What does early look like to you? Fifteen minutes before start time? Right on time? Arriving before that person that’s always really late. Maybe that person that’s always really late is you.
A Psychology Today article points out the oft-overlooked reason why some people are chronically late: because they don’t want to be early. Ha, yes, sometimes it really is that simple. Now their reasoning behind not wanting to be early differs. For some, being early (and having to make small talk) makes them uncomfortable. Others find being early a waste of productivity. I get that. I like to maximize my time, and if I have three minutes before a meeting begins, I can respond to one more email or grab one more cup of coffee!
One of the action items I often coach leaders and teams on is starting and ending meetings on time. Always. Every time. Why? When we make a habit of starting meetings on time, we communicate their priority, and we respect the commitment of those who’ve made the effort to be on time. When we make a habit of ending meetings on time, we communicate the importance and sense of urgency needed to stay on task in the meeting time frame.
If your desire to not be early stems from not wanting to waste time, consider maximizing your time in other ways that still allow you to arrive at or start meetings on time:
- Use those extra few minutes. Michael Dell has said he likes to arrive early to meetings so he can gauge the mood of the room and have some informal interactions with teammates before the meeting starts.
- Respond to that email on your phone after you’ve arrived on time but before the meeting begins.
- Spend a few minutes refreshing yourself on the purpose of the meeting and what you hope to accomplish.
- Enjoy the few quiet minutes of waiting. Really, how often do we get to enjoy a few moments without email, phone calls, texts, deadlines, roadblocks, traffic, and so on? Arriving early to your meeting won’t eliminate all the pressures and demands, but it may give you time to take a few deep breaths and enjoy a bit of silence before moving on to the next one.