Why Punctuality Is Important

Punctuality is important for many reasons, one of which being safety. When you’re late to a meeting or appointment that can cause an issue with the person on the other end, not only will you be penalized but also look bad in their eyes and could potentially hurt your reputation

Punctuality is important for students because it allows them to get more out of their time. It also helps them with their grades, and other aspects of their lives. Read more in detail here: why punctuality is important for students.

Vintage man businessman hat off looking at clock.

Note: For additional information on how to be more timely, see our follow-up post. 

George Washington’s life was defined by his meticulous attention to detail.

When he asked a man to bring by some horses he was interested in buying at five a.m., and the man arrived fifteen minutes late, the stable groom informed him that the general had been waiting there at five a.m., but had now moved on to other business, and he wouldn’t be able to examine the horses again until the following week.

He could nearly invariably be spotted walking into the chamber just as the clock struck twelve when he informed Congress he’d meet with them at noon.

Washington’s punctuality extended to his mealtimes. He ate dinner at 4 p.m. every day, and when members of Congress were asked to eat with him and came late, they were sometimes astonished to find the president halfway through his meal or even pushing back from the table. “We are timely here,” he would tell his astonished, late visitor. My chef never inquires as to whether the guests have arrived, but rather if the hour has arrived.”

When Washington’s secretary came late for a conference and blamed his watch, Washington gently said, “Then you must acquire another watch, or I will have to find another secretary.”

George Washington’s enthusiasm for timeliness stemmed from his early study of “The Rules of Civility,” which included repeated copying of maxims such as “Undertake not what you cannot Perform, but be Careful to Keep Your Promise.” Being on time was a way for Washington to demonstrate respect for others, and he expected to be treated with the same respect in return.

Although we no longer live in a world of underwear and powdered wigs, being on time is as crucial as it has always been. It’s been described as “a homely, but substantial virtue,” and it doesn’t make one’s breasts expand as contemplating courage or resolve does. But, since timeliness is linked to discipline and self-mastery, as well as integrity and respect, it is still an important feature of an upstanding man’s character, even if it isn’t very attractive.

Today, we’ll look at why this is, and on Wednesday, we’ll look at why some guys, despite their best efforts, struggle to be on time, as well as recommendations on how to break the habit of being late.

What Is the Importance of Punctuality?

“Once formed, the habit of being prompt extends to everything — meeting friends, paying debts, attending church, reaching and leaving place of business, keeping promises, retiring at night and rising in the morning, attending lectures and town meetings, and, indeed, to every relation and act, however insignificant it may appear to observers.” Tact and Grit, William Makepeace Thayer, 1882

Punctuality is not universally valued and differs from culture to culture. Life moves at a different speed in certain locations, such as Latin America and the Pacific Islands, and meeting times are designed to be ambiguous. But, just as the well-rounded man of the West seeks competence in things like shaking hands, wearing a tie, working out with a kettlebell, and holding open doors for women, even if such things are not practiced everywhere, this does not negate the value of punctuality to a man living in a culture that does define being on time more strictly.


This is why.

“I’ve always been a quarter of an hour ahead of schedule, and it’s made me a man.” -Lord Nelson, Horatio

The Importance of Punctuality

Punctuality both improves and displays your character. When you tell someone you’ll meet them at a specific time, you’ve effectively made a commitment to them. And if you say you’ll be there at 8:00 but show up at 8:15, you’ve effectively violated your word. Being punctual demonstrates that you are a man of your word to others.

Being on time demonstrates your dependability. Punctuality displays dependability. A guy may always be found at his position, doing the responsibilities that are required at the moment. People know they can count on him; if he says he’ll be there, he’ll show up. Others can’t rely on a guy who isn’t timely since they don’t know where he will be when they need him. His colleagues will start to believe he can’t manage his own time, and these concerns will go beyond the clock, since it naturally prompts the question, “If he can’t manage his own time, what else can he do?”

“I have often found that the guy who is brilliant at an excuse is good for nothing else,” Benjamin Franklin reportedly quipped to an employee who was constantly late but always ready with an explanation.

Being on time boosts your self-esteem. Arriving on time not only demonstrates to others that you are trustworthy, but it also demonstrates to yourself that you can rely on yourself. Your self-confidence will increase as you maintain the commitments you make. And the more self-mastery you develop, the less at the mercy of your compulsions and habits you will feel, and the more in command of your life you will feel.

Being on time ensures that you are at your best. It’s difficult to concentrate on giving a presentation at a conference or charming a date after riding on someone’s bumper, driving like a crazy, scanning for police, and yelling at red lights — you’re shaking and exhausted from the adrenaline and stress. When you arrive on time, or even a little early, you have a few minutes to gather your thoughts, go through your materials, and put on your game face.

“Soldiers should be minutemen,” says the author. One of the most significant characteristics a soldier can have is punctuality.” –Hints to Company Officers on Their Military Duties, 1863, by Christopher Columbus Andrews

Punctuality demonstrates and strengthens your discipline. The timely guy demonstrates that he can manage his time, that he is detail-oriented, and that he can put this aside to achieve that – that he can put pleasure aside to take care of business.

“‘There is tremendous dignity in being waited for,’ commented one who was used to it, and who didn’t have anything to waste unless it was his lack of promptness.” –From John Todd’s The Students Manual, published in 1854.


Being on time demonstrates your humility. “Always late, but worth the wait” is a bumper sticker slogan that highlights how tardiness and an overestimation of one’s value may go hand in hand. When you arrive, people will be happy to see you, but they will be much happier if you are on time.

Vintage man businessman waiting on bench despondent.

Punctuality demonstrates your regard for others. Being habitually late is a selfish act since it prioritizes your demands above the needs of others. You want an additional minute to do anything you want, but in order to get that minute, you have to take a minute away from someone else, which is why….

Lateness is a sort of thievery. That is a harsh reality, but it is a reality nevertheless. When you make people wait for you, you are robbing them of precious minutes. They might have converted that time into money or just utilized it for the things that mattered to them. They may have made sacrifices to meet you at the agreed-upon hour – gotten up early, cut their exercise short, told their child they couldn’t read a tale together – and your tardiness contradicts those efforts. If you wouldn’t take 10 bucks from another person’s wallet, you shouldn’t steal ten minutes from him, either. Being timely demonstrates that you respect your time and would not consider depriving others of this valuable but finite resource.

“Time has been said to be money. That adage exaggerates the situation. Time is much more valuable than money. You can typically get money if you have time. But you can’t buy yourself a minute more time than I or the cat by the fire, even if you had the riches of a Carlton Hotel cloakroom attendant.” –How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day, 1910, by Arnold Bennett

Being persistently late causes other people’s experiences to be disrupted. Others are robbed not just of their time, but also of the totality of their experiences, as a result of your tardiness. The student who interrupts a lecturer in the midst of a lecture; the family that jumps over you in the theater to get to their seats in the center of the row; the guy who opens the creaky door in the middle of a eulogy. “I made it my religion not to disrupt the religion of others,” said an elderly man when asked why he had been so timely in coming to his church on time for decades.

Lateness puts a burden on your connections. When you’re late for appointments, it makes other people feel undervalued, as if whatever you couldn’t get away from was more essential, or as if they didn’t matter enough to you to justify allotting enough time to come on time. Your visitor feels like a dope waiting for you at the airport alone, your date feels uneasy eating at the restaurant alone, and your kid feels abandoned as she waits with her teacher for you to come, while all the other children have already been picked up from school.


Vintage man businessman suit running after train.

Being late has a negative impact on your professional career. Being late may sabotage your professional success, whether you’re an employee or a sole proprietor. Many businesses have rigorous punctuality rules – receive a few write-ups and you’re out. Of all, if you’re late for a job interview, you’re unlikely to get the job in the first place. And if you’re trying to win over a new customer, showing up ten minutes late isn’t going to help, any more than promising to provide something by a specific date and then failing to do so may cause him to search elsewhere for your services.

Being late has a negative impact on your life. Always being behind harms you in every aspect of your life. It leads to missed chances, such as missing an aircraft, a meeting, an essential section of a presentation, or a wedding. It causes anxiety and might result in automobile accidents and traffic violations. It causes humiliation and requires you to make reasons for why you’re late, putting your honesty to the test. Basically, it complicates your life; for guys who want to simplify their lives, practicing timeliness is an important part of the process.

Part II: The Reasons You’re Late and How to Never Be Late may be found here. 


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Punctuality is the level of adherence to an agreed-upon time-frame. It is important because it allows people to plan their schedules, and it is also a way to show respect for others. Reference: what is punctuality.

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