The Problem with Tardiness and How to Stop Being Late for Work

man on time - early and ready

To some people, being on time is naturally more important than it is to others. They show up early to everything: meetings, interviews, even to work every day. In an office environment with a time clock, they're the ones standing there waiting to clock in as soon as the time flips over; at a party, they're the ones you can rely on to show up early.

woman looking at clock - 5 minutes late

To some people, however, being prompt just isn't that important--and it shows. If you've developed an ongoing habit of being five or ten minutes late to almost everything you do, it has the potential to seriously impact your career--even without you noticing it. 

Why You Shouldn't Be Late

time on laptop - tardy again

When you're tardy, it creates a negative view of you. It tells your employer that you aren't as invested in your job as you are in whatever you were doing before you got there--and that you aren't making the company a priority. While occasional tardiness happens, if you're late on a regular basis, you can expect several things to happen.

  • You'll be passed over for raises and promotions: if you can't be counted on in your current role, the company won't be willing to move you up.
  • Chronic tardiness when you're working for a staffing company makes the agency look bad, which means they'll be less likely to work with you in the future.  
  • Your current employer will mention your tardiness if you use them as a reference, which means that future employers may pass you by.

Employer in a Bind

When you're late, it doesn't just impact your daily schedule. There are people relying on you to be on time so that they can do their jobs. If there's a meeting on the schedule, you need to be there when it starts--especially if there's a client involved--so that you don't put everyone else behind. If you're replacing another employee, you need to be on time so that they can go home. When you're tardy, you put everyone around you in a bind. Chronic tardiness is a habit that you need to break to create a more successful career for yourself and a better work environment for everyone around you.

clock shows late again

Breaking the Tardiness Habit

You don't mean to be late. Your job is important to you, and you want to create a great impression with your employer. Unfortunately, you just looked up at the clock as you hurried into the building, and you're ten minutes late--again.

How do you break the miserable cycle and bad habit of being late?


1. Get up earlier

time - alarm 6am

Sure, that snooze button is tempting. All you want is to spend a few more minutes in bed. Those minutes, however, would be better spent getting out the door a bit sooner. Set your alarm earlier by the amount of time that you're typically late, get out of bed, and get out the door.

Also, if you can go to bed a little earlier, you may get more rest and find your morning alarm less dreadful.

2. Time yourself

See how long it takes to accomplish the things that you're doing in the morning. Are you hitting the gym before work? Pay attention to how long it takes you. Do you have to drop the kids off at school? See how long it really takes to get through the line at the time when you normally drop them off. Be honest: don't rush through those tasks on turbo speed so that you can claim they take less time than they really do.

3. Get rid of the excuses

tardiness - no more excuses

If you constantly hear yourself saying, "Oh, traffic was bad this morning!" then it's time to work that into your regular schedule. Memphis traffic, for example, is always bad. You might as well accept it and make it part of your routine. Whatever your most regular excuse is, start accounting for it in the time you allow yourself in the mornings before work. 

4. Leave extra time

If you drop your child off at school, is there a chance that their teacher will need to talk to you? Is traffic routinely worse on some days than others? Leaving extra time in your schedule will allow you to meet those challenges without being late to work. 

If you truly wish to correct chronic tardiness, you must take the appropriate steps to break this bad habit. Do whatever it takes to become a better manager of your time and to become known for your promptness rather than your tardiness.

If you truly wish to correct chronic tardiness, you must take the appropriate steps to break this bad habit. Do whatever it takes to become a better manager of your time and to become known for your promptness rather than your tardiness.

5. Trick yourself

Set your clocks forward a few minutes so that it looks like it's later than it is. If you can stop yourself from doing the mental math, it might help propel you to take the steps necessary to be on time. 

Learning to be on time is challenging, but it can be done! Your promptness shows your employer that you genuinely care about your job.

For more helpful hints in fighting tardiness, check out this additional blog post from Brannon Professionals, "The Battle With Tardiness: How to Improve Your Evening and Morning Routines."

If you're ready to tackle a new job where you are on time, energetic, and ready to get started every day, contact us to learn how we can help pair you with your ideal company.