Late, early, or right on time?
Pretty much everyone can agree that being on time is a good habit to develop and nurture. One trait you never want to be known for is running chronically late. You know the type – maybe you are the type! Traffic. Kids. Dogs. The phone. There’s always an excuse – some of them sincere, or actually true. But when you’re labeled an HTP (habitually tardy person), it can reflect badly on you, both in your personal and professional lives.
But what about the person who is chronically early? Have you ever heard those people who spout the refrain, “If you’re on time, you’re late”? No, you’re not. If you’re on time, you’re on time. You have a good sense of time. You know it takes less than an hour to get across town, and you budget accordingly. You know you’re low on gas, so you leave a few minutes early and stop at the gas station on your way. You’ve checked your wallet and know you need to hit an ATM before going to your networking luncheon. And still, you get there on time. Not 30 minutes early. Not 15 minutes late. On time.
There was a funny scene in last Sunday’s episode of The Good Wife. Alicia is preparing for her mother-in-law’s wedding party, which is to take place in her apartment. The doorbell rings, and Alicia says to her daughter, “It’s 10 of. They’re not supposed to be here for 10 more minutes.” Trust me, I know the difference 10 minutes can make, but when you’re having people over, you can always expect them to start showing up at least 10 minutes before the event’s posted start time. Sometimes they show up as much as a half-hour early.
I’ve experienced the frustration of arriving at a venue 45 minutes early to set up for my small event, glad I’m not rushed and comfortable that I will have plenty of time to prepare in a relaxed manner – only to find someone already there, waiting. And the nature of that early person seems never to be to wait quietly … or to offer to help. The nature of that early person is to want to engage you in conversation, completely oblivious to the fact that you arrived early because you have things to do.
My point is that arriving extra early is just as rude as arriving late – sometimes more so. When people post an event start time, they choose that time for a reason. They have errands to do and accommodations to make and they are relying on the time prior to the posted start time to get those things done.
I’m no perfectionist when it comes to running on time. Occasionally I’m five minutes late; once in a while, I’m five minutes early. But more often than not, I’m right on time. As a frequent host of author events, I recommend getting there early if you are a vendor or volunteer who can help set up. You can’t skate in 5 minutes before the doors are supposed to open and expect to create an attractive, inviting, professional display. But if you’re an event patron – or a regular meeting attendee – on time is a good goal.
Some organizations build networking time into their meetings. For example, the posted start time for a luncheon is 11:30 a.m., but people are not asked to be seated so the formal program can begin until 11:45. Other groups prefer that you do your networking in the 10 or 15 minutes before the posted start time. Do your research ahead of time and learn the particulars for the group you’ll be visiting so you know what to expect when you get there.
Heading to a new venue you’ve never been to before? Allow yourself some extra time to find the place without rushing. And in the event that you still find yourself with 20 or 30 extra minutes? Carry a book with you. Listen to an audiobook in your car. Go for a walk (as long as it’s not summertime in Phoenix). Meditate. Write out your goal list. Study the goal list you keep in your car for just such occasions. Use the restroom so you won’t have to interrupt the meeting later to get up. Consider those 20 or 30 minutes a gift.
And if you still have time to spare, check out this great Buzzfeed post, with 22 things people who are chronically early will totally understand.
Then give the host and/or event planner the gift of arriving on time.
Here’s to conquering Chronic Early Arrival Syndrome!
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
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