When is it ok to be late for a meeting? (How can you improve time management at work?)

Let’s answer the first part of the question first

Being late for anything — a business meeting, a luncheon, an appointment with a client — suggests a lack of integrity. However, there are times when it’s out of your control, and you can’t help it. Something happens to slow you down, and there is no way you can make it to your date, appointment, business meeting, or other engagement by the designated time. It’s what you do next that matters now…

Here are the things you MUST do in chronological order if you know you’re going to be late:

  1. Call as soon as you know you can’t make it on time. If you can’t get through, leave a voicemail and try again in 5 minutes.
  2. Send a text or an email, if the person you’re meeting with cannot make it to the phone they still may get your message.
  3. If you’ll be more than five or ten minutes late, discuss whether or not it is best to reschedule.

So how can you prevent the above situation?

Time management is the key to your dilemma, you can easily stay on time and dig through your list of things to do when you have the right time management strategy in place.

Make a To-Do List

A simple step to take to improve time management at work is to make a to-do list. Using my diary I divide each new page into two columns. The left side for notes and the right side is my to-do list. I list each action item I need to have achieved that day, highlighting each when their completed. Should there be any points not done, they are transferred to the next page for immediate action the very next day.

Prioritize your items in terms of importance as well as due dates and times.

By doing so, you may realize that you have more time to complete the items than you thought you did. Take a deep breath, and jump into the first item on your list wholeheartedly. Complete it fully before moving on to action item number two. When prioritising tasks I go by the saying ‘If you can’t, you must’. That is to say, if you feel you’re putting off the most important task you must do it first. Mark Twain famously said that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you.

Where possible try to avoid Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking is a popular buzzword, and some people love to brag about how many proverbial balls they can juggle at work at one time. However, some studies have proven that multi-tasking actually takes up more time than focusing on one task at a time fully. Therefore, avoid multi-tasking, and use a strategy of focusing on one action item at a time.

Reduce Possible Distractions

There are numerous distractions in most workplaces, and there are often steps that you can take to eliminate some distractions. For example, if the person in the next cubicle distracts you when he is on the phone, you can invest in earplugs or use headphones to listen to light music while you work. Identify what your distractions are, and take steps to eliminate them strategically.

Plan ahead

One of the worst things you can do is jump into the workday with no clear idea about what needs to get done. The time you spend thinking ahead and planning your activities is trivial compared with the time you’ll lose jumping from one thing to the next (and rarely completing anything).

How to plan ahead…

  • The night before — At the end of the day, take 15 minutes to clear your desk and put together a list of the next day’s most pressing tasks. It’s a great decompression technique, and you’ll feel better sitting down at a clean desk in the morning.
  • First thing in the morning — Arrive a few minutes early and assemble your prioritized to-do list. This may prove to be the most productive part of your day.

Time management is important in the workplace. It can increase productivity and efficiency dramatically, and this can help you to get through even your busiest days successfully. Take time to explore these tips, and adopt them into your workday to improve time management.