It’s not your clients. It’s not the recession. It’s not the marketplace. It’s you.

I’ve seen a dramatic, broad increase in lateness, cancellations, and just plain not showing up.

It’s unprofessional. It’s clearly states that you really do not value the other person’s time. And as many of my corporate colleagues used to say, it might be a ‘power’ play, but I find it rude.

I fully understand if you are late due to extenuating circumstances (traffic, sickness, late client, etc.), or if you let the person know way ahead of time that you will be late. This allows the person to make the decision to keep the appointment, reschedule, or cancel it. That’s good business.

But when I get last minute calls to cancel (multiple times) or when I’m sitting in a restaurant and the person I’m meeting never shows up – it’s frustrating.

My dentist just had all his patients sign a form to communicate a late policy — if you call to reschedule your appointment (or miss your appointment) within a 24-hour window, they will be charging $50 fee on your credit card. Ouch. But jolly-good for him!

So during this spring season, try focusing more on your time. Not only will it pay dividends, it will deliver an increased appreciation of your talents from all the people you meet. In addition, you turn the stress level way down.

Here are some techniques I use to be on time:

  • I leave early. Way early. So when I get to my destination early, I get to do a little work. Like writing this blog post.
  • I buffer adequate amounts of travel time between appointments. This allows me to easily make it to my next appointment without worry.
  • If a client or colleague runs late, I immediately state at the start of the meeting that I have a hard stop at the top of the hour. It’s polite and let’s them know that my time is important without insulting them.
  • I use my time effectively. If time is short, I work with the person I’m meeting to quickly hit all the salient points we need to cover. No dilly-dallying.
  • I plan my day. And I stick to it. Most people I know don’t do this. Do it.
  • I check email and voicemail at certain times of the day, not all the time. Unless I arrived early, then if I have time to kill prior to a meeting or call, I’ll check it.

Are you late often? Do you cancel appointments at the last minute? Do you expect other colleagues to understand when you reschedule at the last minute?