I’m Sorry I’m Late
By Eileen Habelow, Ph.D.
I hate having to apologize for being late. When I make someone else wait for me, whether at work or at home, I feel like I am showing them such disrespect; like their time (waiting for me) is less important than my time spent doing whatever made me late. That may sound melodramatic to some – we are so conditioned to accept lateness these days – everyone is so busy, so over-scheduled, so over-committed, always running from event to event to commitment to commitment. It has become an acceptable ‘excuse’ – my meeting went long, the commute was terrible, I’ve been running all day long, etc.
What would it be like if meetings started on time? What would it be like if everyone was in a seat, prepared, and ready to go at exactly the time the meeting was supposed to start? How much more productive would our meetings be if we never again had to catch-up someone who entered the room 10-minutes late?
I think about this also in the context of getting up earlier. I have never been a morning person – always declared myself to be a night owl. In the past year, I experienced an extended period of time when I was waking up at 5:30am automatically. My body woke me up – no alarm. And, 5:30am is VERY EARLY for me. Guess why my body got into that routine? Because I was forcing myself to go to bed earlier. Makes sense, right? It made me reconsider my ‘let’s start meetings on time’ idea.
We struggle so hard to make sure that meetings start on time, but I think we’ve got it backward. Let’s commit to ENDING meetings on-time or maybe even with five-minutes to spare! If more meetings ENDED on-time, it would naturally happen that more meetings would start on-time. If more meetings started on time, meetings would be more productive. And if meetings were more productive, they might end on-time, or even early! Imagine!
When I teach classes or work with teams, I always commit to ending at the scheduled time. It shows respect for everyone’s schedule and if everyone is confident they will get out on time, it makes it easy to commit to working as hard as we can to accomplish what we need to accomplish within the time allotted.
Interesting Links: End Meetings on Time