I don’t mean whether you’re perpetually late for things. If you’re anything like me you aim to be a couple of minutes early, allowing for slight delays or traffic. But what would happen if we were always 5 minutes early?
Take one example, a man who is always early. He seems to be very energetic, ready for the meeting, appointment, party or event – even if the chair or host may not be! He considers it rude to be even seconds late and would feel out of sync if he was.
There’s a sense of moral superiority that comes from being early. But it’s different from the arrogant power play when a superior senior member of staff habitually graces us with their presence later than the advertised start time; we’re talking superior confidence, knowing that we’re organised and prepared enough to be able to take it all in.
What’s life like generally?
Perhaps it’s rushed, stressful, with a too-frequent sense of urgency, seemingly out of order even when preparations have been duly made? The mind can feel overwhelmed even when we’ve been duly diligent.
Something happens when we’re just 5 minutes’ early
And not just allowing 5 minutes’ extra in case of traffic or interruptions on the way to the lift –that’s just good planning. It only takes one person to say “Can I just ask you..?” or to miss the (allegedly unmissable!!) big white flags outside the meeting venue and 7 minutes easily whizzes by.
We’re talking an ADDITIONAL 5 minutes. For ourselves.
That may mean clawing back 30 minutes if there are 6 meetings in a day, but just by making such allowance in our schedules can have a compounded impact from multiple effects:
We may adopt a more confident and calm demeanour
Extra minutes allow us to refresh – e.g. grabbing a needed drink
There’s a gap for head-clearing, moving from the last attention-taking topic to the next
In the vacant time, our subconscious conjures up ideas and solutionsrelated to the last, next or another random situation – or makes important linkages between differing factors
We register actions and memories from our previous moments, logging them safely before the next onslaught of information
We take in and adjust to the surroundings, becoming more comfortable or simply aware
A graceful start makes a better impression – better than a ‘hectic’ someone galloping in sweaty-palmed to shake a hand, throw belongings down and start an almost-convulsive conversation
Being 3 minutes early for a meeting when my colleague was only a couple of minutes late, I checked Twitter, sent a couple of messages and recapped on what’s been happening since our last meeting. I was ready, clear-minded for our conversation and consequently more attentive.
Beating the rush
Many of us don’t take lunch, don’t move from our screens (or just switch from a big one to a little phone one) and don’t allow ourselves to ‘come up for air’ throughout a working day. As we pile up the layers (like a mega-burger but with information, data and messages to input) we don’t know where to start or we don’t get to plan our attack.
It may sound so simple. It may sound obvious. But many of us still rush. Why?
Just in case there’s an element of “Why would I waste 30 minutes a day?” then there are always back up things to do – just like being in dentist’s waiting room – social media for news or networking, web research for new job opportunities or career events, catching up on email if we have to or just sorting out our contacts or storage in our smartphones. Dull tasks, perhaps, but all stress-saving for a later moment.
Again, so obvious. So advantageous. So simple. So why don’t we make ‘being on time’ more about us?
Or if you do and you’ve discovered benefits (or another angle) not mentioned above, please share in the comments. Thank you.