Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Importance of Being on Time

Time is a reality of life that is utterly inescapable. Like God, it is omnipresent as no matter what a person does; time will always run out for things to be done and tasks to be finished. The factory worker in a tire factory will always have to make sure that he reaches the production quota set by management, lest he be fired from the company. The lawyer will have to ensure that he finishes the entire research of the pleading in a civil rights case, lest he be scolded by the judge and compromise the case of his client. The student will have to wake up early, lest he be late for school and earn the ire of the school administrators for tardiness. The investment banker of Morgan Stanley will lose his clients to other investment banks if he misses the train for canoodling with his wife before leaving home. In all of these examples, a major contributing factor for all of their actions is being on time. However, like God, time is also one of the most underestimated things in life, taken for granted as though it is never important. This paper aims to justify the importance of being on time as part of the daily life of persons and even society. There are three reasons why being on time is important – efficiency and productivity, (missed) opportunities, and cordial respect to peers and superiors.

Efficiency and Productivity

Being on time is actually an economic decision which is based on the concept of maximization of scarce resources in the least possible amount of time. In a given time frame for production, an hour for example, being late for a few minutes is already tantamount to a lessening of the production output for an entire hour because those few minutes of lateness were spent on idle work unrelated to the production at hand, such as being in transit. For example, if a female textile worker in China arrived five minutes late as production of Ralph Lauren shirts starts factory-wide, her lateness may delay the entire assembly line of production, especially when the female worker occupies a specialized and indispensable function in the assembly line, such a quality control officer that inspects each and every shirt that is produced by the factory. As a result of the delay in the operations due to a single person’s lateness, the profits and production for the day of the company might decrease in comparison to days when the factory worker arrives on time or prior to the start of production. In this example, the simple lateness of a person compromised the operations of the entire company, resulting to less efficiency and productivity leading to fewer profits. Another example of such lack of efficiency and productivity is in the classroom setting, especially in the universities when professors can invoke academic freedom on the way they choose to teach, to the extent that such freedom is used as the paramount excuse for their lateness or even absence in lectures. If the lecture on constitutional law, for instance, aims to cover the entire concept and jurisprudence of the due process clause for the day, the lateness of the professor of around fifteen minutes for a two-hour class already short-changes the students of his class because instead of covering the entire planned lecture, the professor might either reschedule the latter part on another day, or lecture so fast to finish everything to the prejudice of the full comprehension of students of the lecture. More so, such lateness also takes its toll on the resources of the university as a good fifteen minutes is devoted not for academic learning but idly waiting for the professor to arrive. Multiply this to the number of professors who are frequently late and the number of times that these professors are actually late, it could stretch on for hours on end that the school’s resources are wasted. In both cases, lateness instead of being on time lessens efficiency and productivity not only of the single late person but the other interacting parties as well.

(Missed) Opportunities

On a lighter note, being on time can determine the making or unmaking of a person, a group and even a people. The best example for this would be meeting deadlines for term papers and thesis in all academic levels. Many brilliant men and women have failed to graduate with honors or even failed to graduate at all for the simple reason that they failed to submit their papers on time. This does not speak simply of the final deadline but includes the submission of piece-meal parts of researches for the assessment of the professors and teachers as a delay even of the first part of a research or its draft can lead to cumulative consequences in the end, to the extent that many students would resort to procrastination through plagiarism, among many other things. On the other hand, being on time does not simply including arriving at the expected time but also pertains to being at the exact historical moment when destiny knocks on one’s door, as lateness and even early birds can jeopardize the seizing of opportunities for a person, a group or a people. Had the American liberation forces been late or too early when they set foot on Normandy, the history of the world might have been entirely different. Crudely too, if the geeky boy-next-door in a physics class delayed for another day the admission of love to his pretty classmate, the girl of his dreams might have soon gone steady with the high school jock. The point of this part is very fundamental – being on time, in the ways enumerated above, presents people with opportunities which they might soon miss or lose if they came even just a bit late or came a little too early.

Cordial Respect to Peers and Superiors

Finally, being on time gives the impression of cordial respect to peers and superiors to the extent that their time spent with the person on time is laden with trust, confidence and respect. It includes not only personal relationships but professional relationships as well, especially in sealing contracts and negotiating better terms for the company one represents. For example, the other party to a multi-billion dollar contract would more likely have better rapport and confidence to a person who comes flawlessly on time with all the documents prepared rather than a person late for the same corporate meeting because a person on time tacitly accords good faith and cordial relations to the other party by simply being on time.

In all of these, the three reasons above suffice to convincingly prove the importance of being on time, not only in simple social-anecdotal terms but also insofar as presenting the economic side of being on time. In the ultimate analysis, there actually no need to problematize and even embark on such a discourse on the importance of being on time. Such a trait should already be inherent in men and women who value people other than themselves. While lateness per se is really hard to eradicate especially when excuses are valid, lateness should be more of a very strict exception rather than a general rule, especially among young people who usually do otherwise. Be on time, and things will definitely get better in the long run, in all aspect of a person’s life.

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