The urgency of punctuality

By Herman M. Lagon

THE CULTURE of lateness in submitting reports and outputs has become a pervasive issue that needs a deeper reflection. It is a phenomenon that affects the efficiency and productivity of organizations and reflects on the values and work ethic of individuals and institutions.

We Filipinos, known for our warmth and hospitality, have been grappling with timeliness in various aspects of our lives, including report submissions. In our pursuit of excellence, we sometimes find ourselves entangled in a web of procrastination and a lackadaisical approach to deadlines. This culture of mediocrity, characterized by subpar outputs delivered tardily, has seeped into our professional and academic lives.

Contrast this with countries like Japan, Germany, Switzerland, and Singapore, where punctuality is not just a virtue but a way of life. Submitting requirements on time and with quality output is non-negotiable in these nations. Surprisingly, this is also true for the immigrants—Filipinos included—working and living in these countries. The stark difference in their approach to timeliness has allowed them to excel in various fields, from manufacturing to research and development.

So, what can we do to combat the culture of lateness and cultivate a sense of urgency in our work, duties, roles, and studies?

Firstly, it might help to recognize the negative consequences of lateness. Late submissions disrupt workflows, compromise the quality of work, and erode trust and reliability. They can also lead to missed opportunities and inefficient resource allocation. Understanding these implications may be the first practical step toward change.

Secondly, we may need to foster a cultural shift towards punctuality and avoid the notorious “Filipino time.” This shift requires setting clear expectations, providing support and resources, and implementing consequences for chronic late submissions. It is not about imposing strict rules but creating an environment where punctuality is valued and rewarded.

In companies and schools, leveraging technology and automation tools can streamline processes, reducing the likelihood of lateness. Training and education on time management and the importance of meeting deadlines at home, school, churches, organizations, and the workplace can eventually equip individuals with the skills and resolve needed to overcome procrastination.

Incentives and rewards for meeting deadlines may motivate individuals and teams to prioritize punctuality, while including timeliness in performance evaluations can reinforce the importance of being on time. Strengthening the memo system may help in extreme cases but affective, not technical, solutions always take the prime role.

Furthermore, promoting a culture of open feedback—another mindset that many of us Filipinos might frown upon—and continuous improvement can help identify the root causes of lateness and develop strategies to address them. It is essential to create an atmosphere where individuals feel empowered to share their challenges and work collectively toward solutions and feel allergic to and sorry for dragging one’s feet.

This culture of lateness in submitting reports and outputs is a complex but manageable issue. We can mitigate its impact by recognizing its negative consequences, fostering a cultural shift towards punctuality, and implementing practical strategies. Let us embrace the urgency of punctuality, which is the cornerstone of efficiency, respect, professionalism, and success. We can transform our culture and excel in all our endeavors with God’s grace.


The Top 8 installment of my “Exploring my Top 10 favorite movies” series will be featured in my next column. As a reminder, my top movies featured in Impulses thus far include Top 10: Magnifico, Heneral Luna, Joker, and Ender’s Game; and Top 9: 12 Years a Slave and The Three Idiots. Stay tuned for the next installment!