The old saying ”Better late than never” works well for many situations, but it doesn’t work well when trying to make a good first impression; when you need to be first to market; or if you want others to believe you respect them. Being late is at the least bad planning, at some level bad manners, and at worst it means you don’t pay attention to others’ time, schedules and priorities.

 

Sometimes Late, Missed Opportunities

 

If you have ever missed a connecting flight in an airport by seconds, only to be told “sorry the door is shut and we can’t reopen it,” then you know about missed opportunities that can have significant impact on your schedules and that just keep on flowing through your day. You miss the flight, so you miss the key meeting with an important customer to close a deal, or you missed an important family event like the birth of your first child … all by seconds.

 

You arrive consistently late to business events, meetings and conferences. What’s a few minutes right? You may be missing a chance to chat and connect with key people, you may be missing key information, or you may be missing the boat entirely because you are signaling to those you were suppose to meet at 1:00 pm that you felt they could be kept waiting. Think about it: if you keep a room full of 20 people waiting 15 minutes, you’ve wasted four hours of productive work time.

 

Early and Ready

 

I confess to being perpetually early. I was brought up to arrive at least 15 minutes before any scheduled appointment. This meant allowing time for traffic and other unexpected things to happen en route. What this has translated to is often having 15 minutes of extra time before meetings to prepare, to meet with others also early for meetings or to get other things done. Being a technology collector, I have lots of gadgets that allow me to work in those little 15-minute blocks of time. I’ve learned to use them well. For instance, I can write or review an article like this one. I can review a report, respond to emails, pick up messages, develop priority lists, brainstorm solutions of customer projects or any number of things. In a single day, if I am lucky, arriving 15 minutes early carves out as much as one hour of productive, undisrupted work time that doesn’t have other demands or the “I should be doing something else” thoughts attached to it.

 

Arrive early often and get more done. I’ve found that arriving early enables me to be more productive. That is counterintuitive to people who say they arrive late because they are doing so much. Ask the people who know me about how much I get done and how often I’m early. Counterintuitive it may be, but like “common” sense, the ability to get things done is not as common as you would expect. So if you are habitually tardy, then maybe it is time to kick the habit and see what happens when you arrive, if not early, at least on time.

 

©2009 F.O.C.U.S. Resource Inc. by Lea A. Strickland

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