I’ve written on this topic before, and my position hasn’t changed: people who don’t keep their time commitments, those who are perpetually late—for no substantial reason—are irresponsible and inconsiderate. They do not respect others or their time, and worse: and they do not even respect themselves.
Time, like real estate, is valuable—primarily because there is a limited supply of both; there’s no way of producing any more of either.
In fact, time is even more valuable than real estate, because not only is our supply limited—but we also never know how much of it we actually have.
Time is one of the most important—if not the most important—resources to me; God knows I wasted enough of it the first half of my life; I’ve got a lot of catching up to do in the second half (assuming, of course, I even have a second half coming…)
Thus, I try to make optimal use of my time, at all times. My day typically runs from around 4:30 AM to around 8:30 PM, and it’s generally “full-up.” And even though I’m extremely conscious of utilizing my time efficiently, and I try diligently to not waste any at all, I still rarely get everything done in a given day that I had hoped; I put in my sixteen hours, non-stop, then hit the sack exhausted. Get up the next morning, start swinging again.
So it really aggravates me when others don’t respect my time. It means they don’t respect me—and, evidently, don’t respect themselves either, given that they’re willing to project such an irresponsible, inconsiderate image of themselves to others.
When we make a commitment to somebody, they not only reciprocate with a commitment to us, but there’s a ripple effect, as they arrange other aspects of their lives to accommodate that commitment—scheduling their other activities, making commitments to others, working the flexible parts of their daily routine into and around the non. The reality is, they are planning to utilize the rest of their time based on, and structured around, our commitment to them.
So when we don’t honor that commitment, and they’re made to wait, then we’re essentially stealing their time, wasting their time, removing time from their limited supply which they can never, ever recover. And if we’re excessively late, then they’ve got to start re-scheduling and re-commiting their other activities and appointments, all because we didn’t keep ours. That, in turn, causes another ripple effect, as their friends and associates must then do the same, and on and on down the line. The negative consequences of our tardiness grows exponentially; the aggregate cost of this irresponsible, inconsiderate behavior, if tallied over the course of a year, would likely be staggering.
Sure, there are legitimate excuses: car broke down, accident, flat tire, illness, sick child, adverse weather conditions, an unforeseen emergency—you know, things that are beyond our control—and everyone understands this. It’s called life, and we all deal with it.
On the other hand, over-sleeping, running petty errands on the way, fielding unexpected phone calls, the failure to factor in appropriate time for traffic or other travel considerations, stopping for a quick bite, or simply losing track of time—all these types of things are not legitimate excuses; they’re cop-outs, petty excuses, and the perpetrator is simply being irresponsible and inconsiderate—or, to be blunt: rude and selfish. And merely phoning or texting ahead that they’re late but on their way doesn’t make it okay, either—short of relaying some unforeseen and unavoidable problem or emergency as mentioned above.
And don’t have to take my word for it; instead, take the words Benjamin Franklin:
“I have generally found that the man who is good at an excuse is good for nothing else.”
When people are wasting my valuable (and limited) time, I have no problem walking away if it continues. I’ve simply got better things to do with my time, and have commitments to other people (and myself) to keep. I can always take my business elsewhere, and if people in my life don’t respect me or my time, I don’t want or need them in my life anyway. We all understand the concept of eliminating “toxic” people from our lives; well, I believe that those who are indiscriminate with our time, who don’t respect us or themselves enough to honor their time commitments, fall within that category. So whenever possible, those people should be distanced, if not completely eliminated, from our lives. Or at a minimum, relegated to a position in which we are no longer dependent upon them for anything important.
In his article How Did it Get to be ‘OK’ for People to be Late for Everything?, successful businessman and author Greg Savage said something that really struck a chord with me, and he is exactly right:
“And it is not that we lead ‘busy lives’. That’s a given, we all do, and it’s a cop out to use that as an excuse. It’s simply that some people no longer even pretend that they think your time is as important as theirs. And technology makes it worse. It seems texting or emailing that you are late somehow means you are no longer late. Rubbish. You are rude. And inconsiderate.”
So don’t be a “time thief.” Be considerate and respectful to others, and yourself. Value the time of others as you do your own. And besides—being punctual isn’t just a rule, or expectation; as the article The Man is Punctual: The Importance of Being on Time, published over at The Art of Manliness explains, there are other benefits to punctuality as well: it builds and displays your integrity; demonstrates that your are dependable; builds your own self-confidence; assures your peak performance; strengthens and displays your discipline; reveals your humility; and most importantly: demonstrates your respect for others and their time.
So, are you a time thief? If so, perhaps you should look into changing your approach, improving your behavior; start respecting yourself and your time, as well as others and their time, and get back into people’s good graces—while you still have time…