Late or Early?

The topic of my latest newsletter was about arriving on time for meetings.

I'm sure most people endeavour to arrive on time - after all we're business professionals and it wouldn't do to turn up late and keep clients or prospective customers waiting but there's so much that can go wrong and things being what they are, it will. I've been ultra-conscious having just written about not being late - it wouldn't do for me to turn up late now would it! So much so that I've been arriving ridiculously early - I'd feel so bad if I did arrive late.

How often have you arrived just in the nick of time? You make it but just by the skin of your teeth, stressed and flustered having negotiated yet another traffic jam on the M25 or every traffic light being against you, slow traffic (especially caravans and tractors) on single lane roads, roadworks and detours.

Plan to arrive early - not just in the nick of time. Planning is good and essential to using your time effectively but when you plan things too closely you don't leave any slack time for when something unexpected comes up. Knowing a route well, gives you a better chance of estimating travel time but also makes it easier to leave things to the last minute, then when you discover they're digging up the road again and the traffic is backed up all along the coast road and you're going to be late. Fortunately, I can walk fast or know a short-cut or am lucky to find a parking space quickly but my 20 minute journey can easily become 40 minutes or longer with road works and traffic thrown into the mix.

- Aim to arrive at least 10 minutes early or 30 minutes if it's a longer journey.
- Get things ready before you leave - don't rush out of the door, grabbing things as you go.
- Leave extra time to allow for delays.
- Catch an earlier bus or train.
- Allow time for parking.
- Phone ahead if you know you're going to be delayed or late.

Better to arrive early rather than late and if you are early - it's not wasted time. Take a book, newspaper or your laptop with you so you can do some work while you wait. I managed to read a whole book on my recent journey up to London. I left plenty of time to get to the station - as I said, I've been so conscious about arriving early that I was there about 30 minutes before the train was due to leave. I had an hour to read on the train and while I sat waiting for my meeting and although it was a packed late train back home - I'd all but finished the book by the time I got back to Brighton.

If you expect other people to turn up on time for you - make sure you turn up on time for them. Have as much respect for someone else's time as you would expect them to have for yours.
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