One of the things that I struggle with the most is making sure I’m on time for appointments. You’d think that I’d have it all figured out, but just when I think I do, I find myself getting into a habit of getting there just as the meeting starts or just a little late. And it bugs me. So, when the topic of “Never being late again” come up, I thought, “Why not talk about my personal struggles on this and see if I can brainstorm some ideas that can help people who have the same struggle I do.”
Why Am I Late?
Before diving into solutions on what to do so I’m not late, we need to evaluate why we are late. Personally, I find I’m late for a couple reasons.
- I didn’t plan enough time for travel so I could get to the destination on time.
- I try and squeeze ‘just one more thing’ in before getting out the door.
- Interruptions. Sometimes I’m just about to go out the door and somebody will come to me with something they want addressed. They don’t pick up on the fact that I’m just about to leave and so we end up talking while I look for a way to extricate myself from the conversation in a polite way.
Most anything else I can think up falls into one of the three categories. Underlying these three reasons are some underlying values: Planning, Accomplishment and Politeness. These are important values to me, so the question is, are they more important than being on time.
What value is underneath “Being on Time”? Respect. When we are on time to a meeting we show our respect to the people who are attending the meeting, the person who organized it and to the topic that will be presented. So, it’s a matter of what values are important. Do I value Respect more or less than Accomplishment or Planning or Politeness? By by very actions it seems that I do not, but rather value those others more than I do respect.
And it may depend on the person or group. I may respect some people more than I respect others.
How to change the behavior?
Knowing how I prioritize the different values is an important step to change. All the tactics in the world will not change an underlying attitude and if the attitude is not changed than the behavior and habits will crop up again and I’ll be right back where I started. Understanding that Respect is lower on the scale then helps me start a conversation around why. Why do I value accomplishment more than respect? Is there something about the person that just turns me off or annoys me? Do I think the topic of the meeting boring? Do I think the meeting will be productive? What can I do to change these attitudes?
By addressing these concerns, then the attitudes will change and the behavior will follow. If I really want to make it to the meeting then I’ll make sure to leave early enough, politely excuse myself from a conversation by just saying I’d like to talk but will need to do it later and will just leave what I’m working on and pick it up when I get back.
By addressing the underlying problems instead of the behavior we can make lasting changes in behaviors. And that, more than anything else, will help us be more productive, contributing members of society.
The image is “Killing time at YYZ” by imkevb. You can find it on flickr