Why bother showing up early when you can blame any number of things for “making” you late? There’s traffic, a convenient ally when you need her. A distant cousin to traffic would be a freeway accident, which of course creates traffic. Then there’s the blatantly obvious excuse of sleeping through the alarm which causes you to get on the freeway late and immerse yourself in — you guessed it — traffic. All of these are convenient excuses for lateness but there’s a flip side: being early is way cooler.
When you’re early, you get the best seat. Just like when you get to church early or a movie theatre 10 minutes before the show begins, seat selection is the name of the game. If it’s a meeting, get some distance from whomever will be running the show. If it’s a presentation, get a spot that will not cause you to visit the chiropractor due to the way you had to twist your body to see the PowerPoint presentation. When you’re early, you get to choose the ideal location for optimal learning and interaction with your peers.
When you’re early, you can prepare your gear. Ever see a person squirm to find their cell phone as it embarrassingly goes off during a meeting? If they had arrived early… you get the point. Arriving early affords you the chance to put your laptop in “go” mode and your cell phone in vibrate mode. Your paper and pen are just where you want them to be and you’re ready to roll.
When you’re early, you can hear the boss complain about the guy who is running late- at least he’s not complaining about you! I’ve been in many meetings where the boss looks to us and says, “Anyone know where Joe is? He does know that the meeting is right now, doesn’t he?”
When you’re early, you can look over the agenda. If your meeting planner didn’t mail you one in advance, arriving early lets you peruse what’s on the horizon and any mental notes that pop into your head can be written down as others are arriving. Sure, there’s an agenda prepared for you, but arriving early lets you think about what you want to cover in the meeting.
When you’re early, you can fix your coffee. I like coffee with my creamer so arriving early lets me prepare things the way I want, rather than a bland cup of joe the way someone else wants. It’s a small thing but it saves you time in the long run. If you arrive late, you’ll want to get something to eat or drink but will feel guilty because you’ve already make a scene by being tardy. This will occupy about 5-10 minutes of your time and who wants to waste more time by worrying about something as small as caffeine?
When you’re early, you are just plain cooler. Just like organized people, early folks have their ducks in a row and know what they’re about. They might be paranoid about being late or they might be neurotic about the clock, but let’s face it — early people gain a huge advantage because they are attentive to the smallest of things.
Mike St. Pierre is the host of The Daily Saint, a productivity blog focusing on work-life balance. www.thedailysaint.com.