How to never be late to work again?

During a recent outstation trip to one of our sales offices in India, the local branch manager who was supposed to reach at 8:30 AM informed me at 8:25 AM that he would be arriving late by almost an hour due to unexpected traffic. I was furious, to say the least, as I was already in the office by 8:20 AM expecting him to be there and prepared for our morning meeting.

Once he got in (by 9:25 AM), I did my best to control my frustration as this delay would now cascade into further delays and derail our entire plan for the day, causing us to be late for client meetings. To make up for the lost time, we had no option but to forego our morning meeting (and conduct it in the car instead), cut short some of the client meetings and forego lunch! (but never ask the driver to hurry)

After our last meeting and on the way back to the hotel where I was staying, the branch manager apologised profusely for the morning’s delay, but more importantly (as it shows a willingness to learn and grow) asked me for my thoughts on some of the best practices to avoid such delays. Here are some of the tips I shared with him, that have helped me be on time for work-related meetings (local office, branch office, customer meetings, travelling with bosses) consistently over the past several years:

  1. Prepare ahead: route (if possible share it beforehand with your driver), clothes (I have always kept the next day’s clothes out the night before), workbag, transportation (if possible pre-book)
  2. Add buffer time: depending on the day of the week (ex: Monday mornings are the busiest and I add an additional 30-minute buffer), scheduled events (festivals and yes protests!), unexpected delays (30-minute buffer) etc
  3. Schedule an additional alarm/reminder: either on your work calendar or personal calendar/reminder for the night before (especially if you are away from home as you may not be able to follow your regular routine)
  4. Use a timer: for example, on days when I know I need to finish my breakfast and check out within 25 minutes, I set a timer for 20 minutes on my phone/watch
  5. Stick to known/familiar options: you can read more about this from an earlier post by clicking here
  6. Above all, communicate: if for any reason you are still unable to make it on time, call ahead and inform whoever it is that you are meeting with. This gives them the option to adjust their schedule or plan to meet your mid-way (if that’s a possibility) or utilise the time to work on a pending task

I hope incorporating some of the above points in your daily routine helps you and your organisation shoot to the top!

( if you have some tips & tricks of your own, please do share them in the comments section so that we can all learn and improve together)