I’m sure we’ve all heard of “Muslim Standard Time.” It’s a term we use to “excuse” ourselves or a fellow Muslim for being late. It’s a way of downplaying the importance of being punctual. I would have to admit that if my husband ever found out that I (of all people) am writing about time management, I would never hear the end of it! It’s something I’ve struggled with tremendously.
But now that I have started a brand new chapter in my life, being late is something I definitely want to leave behind. I’ve paid a high price for my chronic tardiness throughout the years, but nothing hurts more than being a mother and watching my kids lose out because mommy still can’t get her act together. Participating in activities is generally not our problem, as we make it to them eventually. The real issue is arriving late which often meant that they would miss the crucial introduction of the class. Or sometimes it meant missing on the whole class altogether, like the one time I drove 25 minutes to get them to a french story time just to have them watch the event packing up (definitely not fun!).
Being late is also not courteous for the other person waiting for us. Many people consider being on time for your appointments as a form of Amaanah (trust), as it shows the other person that you are reliable, and that you stay true to your word and respect them. Just as Amaanah (trust) extends into other etiquettes in Islam, so does it when it comes to being punctual.
The prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasalam) said: “Signs of a hypocrite are three: whenever he speaks he lies; whenever he promises, he breaks his promises; and whenever he has been entrusted, be betrays his trust..” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Being punctual can apply here (and we seek refuge from hypocrisy). How often do we tell our friends that we will meet them but have no intention of going or we tell them we will meet them at a certain time but we take our time and arrive really late? I know it’s happened to me one too many occasions, that I was either the one holding up the party or the one kept waiting again by the “usual suspects.” So what actions can we take in order to rectify our mistakes and hopefully make a change?
Here are some tips on being punctual: (Some stolen from my extremely punctual husband)
- Admit you have a problem, and it is a big problem. Stop writing yourself off as a person who runs on “Muslim Standard Time.” There is no such thing!
- Do the math: Often times, people who are late, miscalculate the time they need to get to a place on time. It’s not enough just to calculate the travel time, but you need to also consider other factors such as traffic, and the amount of time it will take to find parking or to get ready. For example, I have four children, and while some of them are very efficient in getting themselves ready, there are a couple that have a tendency to get distracted and lose track of time (they must take after me lol). This tells me I will either need to factor in more time for the children in the latter category (my brood), or make sure to monitor them to keep them on track.
- Make a habit to always arrive 10 minutes earlier then your appointment time. You can bring something to do, if you hate having “dead time/waiting time” like me or enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while you are waiting as a reward ;).
- Get things ready the night before. If you have a big event to attend, make sure you get your clothes and everything ready the night before. No, it’s not cool to just “wing it” all the time, as things will almost always pop up last minute!
- Avoid over scheduling. I have a day in the week that is jam packed so that makes getting to appointments on time, extremely difficult. If possible, try not to schedule too many appointments in one day.
- Say “no” more often. The less things you sign up for, the less chances of you being late for them 😉 I am sure no one will mind if you say “No, I’m afraid I can’t take that on right now, but thanks for asking!”
With these actionable tips, you may find it easier to improve your own punctuality, or that of someone you may know, who is also suffering from the “tardiness syndrome.”