You know who I am talking about. She’s never on time. He always needs another 5 minutes. You are picturing that person right now.

What if she had not just an extra 5 minutes, but an entire extra hour in the day? We left Daylight Saving Time three months ago. That next day was as close as we’re going to come to that extra hour. Normally get up at 7:00? That day, it was only 6:00. Normally get up at 6:00? That day, it was only 5:00. I got an extra hour. You got an extra hour. We all got an extra hour…including your friend who is always late.

Think about the person who normally shows up 5 minutes late for work. With an extra hour, he would have no trouble being on time today. Right?

Nope…5 minutes late…again.

Late Again

Think about the co-worker or student who never can seem to get to work or school on time. Will he or she be on time following the time change and gift of that extra hour in the morning? Don’t count on it. The one who rolls in at 8:05 when 8:00 is late will most likely roll in at 8:05 after the time change as well. Should you change “late time” to 8:05, watch Miss Precious roll in at 8:10. You could delay the start of school or the workday until 1:00 PM and watch who comes in the door at 1:05.

Each spring, we all “spring forward” an hour when Daylight Saving Time begins. What happened last spring? Mr. Five-Minutes-Late-Every-Day didn’t show up an hour and five minutes late. Nope…5 minutes late…again. Somehow, he could adjust his schedule a full hour overnight. You would think he could take care of that last 5 minutes. Not a chance.

Miss They-Grabbed-Me-Just-As-I-Was-Walking-Out-The-Door will be late for tomorrow’s meeting and by the same amount of time as usual. You guessed it…somebody grabbed her just as she was walking out the door.

How Do You Fix It?

Just ask the person who is rarely, if ever, late. Yes, people ask for a piece of his time just as he is walking out the door. Therefore, he starts walking out the door well ahead of time. Yes, she gets stopped by the train, or traffic lights, or slow traffic, or whatever. So, she leaves with enough time to spare to allow time for trains, red lights, traffic, and whatever.

Instead of assuming all of the lights will be green, plan for some delays. In this case, a little pessimism is a good thing.

What Do You Gain?

When you arrive early, what do you gain? This list of three is just for starters:

  • You get face-time with the “boss.” The first students to arrive get the one-on-one conversations with the teacher. The kid who is perpetually tardy never gets that opportunity. The teacher who is early to school gets to chat with the principal while things are quiet. You don’t need to make an “appointment” to get the time and attention of the one in charge. You are there. The boss is there. You are both waiting for everyone else to show up. Seize the opportunity.
  • You avoid the stress. How many times have you sat nervously at a stop light and talked to the light, as if saying “Change, change, change” is going to do any good? How many times have you pressed the elevator button multiple times, as if the elevator is going to sense your emergency and give you preferential treatment?  Delays will happen. When you factor in additional time for them, the delay becomes a non-issue.
  • You communicate a message. German poet and philosopher Johann Schiller said, “Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly ever acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.” Showing up on time is one of those simple things. Get that one wrong, and people assume you can’t be trusted with much else.

How Do You Use the Extra Time?

The chronically tardy often leave for their destinations late because they are trying to do “one more thing” and use every second of their time efficiently. The one who is always early knows a secret. Bring something to do. We all have the material we were going to read anyway, the thank-you note we were going to write anyway, or the email we were going to handle anyway.

Get there early. If you have time on your hands, you have brought predefined work to fill that time. You had no trouble finding a parking spot…because you were early. You get the seat of your choosing… because you were early. And, you get your pick of the doughnuts, because…you guessed it…you were early.

If this post describes someone you know, most definitely share it. Print it out and leave it on their desk. You’ve got time. They’ll be late anyway.

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