1. Issue “Don’t be on time, be early”
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Don’t be on time, be early

“My greatest strength? Probably that I am always early” chuckled President Barack Obama a video clip urging people to vote early. “Whether I’m headed to a meeting or about to give a big speech, I like to know I’m running early.”

His staffers concurred:
“He’s early to everything.”
“I get to our 6.00 a.m. meeting at 5.45. He’s already there.”

I pride myself on being on time most of the time (at least more than most). But my version of “on time” is to get to my destination on the dot – I am not on time, I am usually “just in time.” Often with lots of praying and deep breathing, I arrive on the stroke of meeting time, somehow managing to look composed and confident.

But President Obama got me thinking – I mean, if the President of the United States can always be early, then what would it take for me to be 15 minutes early to everything?

There are times when I have deliberately arrived early for a meeting. I was calm, cool ad collected, I felt relaxed and prepared, and I looked very competent and professional to those who arrived after me. I must also confess to a tad of smugness viewing their surprise that someone was here before them. What did I do then that made me arrive early, and in a state of ease, grace and joy? There’s the usual stuff: I prepared – packed my bag and chose my outfit the night before, got up early, left my house on time, did not over schedule the day, and so on. Those are the things we know we are supposed to do, and IF we do them, we should be early, or at the very least, on time. But I also have some tricks (can’t call them habits yet, as I don’t consistently practice them) that work for me:

  1. Schedule transfer time – when scheduling appointments, allow extra time for moving. Coming from a manufacturing background, and with experience with time and motion studies, I am very aware of how not including, or miscalculating transfer time (i.e. the time in between processes) can throw total processing time out of whack. Same with getting somewhere early – I have to factor in walking to the subway, buying tickets, going down the escalator and then, if I have to transfer to another train, time to move from one to another. Plus, walking time from arrival at the destination up the elevator, to the receptionist and to the actual meeting room! It all adds up, and so you have to budget for it.
  2. Add 15 minutes to the estimated time. Why? Because stuff happens! A tip I learned from my sister is never schedule to leave on the quarter hour. Inevitably, you will leave on the hour or half-hour, as if your brain can’t schedule 15-minute intervals. Time has proven her right.
  3. Keep a stash of articles and magazines to read. When you are heading out, simply take one or two with you to read as you wait. This way, you don’t view waiting time as wasted time, and are more likely to stick to it.

There is one other big thing I have learned that helps me to be early – saying “NO” to requests that will interrupt my schedule. For example, no squeezing in a phone call with someone 5 minutes before I am to head out the door, or trying to fit just one more appointment or meeting into the day. Say “NO” and schedule at another time. Most things can wait. There are very few real emergencies.

President Obama continued: “My commitment to being early isn’t just good for me, it’s good for the nation … When you’re early, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.”

If you like this article, please feel free to share with your friends and colleagues. And if you haven’t yet done so, subscribe to my fortnightly blog.

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Just for one day:

  1. Today, right now, look at your calendar and identify one day within the next week in which you commit to being 15 minutes early for EVERYTHING.
  2. Reconfigure your appointments to make sure that you are EARLY for every meeting. Decide which appointments are really important. Reschedule those that aren’t, or have a phone call instead.
  3. For what’s left, make sure to factor in transfer time and budget extra 15 minutes for your departure time.
  4. Find 3 articles you have been meaning to read. Print them, or download on your phone or Ipad.
  5. Breathe – you can do it!
  6. Make sure to drop me a note to let me know how it worked for you!

What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe you won’t be early … but you will probably be just in time.

And here are some other similar blogs by Marguerite:

Make Peace With Timeclick HERE to view article
Do One Thing At A Timeclick HERE to view article


My most recent blog posts:

What’s “like” got to do with it?click HERE for post.