By Johanne Bouchard
Explore Big Sky Business Columnist

Do you consistently find yourself running short of time? Is it difficult to be punctual for meetings with colleagues, dinner with friends, or leisure activities?

People lose respect for you when you’re constantly late. As a business leader, you project that other people’s time is less important than yours, which is presumptuous and rude. If you’re an employee, you project that you can’t effectively manage your time, and that you might be irresponsible. Whatever your title or obligations, you have a choice to be reliable.

With all the technology available to help manage our time, there are no excuses for habitual tardiness.

Of course, we can all be late occasionally due to uncontrollable or unavoidable circumstances. But typically we can prepare to be on time by being better organized.

Constantly underestimating traffic or the time it takes to get to a location; having to get gas and not planning ahead; leaving late; or taking a call when you know you shouldn’t are all controllable situations.

If you are chronically tardy, ask yourself these questions:

– Before going to bed at night, review what you have on your calendar the next day – do you schedule enough time between meetings, or do you set yourself up for being late?
– Do you set your alarm early enough to leave on time?
– When your alarm goes off, do you get right out of bed or hit snooze?
– Do you let yourself get too engrossed in a project that you lose sight of time?

Did you answer yes to any of these questions? If so, here are some things you might consider trying:
– Allow extra time between meetings, and before you leave the house in the morning.
– Take ownership of being on time – make it your responsibility.
– When working on an engrossing project, set an alarm to ensure that you stop on time.

If you’ve done everything you can and still expect to be late, have the courtesy to notify those who are waiting for you and, if appropriate, offer to reschedule.

Showing up on time – regardless of your title, your responsibilities and the commitments you have – will cause your life to flow better. People will notice your punctuality, and your consistent punctuality may inspire reciprocity.

If you are on time, it’s OK to let others know that you’d appreciate them to be on time for your next meeting. Don’t be too quick to judge, but have the courage to respect yourself by letting others know that you appreciate their respect for your time.

Johanne Bouchard, a former high-tech executive, is a leadership advisor to CEOs, executives and entrepreneurs, as well as an expert in corporate board composition and dynamics. An avid skier, Bouchard and her husband have a second home in Big Sky. See more at johannebouchard.com.