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Get Organized! “Get There Early”

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I would imagine your answer to each of the following questions would be, "yes." Would you like less stress in your life? Would you like for others to view you as a responsible person? Would you like to spend time the way you want to spend it instead of feeling you are always being pulled in some other direction?

If your answer to each of those questions was "yes," here is a piece of advice: get there early.

The Roots of Tardiness

Your meeting starts in 20 minutes and you are 15 minutes from your destination. If you leave now, you can make it! "Wow," you think, "I have 5 extra minutes. Let's see what else I can accomplish before I leave!" You have just created a recipe for disaster.

You envision yourself walking out the door with nobody stopping you for that "quick question" which never turns out to be quick. Every traffic light will be green. You will find a parking place squarely in front of the entrance to the building. … At least, that's the plan.

In practice, that plan rarely falls neatly into place. You walk in late … again. However, nobody is surprised, because you do it all the time. In fact, the way the group gauges whether or not everyone is there is whether or not you have arrived...because you are always the last one.

But, it's not your fault. If that person hadn't stopped you in the hall, you could have left earlier. If that car ahead of you had not been so slow, you would have made that traffic light. The closest parking place was two blocks away. Who would have imagined that? Certainly you can't be held responsible for that.

It's not my fault!

And that's one of the dirty lies we tell ourselves. Everyone around notices the habitual tardiness whether they say anything or not. As much as you laugh and say, "That's just the way I am," nobody else is laughing. 

Just leave earlier

That's all you have to do. Give yourself time to spare. You will encounter slow traffic, lights that all decide to turn red the moment you approach, and people who stop you in the hall on your way out the door. In the great ironies of life, the more time you allow for these delays, the less likely they are to raise their ugly heads.

Start the process earlier. Before you leave, arm yourself with something you can do to fill those spare minutes before the meeting begins. We all have trouble staying current on reading material. Grab some and take it with you. Handle the quick emails. Maybe take the opportunity to network with the other people who also got an early start and arrived ahead of time.

When I present to a group, my goal is to arrive an hour ahead of time. If the technology is uncooperative, I have time to do something about it. If everything goes like clockwork, I can relax and have fun in conversation with neat people.

Am I preaching to the choir?

If you are reading a column about organization and time management, the chances are this article doesn't describe you. Instead, the names and faces of those who should be reading it are dancing in your head. Now would be the perfect time to clip this article and send it to those who need to read it.

Frank Buck is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders. "Global Gurus Top 30" named him No. 1 in the Time Management category for 2019, 2020 and 2021. Dr. Buck speaks throughout the United States and internationally about organization and time management. You can reach him through his website: Follow him on Twitter @DrFrankBuck.