Punctuality involves more than that, however, and only as we see the rest of the picture can we build solid punctuality. Only by employing vital tips and strategies can we build this character trait effectively.
Who Needs These Tips and Strategies?
Punctuality is a growing need in every arena. This list contains just five of them:
- Employers long for greater punctuality among employees.
- Employees wish they could improve their punctuality quotient (PQ)
- Parents yearn for children and teenagers to exhibit promptnes
- Teachers at every level, including tertiary, want greater punctuality.
- Speakers want punctual audiences who do not interrupt their speaking.
If we completed the list, it would include every person on earth who was capable of understanding – because punctuality is a character trait. It is an absolute value, tied to other absolute values.
The universal need for punctuality creates a common need for these tips and strategies. We all need to teach punctuality – to ourselves first, and then to others if we are in such a position.
Teaching Yourself to Be Punctual
Teaching punctuality to the person in the mirror is vital if you aspire to be a man or woman of high moral values. It is essential, too, if you expect to teach this character trait to others. As with every character trait, you must practice what you preach. Credibility hangs on actions. An employer, teacher, or parent who is perpetually tardy, for example, will earn little more than disrespect by teaching punctuality to others.
Once you have taught yourself to be punctual, you can apply the same tips and strategies to teach punctuality to others.
Strategies and Tips
With that in mind, here are six strategies and tips that can help you:
1. Admission: Admit that you need to build punctuality. Many people think they are already punctual enough. They tell you that punctuality is relative. As long as you come within 10 minutes of the deadline, you are punctual. The same people tend to believe that driving within 10 miles above a posted speed limit is lawful. If you have always thought 10-15 minutes of tardiness is well within the limits of punctuality, you are wrong. Employ the strategy of admission. Admit that you do not exercise true punctuality. You will work to build or polish a trait only if you know you do not already possess it in polished form.
2. Respect: Tardiness is tantamount to disrespect and you must recognize it for what it is: an insult. It is a slap in the face. Your lateness says that you and your schedule are more important than the other person and his or her schedule. Some politicians, presidents, and other leaders have consciously employed lateness to send that very message: “It is right for ME to be late and keep YOU waiting because I am more important than you!” Wrong. The other person is always more important. Exercise respect for others as an incentive to punctuality. Think about the value – the worth of that other person. Make it the “carrot” that keeps you reaching out for punctuality.
3. Love: This absolute value requires doing what is best for others. This is sure to include punctuality. I cannot remember an instance in my own life when it would have been best for the other person to have me arrive late. You may disagree, but think it through to logical conclusions. Even when punctual arrivals catch others unprepared, such arrivals urge them to develop this character trait of well-mannered people. Lateness on your part often causes others to adjust schedules, which is usually less than best for them. Exercise love in the form of deadlines and appointments satisfied.
4. Responsibility: One facet of the character trait responsibility is that the task or duty often has a deadline. Johnny’s responsibility to clean the classroom hamster cage during lunch hour every day has a deadline – the end of lunch hour. If Johnny has not completed it by then, he has not exercised punctuality and has not fulfilled his responsibility. Karen’s responsibility to prepare 50 binders for a May 3 seminar that begins at 9 AM has a deadline – the seminar’s scheduled time. If Karen fails to have the folders prepared by then, she has not exercised punctuality and has not fulfilled her responsibility. Remind yourself firmly that responsibility requires punctuality. Emphasize punctuality to yourself whenever you accept a responsibility. Write the deadline as part of the responsibility.
5. Self-Control: A big part of exercising punctuality is taking power over yourself. You must crack the whip over your own head. Control self’s desire to put off preparation; to sleep a few more minutes; to talk to a friend a little longer; or to do one more thing before leaving for an appointment. Control self’s choice of activities so that you meet deadlines. Harness your leisure time to be sure you can be punctual. Self-control is a mighty character trait, and can make the difference between being prompt and being tardy.
6. Be Realistic: Most tardiness results from willful decisions. Yes, there are accidental causes. The car pool driver may have forgotten that this was her day. Dad may have forgotten to waken you. The bus may have missed your stop. Your husband may have forgotten to set the alarm clock. More likely causes are the decisions you made. You decided to stay up late last night and had trouble getting yourself in gear. You decided to watch television for 30 minutes more instead of preparing for tomorrow morning. You decided to stop for coffee and a donut when you were already running late. You decided to work on a project you liked instead of the one that was due. Get real. Take action to make yourself punctual.
Teaching Punctuality to Others
Teaching punctuality is appropriate in nearly every setting.
Employers do not need to be told that tardiness is costly. That fact has been documented through various economic studies. Employers should institute a program that will help employees in practical ways. Give them practical tips that will help them arrive at work on time – and return from lunch breaks on time. Teach them how to structure their work to be sure deadlines are met.
Character education teachers, and indeed teachers at every level, should help students develop this character trait. Tardiness is a hindrance to efficient education. It reduces academic achievement. It affects the progress of not only the individual student but of the entire class. Even in a school that does not list character education on its curriculum, teaching punctuality is vital to successful schooling.
Parents should teach children, and insist on promptness around the home, establishing a valuable life skill. Even a young child is able to help lay out tomorrow’s clothing before going to bed; to have everything ready for an early departure on vacation; to work toward deadlines.
In conclusion, please note that punctuality, like every other quality on the list of character traits, must never be built for selfish reasons. Asking “What’s in it for me?” is not a valid incentive. Build punctuality because it is an absolute value. It is the right thing to do.