Has punctuality become a quaint, outdated virtue? Does it really matter anymore? If you think it does (or your boss does), here are some common sense tips for being on time.

Is it just kids who say the darndest things?

How about adults?

For example, check out these excuses people gave for being late to work. They're honest-to-goodness excuses from a CareerBuilder study.

A zebra was running down the highway and held up traffic (turned out to be true).

Woke up on the front lawn of a house two blocks away from home.

Cat got stuck in the toilet.

Ran out of milk and had to buy some before getting ready for work.

Fell asleep in the car when I got to work.

Accidentally put superglue in my eye instead of contact lens solution and had to go to the emergency room.

Thought Halloween was a work holiday.

There was a hole in the room that caused rain to fall on the alarm clock so it didn't go off.

Was watching something on TV and really wanted to see the end.

Forgot the company had changed locations.

Got a hairbrush stuck in my hair.

Was scared by a nightmare.

While you may be shaking your head in disbelief over the unique excuses some employees have for being late, here are the most common:

  • 39 percent traffic
  • 19 percent lack of sleep
  • 8 percent public transportation
  • 7 percent weather
  • 6 percent dropping their children off at daycare or school

Even though the top five excuses are more reasonable than escaped zebras and superglue mishaps, employers, for the most part, do not consider lateness a laughing matter. One in three (35 percent) have fired an employee for tardiness, and 48 percent expect their employees to be on time every day.

"Most employers understand that occasionally things pop up and cause employees to be behind schedule. The trouble comes when tardiness becomes a habit," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.

Tips for the punctually challenged

As a busy working adult and online learner juggling professional, educational and personal responsibilities, you may not have an issue with meeting deadlines for school or work, but a simple thing like getting out the door in the morning is your Achilles heel.

In her book,"Never Be Late Again author Diana DeLonzor defines "punctually challenged" as "having the inexplicable ability to arise at six, yet still be late to work at nine."

If you're severely punctually challenged, check out the seven "cures" in DeLonzor's book.

However, if your tardiness is merely sporadic, here are some tips to help prevent you from sliding down the proverbial slippery slope any farther.

  1. Admit that tardiness is a problem: It may not bother you, but being habitually late affects others. Supermodel Cindy Crawford said it best: "Tardiness is the biggest disrespect."
  2. Get a clock. One for every room in your house, including the bathroom.
  3. Disable the snooze button: Mentally, that is. Get out of bed on time, preferably a few minutes earlier than you think you're going to need. What's the worst that could happen? You have time for a second cup of coffee?
  4. Be prepared: Plan ahead. Lay out clothes and fix lunches the night before. Pack backpacks and briefcases and put them by the front door. And if you're going someplace new, know your route. If it's a job interview, take a trial run the day before if at all possible. It will be one less thing to stress over.
  5. Paint a mental picture: Think through everything you need to do to get out the door, every step you need to take to reach your destination. Then realistically estimate how long it will take and work backwards from the time you need to be there.
  6. Plan for the unexpected: Because babies do spit up as you're heading out the door, kids do forget homework, and traffic is unpredictable. So after you complete that mental checklist, pad on extra time.
  7. Stay focused. Don't be distracted by yesterday's mail lying on the table.

Sound like common sense? Of course, it does.

But then as Voltaire said, "Common sense is not so common."

Do you think it's important to be punctual? What tips do you have for being on time?

Image Credit: JD Hancock on Flickr/Creative Commons

Other blog posts you may be interested in reading:

How to Develop a Good Work Ethic in 5 Easy Steps

Why Developing a Good Work Ethic is Essential to Career Success

Snack Your Way To More Brain Power