A System of Determining Punctuality

I will grant that I have a very loose, extremely pliable system for deciding whether or not I am “on time” for all sorts of activities, most notably, work. I use this system to justify my internal argument that “oh, I’m still on time,” knowing full well that if the facts were presented to any other reasonable person, I would most likely not be judged so.

Let’s begin by using today as an example:
I have a meeting at 1 o’clock, so I decided I would go to lunch at 11:30, giving myself a little time back at my desk before said meeting. An Outlook reminder went off and told me to go to lunch right at 11:30.


I was finishing an email and this took me until 11:32. Since it was past 11:30, the “time I left,” automatically gets rounded up to the next 5-minute mark (similarly, “leaving at 11:30” would constitute any time between 11:26 and 11:30).


Now the beautiful part here is that by leaving 2 minutes later, I actually bought myself an extra 8 minutes. Because, in addition to the 5-Minute Round Up, under this system a person is always on time if they arrive within 5 minutes of the scheduled time. Therefore, I could get back to work at 12:40 and still be “on time.” This also allows me to make it in to work by about 7:50 each morning and yes, still completely “on time.”


The inherent fallacy of our timekeeping instruments can also be a benefit under this system. You see, the big clock on the wall in our office, by which I will always measure my punctuality, is about 3 minutes behind my computer clock, phone, etc. So, at 11:40 on my watch, it will only be 11:37 on the wall. You’d think this would just help me to be a little “early” on my return, but that’s not the case. A determination of 11:40 means 11:40 by whichever clock will give you the most favorable measurement. So, if I don’t have to be back until 12:40 on the wall clock, that means 12:43 by my watch. And, since :43 is past :40, you guessed it—the 5-Minute Rule. I “left” at 11:45, and back in 60 minutes-plus.


So I walked out the door at 11:33, and through some very simple and illogical reasoning, I bought myself an extra 12 minutes for my 60-minute lunch. And, 12 minutes just happens to be the same amount of time it takes me to walk home. Please feel free to exploit this system whenever you need to, and if necessary, even brand it as your own. It’s highly effective in an environment where no “clock punching” actually happens. It has been my experience, though, that a timeclock is not as forgiving as a confused supervisor.

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