Saturday, May 3, 2008

Let me talk about punctuality also

I have long wanted to write a post about punctuality. Recently, Yun and ZZ both wrote a post about this so let me share with you some of my thoughts too.

Do you notice that some of your friends are NEVER on time? Yeah, I've quite some friends like that. Why are people late? Let's think about it.

True emergencies

If your friend got into a car accident, it doesn't make sense to ask him/her to be on time. Emergency, by definition, is something unexpected and has to be taken care of immediately or something very serious will happen. So, no one should be held accountable for being late in those situations.

However, how many of your friends are late because of true emergencies? Very few I would say, probably less than 1% of all late cases.

Can't predict how much time they need

Put me in a foreign city and ask me to meet you at some place where the only way to get there is by taking two different buses and a railway and a taxi, there's no way for me to predict how much time I need.

But that's also a pretty rare case. How often do you meet a friend who's traveling to your city? Not very often. Most of the times, you're meeting someone who's living in the same city/county. Unless you friend is some introvert who stays home EVERY weekend, chances are that s/he would have the ability to predict approximately how much time it takes to get to places around where s/he lives.

And, there're things like Google Maps and Yahoo! Maps in this world that provides real time traffic information; how difficult is it to make a reasonable prediction?? I'd say that at most 5% of the cases fall into this category.

They just don't give a dime

For the remaining 94% or more, this, to my mind, is THE reason why most of the people are late and it's something that I detest a lot.

There're quite many different kind of resources you need in your daily life, such as health, money, knowledge, relationships and time. Among them, time is the only resource that's always needed and never regainable (health is not regainable beyond a certain point, but not never like time does)

Because of this, you'd probably agree that time is the single most important and limited resource (with health being the second most important in my opinion).

When you're waiting for someone, you usually can't do anything productive (unless you're waiting at home or in the office). In other words, you're just wasting your time, wasting your life. Latecomers are effectively robbing your time for their own convenience and laziness (So, latecomers are just like people who don't plan because of laziness and the convenience of open choices till the last minute).

Let's do something on this!

If a devil suddenly appears and asks you

"May I steal an hour from your life every week?"

You would probably say no. If that's what you'd say, why would you allow your late friends to do that to you?

Let's see what things we can to this evil habit:
  • End the relationship: This is the easiest. If you never see your friend again, s/he'll never be able to steal time from you. One time a friend was 30 minutes late during my one-hour lunch break. That's okay. However, he didn't apologize AT ALL. It was as if nothing has ever happened. Wow, I didn't know what else to do but to end the relationship.
  • Friendly reminder: If s/he isn't just a so-so friend, I would remind him/her that it's not good to be late because it harms him/her in the end. Being late is one type of promise breaking. However small the promises are, when you break enough of them, people just wouldn't trust (or at least have reservation of) anything you say.
  • Write a post about it: Like Yun and ZZ and me, write a post about it so that your readers can spread the message :P
Think about it, you won't be late for your final exams or wedding ceremony or the annual salary review meeting with your boss or whatever that's freaking important to you.

You HAVE the ability to be on time; it's just whether you want to do it or not and whether you would do it depends on how important the matter is to you.

If your friends and your trustworthiness are important to you, which I bet they are, start planning a little bit ahead today :)

Afterthoughts: Elizza's comment makes me think of one difficult situation:

Your friend is always late but s/he is also your best friend. You've told him/her many times that it's not good to be late but s/he just doesn't listen to you. Despite this, you really don't want to end the friendship since you like him/her a lot except his/her tardiness.

What to do in this situation? The only solution I can think of is to observe whether there's a pattern of his/her late behavior. If s/he is consistently late for 30 minutes, just ask him/her to meet with you at 7:30 pm and arrive at 8 pm.

It's better not to ask more than one late friend out at one time though or you'll have to tell each of them a different meeting time to offset their different tardiness :P


  1. 有一位(或多位)不守時的朋友的確令人很頭痛……尤其是他/她在其他方面都很完美,只是喜歡遲到,有時真的不忍心直斥直非。

  2. Yup I can understand that.. One of my best friends here is almost always late and I've told him many times it's not good to be late.. It's just that he never really listens (~__~ )

  3. I really think they won't change... I get upset sometimes... sometimes really ruined the meeting because I was so upset. But the other person really didn't think it was such a big deal.

    Yes, I had tried to set the meeting time 15 or 30 min before the actually meeting time. But I would always worried that what if that person all the sudden decided to show up on time? Would that make me late?!!! So I would say, "Let's say we will meet at 6:45pm, you know you, always late... but 7:00 is fine..." It's just doesn't make any sense!!! Like can't really plan efficiently. Sometimes I lose track of the REAL time to meet!!! Argh!!!!

  4. yun: Hahaha yeah I can understand your worry to be the latecomer yourself if you use this trick...

    Hmmm difficult to find a solution.. How about calling your friend right before you leave your home to see if s/he will be late this time and adjust accordingly?

    Or bring a book (or audiobook with you if you've a iPod) with you so that you can listen to it when you're waiting for your friend.. At least you're not completely wasting your time this case..

    Please leave a comment if you can think of other tricks :)

  5. Saw two good articles about punctuality on Lifehack:

    Punctuality counts
    How to be on time every time

  6. Nice post. You know what I always bring my ipod or book with me when waiting for friends to show up. That way, even though they're late, you won't be very irratated. It works!

  7. Nino: Yeah that's a good solution, especially when the friend is someone you don't want to end the friendship with and that there's no way to change his/her behavior... I've a friend like that.


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