“Punctuality is the soul of business.” – Thomas Chandler Haliburton
It is a common complaint: traditional virtues have been lost in this ‘modern’ age. The pace of life, modern technology, young people, lack of spirituality, commercial pressures— these are just some of the reasons commonly floated for today’s lack of important virtues. One particular virtue, however, is of great importance to business, and any MSP business in particular: punctuality.
Whether we’re talking about meetings, phone calls, emails, upgrades, new products, or fixing problems, punctuality is critically important to your clients and business partners, and therefore to you. But what exactly is it that makes punctuality so important today?
Timeliness in an Age of Rapid Change
Punctuality has always been important but in an age when, ‘thanks’ to technology, financial markets can collapse in a fraction of a second, the commercial meaning of punctuality takes on a whole new light. After all, it is literally the length of the optical fiber connecting the servers of some high-frequency traders to their exchanges that determines who has the economic advantage, based on the speed of light.
The Rarity of Punctuality
We all have a million potential excuses we can deploy to blame for our tardiness. After all, everybody has to deal with the same drawbacks of modern living: bad traffic, missed flight connections, inclement weather, loss of connectivity, dead phone batteries, clogged inboxes, mountainous workloads, and a litany of project dependencies. Some people seem to take a faux hippy approach to life and work, because it’s cool and low-stress. “We’ll get it done, don’t worry.”
Where once tardiness was seen as a mortal sin, it is now often seen as a badge of importance. “Punctuality is the virtue of the bored,” goes one quote. Well, sorry to say, but punctuality is actually a mark of integrity. To paraphrase Karen Jay Fowler, “Arriving late says your time is more valuable than that of the person who waited for you.”
Tardiness is Theft
In effect, being late is stealing from others. You’re taking time away from them. And time is money in the MSP business, is it not?
In such times, punctuality is even more notable. And given the many positive connotations of punctuality, it becomes an even greater mark of distinction in business.
Punctuality Indicates Dependability
If you always arrive at meetings on time, always return calls as promised, always send those emails, always hit those project milestones, it says a lot about you. Clients, colleagues, and business partners have no choice but to see you, and your business, as dependable. How valuable is a commodity to your business to have others see you as always delivering on your promises?
Being Late Hurts You
Being late for things can result in having to rush around. Hurrying to get things done, and getting them late, is stressful. Stress is bad. It’s bad for you, bad for co-workers, and bad for your family life.
How to Avoid Being Late
The subject of how to achieve consistent punctuality is a big one. It is far too big to cover in one short blog post. But there are some key points to consider.
- Prioritize Punctuality – By making punctuality your number one priority, it forces you to arrange your life in a way that supports your primary objective.
- Time Cushions – Engineer time cushions into your schedule. Of course, you don’t want too many gaps and you don’t want them too big, but you can arrange tasks so that when you’re ahead of schedule, you still have something constructive to fill those gaps.
- Time Tasks – Keep track of how long your tasks take. With more experience, your ability to gauge the time needed for each task will improve and your schedule will get tighter, more accurate.
- Structure Your Day – Don’t go through the day willy-nilly. Allocate blocks for vital daily tasks and focus on them.
Planning, monitoring, reviewing, and modifying are vital for any MSP business. When it comes to punctuality, applying these to your timekeeping will help you to avoid being late. By avoiding being late, you engender greater confidence and respect for your business.