I would rather be an hour early than a minute late.
This statement has stuck with me ever since a middle school teacher mentioned it many years ago.
I have always interpreted this as respecting your own and the other person's time.
The other party that you are convening with deserves your respect just as you deserve theirs. Let's give the other party the benefit of the doubt that they will always be on time.
Now, let's make sure you hold up the other end of the bargain and show up on time. Imagine how you would feel if you had to delay your other obligations just because the other party violated the time agreement.
Quite cliche but treat others the way you want to be treated.
The least you can do is to arrive earlier than the agreed upon time to make sure that you are available at that specified time. While you cannot control whether the other party will do the same, you can take solace in the fact that you tried your best.
Remember, you are also respecting yourself by reducing your stress levels by removing the negative emotions of rushing to be on time!
Does this mean you have to get to the destination an hour early and sit around waiting for the other party to arrive?
You can choose an arrival time depending on the distance and other factors - just be sure to add a buffer for unexpected events.
Expect the unexpected.
While it does not make sense to try to plan out everything (you cannot), you can create systems that will automate some of your decisions. For instance, set a rule to always be ready for an event 15 minutes in advance.
"Wouldn't I paint myself in a negative light if I arrived too early?"
You can arrive at the location early but you do not have to go to the exact meeting place. For instance, you can stay in your vehicle or take a stroll.
"But David, I can spend that buffer time doing something else!"
Why don't you? Get there early and work on something that can be done at that location. It may not be the exact task you want to or can do at that moment but I am certain that there are other items that you can check off.
The idea of having a buffer is not limited to being ready for a meeting on time.
Imagine if you applied the idea of having a buffer to projects. The additional time allocated to a project allows for leeway in unforeseen circumstances. Even if no unexpected issues occur, you can use the additional time to over deliver!
How about having some extra time when going out for lunch every day? Make sure to account for the potential traffic and order line. If there are no delays, you can use the additional time to enjoy your break or return to work earlier.
I hope that I was able to convey the benefits of having a buffer system to you. You would be doing yourself and others a tremendous favor by being punctual. Show respect to others and yourself!
Remember that the additional time you "create" never has to go to waste. You can always be productive if you choose to be. The key to being productive is to not be like David. 🙂
What comes to mind when others are late to a meeting? Do you view meeting times or deadlines as set in stone or suggestions?