It seems absurd. It goes against your mother’s advice. If you want to get ahead you’ve got to get in early. I mean, what about the early bird catching the worm?
But who really wants a worm?
Like many pearls of traditional advice, this one requires further examination. And as a person who hates to be kept waiting, hates showing up too early and is pro-fashionable lateness, I have made observations over the years that has solidified my premise that it is better to be on time or err on the side of lateness than to be always early.
Here are 6 reasons why:
1. You are telling people that your time isn’t valuable.
Think about it. If you are chronically early and waiting—waiting on your blackberry for your boss, waiting at the restaurant for a lunch date, waiting on your friend’s couch while she rushes to finish getting ready—then what are people eventually going to think? Miss Early Bird must not have jack crap going on in her life. Meanwhile, that person is busy so they are automatically going to deduce that their time is more valuable than yours—since you have so dang much that you’ve made a hobby of cooling your heels.
2. It isn’t productive.
My friends know how much I loathe wasting time. And if you ask why then you are subjecting yourself to my impassioned soapbox speech about how time is truly the only non-renewable resource, how we could die at any moment and that every time you waste a minute a terrorist gets its wings.
And why is that? Because I am trying to balance all the busy-work life throws at me (laundry, dishes, oil change) with the real productive work I’d rather be doing, such as writing and building my e-book business. So, I NEED to be productive, and you probably do too if you are reading this blog.
Therefore, in order to be at your peak productivity, you need to stop showing up 15 minutes early to everything because if you’re doing it chronically, then you are literally wasting hours and hours a week.
Think of all you can do with that time.
3. You set yourself up to ALWAYS be waiting.
Most of us schedule our lives with a very small buffer in between tasks, and by small I’m talking about a 5 minute window. Between work meetings, emails and those lasts minute phone calls (not to mention the traffic around that fender bender on 12th street), we are lucky to get anywhere on time. Therefore, people need that 5 minute buffer. In writing this blog I went back through my text messages from times when I was meeting up with my group of girlfriends. What did I find? A lot of Running behind! Be there in ten. Traffic is awful. Start without me! Followed by responses like: No worries. The hostess hasn’t even seated us.
Everyone is running late. The world is running late.
Need proof? Think of your doctor’s office, dentist’s, optometrist’s, canine spiritual consultant’s. What do they all have? Waiting Rooms! Think about what you do at restaurants, Starbucks, subway stations. You wait! Don’t voluntarily exacerbate the problem.
People, all people, from your boss to your bartender, are rushing to catch up. You can’t change their circumstance. You can’t change traffic. You can’t change them. You can only change yourself.
4. It kills your energy.
I’m sure it’s happened to everyone. For whatever reason, you arrive at a party, sporting event, or movie premiere way too early. You’re really jazzed about the evening that lays before you. Momentum is building. When is everyone going to show? What time is it now? And now? That’s when the climax begins to rise and whatever you’re waiting on gets pushed to pedestal heights.
When the big moment finally comes and it’s kickoff time, you are elated. About *%$# time! You think. However what inadvertently happens next? All that energy can’t be sustained and it starts to dissipate. Consequently, by halftime, you are tired. By third quarter, you are ready to call it a day. The event becomes anti-climatic and it zaps your energy.
5. Your colleagues won’t like you.
Nobody likes a boss’ pet. Think about how you are portraying yourself when you are incessantly early. You’ve unwittingly made it into a competition. A competition you make damn sure you’re going to win. You’re like that kid on the playground that calls for a race and then before anyone can blink shouts “Go!” to get a head start. No one wants to play with that kid. And your colleagues are the ones you spend over 40 hours a week with (not to mention happy hours and Christmas parties), so you need to get along with these people.
6. It bothers your friends.
So, if your friend shows up to lunch on time and finds out you’ve been sipping soda for 15 minutes, it makes him feel rushed, guilty and probably a bit irritated.
People hate showing up on time and already feeling late. ESPECIALLY in social situations that are supposed to be light and enjoyable.
Really, being chronically early is a passive aggressive form of rudeness. How? If you keep purposely showing up early over and over again the other person begins to feel like you are trying to lead by example and send them a message: Hurry your rear up and get here sooner. Your friends do not want to be herded.
And now an argument from the other side.
Yeah but being early is better than being late all the time.
Maybe. But not in my experience. Especially when you keep it within a 5 minute window and apply a little common sense. Being on time/5 minutes “late” (And even 5 minutes early. There, I said it.) to coffee is fine. You can wait, your friend will wait, however your bus driver will not.
It’s also a good rule of thumb that in anything work related, your best bet is to be right on time. However, I can guaran-dang-tee you that in most instances, the big boss will cruise in late.
And to be 100% honest, I am a person who has always, always, always shown up places a little late (excluding the common sense exceptions mentioned above), and I cannot think of a single time in my life that I have had the experience of, Oh no, I really regret not showing up on the dot. Ever. But I can think of many times I’ve been left waiting in the cold for someone/something with nothing to warm myself except the growing fire of my fury.
Therefore, I believe we can all benefit from erring on the side of fashionable lateness.
After all, it’s like the saying goes: Haters gonna hate. Waiters gonna wait.