students stroll into class late.  Once you BELIEVE it is important to be on time, it is easier to shift your behavior.

What challenges do you have with being on time?  Do you use any strategies other than the ones listed here?

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