By Adam Jusko,,

I used to have a problem with time. I thought everything would take less time than it does. If I had to be somewhere that took 45 minutes to reach by car, I wouldn’t even think about leaving until that 45-minute mark. I’d fail to account for the 5-10 minutes it might take to get my things ready and get out to the car. Thus I’d often be 5-10 minutes late. And if there was unexpected traffic… yikes.

Depending on the situation, the consequences of this problem might be:

  • Someone important to me was angry at me for wasting their time.
  • I looked bad to my employer.
  • I missed a medical appointment and had to reschedule, wasting my own time.
  • I was flustered and not fully in control of my thinking when having to make a presentation or talk to a client or answer questions at a job interview. And it usually showed.

This is not the part where I tell you I came up with a foolproof system to always be on time. Instead, I just reached a point of seeing the truth: “Something has to change. I am hurting myself every time I do this.”

Over time I’ve adopted every trick I can think of:

  • Targeting my arrival 15 minutes prior to an appointment
  • Making sure everything I need is together in one place so I can leave faster
  • Setting alarms on my phone
  • Trying to make appointments later in the day when I am most alert and more likely to hustle

More than anything, though, what motivates me to be on time (or even a little early) is how much better it is to feel in control of a situation, to not have my heart racing while speeding around in traffic, to not being the last one to show up and then make excuses — to not look bad to the people that are counting on me.

When I was younger, I was blind to how bad of an impression I was making with this habit. I can only imagine the eye-rolls and “here we go again” looks that family or work associates would exchange when I failed to show up at an agreed-upon time that everyone else managed to accomplish just fine.

Being on time is one of those little things in life that can be a trust-builder or a trust-killer. If the problem becomes chronic, that trust-killer seeps into everything else that people feel about you. It hurts your reputation. It is no exaggeration to say that it could be just enough to prevent you from moving up in your career, and of course it could get you fired in many workplaces.

If you have somewhere to be, stop reading this! Go!