It’s that time of year again. You likely noticed it Sunday morning when a few cars pulled into the parking lot just as the congregation was exiting. Before going to bed on Saturday, we recite the saying from our childhood: “Spring ahead. Fall back.” Then we groan as the reality sinks in. We’re about to lose an hour of sleep.
By the time Sunday is over, we have all managed to adjust our clocks, perhaps even adjust our attitudes, and are ready to attack the workweek.
If your organization is like most, you have at least one person for whom the timeclock doesn’t seem to apply. She’s never on time. He always needs another 5 minutes. Got a picture of someone in your mind?
Late, but not by an hour …
If he can’t make it on time before, what’s he going to do now? Every day, he’s racing into the parking lot on two wheels exactly 5 minutes late. If he can’t adjust his schedule 5 minutes to get to work on time, what’s he going to do now? Will he be late by an hour and 5 minutes?
Nope, on Monday, the chronically late friend was the usual 5 minutes late. Miraculously, adjusting both the clock and the morning routine by an hour happens overnight. You would think that last 5 minutes would be a cinch. Not a chance.
Miss They-Grabbed-Me-Just-As-I-Was-Walking-Out-The-Door was late to Monday morning’s meeting by the same 5 minutes as usual. You guessed it … somebody grabbed her just as she was walking out the door. Mr. I-Got-Caught-By-The-Train will get caught by the train yet again.
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 allow time for trains, red lights, traffic, and whatever.
Instead of assuming all the lights will be green, plan for some delays. In this case, a little pessimism is a good thing. If all goes well, and she gets there early, she always has reading material or other tasks to fill the spare minutes.
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 that the kid who’s tardy never gets. The teacher who’s early to school gets to chat with the principal while things are quiet.
• You avoid the stress. How many times have you sat nervously at a stop light chanting “Change, change, change” as if it’s going to do some 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, but 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.
Get there early. You have no trouble finding a parking spot. You get the seat of your choosing at the meeting. And, you get your pick of the doughnuts.
Who do you know that needs to read this article? Why not clip it and lay it on his/her desk. You’ve got time.
After all, they’re going to be late.
Frank Buck is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders. He speaks throughout the United States and into Canada on organization and time management. You can reach Dr. Buck through his website: FrankBuck.org.