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Breaking Free From Filipino Time

“No matter how amazing your article or story is, if you don’t turn it in on time, it’s useless—and this inefficiency will say so much about your character and capabilities.” This lesson from one of my Journalism professors in UP Diliman is perhaps the one most ingrained in my mind. I must admit I don’t meet deadlines 100 percent of the time, nor am I always the earliest bird at meeting or events—but I do my best to be punctual both in my work and in my personal life. I believe being on time has more to do with respect—valuing the time of other people—than just, well, being on time. But, of course, there’s “Filipino time”: Never early, always late. Wouldn’t it be cooler to be known around the world for valuing time?

We know you can’t control others who are still running on Filipino time, but these habits will help you fare better in the punctuality game—and hopefully, influence others to do the same. Because here’s the real deal: We can help make a better and more productive world just by being on time.


  1. Set your clock 15 minutes earlier—but forget that you did. You have to believe in and imbibe the fact that that 15-minute early time setting is the actual time so you won’t be tempted to think you still have more time to prepare or lounge around. The time allowance is for unexpected diversions (traffic not included—you should have already factored it into your travel time), and if there are none, then even better: You get to your appointments on time. Stick to this habit no matter how tempting it is to hit snooze again.


  1. Always expect a traffic jam. We already know that EDSA and most major thoroughfares are congested all day, every day, so stop using it as an excuse for your tardiness. It’s better to overestimate your travel time than underestimate it, because a five-minute delay can make a whole world of difference in our city’s streets.


  1. When it comes to projects, set a personal deadline three days to one week before the actual submission. This gives you leeway to go over your project one more time and amp it up before you have to turn it in. We know you can multitask like crazy so we highly suggest time-blocking: Schedule 30 minutes a day to work on each of your projects to make sure there’s progress no matter how little it may be. You also won’t feel drained by working on just one project because you vary your activities.


  1. Last minute work always pops up: Still get to submit on time by not overcommitting. Okay, so you won’t really be able to turn down tasks your bosses throw your way, but you can control your work traffic by managing your commitments. For tasks where you’ll be given the option to decline or delegate, do so—especially when you know you’ve already got your hands full with other deadlines. This will also ensure quality work and your output will not suffer.


  1. Handle time with care. Think about the impact your carelessness with time has on other people: While you have so many things on your plate, you have to consider the people around you as well—how they have to adjust their schedules and their lives just because your meeting started late (therefore ending late), your project didn’t come in on time (hence production and such have to be rescheduled). It’s a domino effect, really. Remember the golden rule: Do not do unto others what you don’t want others to do to you. Then again, if they do it to you, it doesn’t matter: Rise above the mediocrity and change the norm.


This article first appeared in METRO Magazine June 2015. Photos courtesy of Katarzyna Kos  and Jon Tyson on Unsplash.