I hate being early. Whether that is to pick someone up from the airport or to arrive at a party, I do not enjoy the attention that being early brings or the time I feel it “wastes.” I also hate being late. Being late adds a serious amount of stress in the journey to my destination and greatly increases my chances of receiving a ticket for a traffic violation. It also makes me feel that I am imposing on my host and their guests and brings unwanted attention when I walk through the door.

What I love is being right on time. I challenge myself to reach my destination at the exact moment of the requested arrival. Unfortunately, this challenge is very difficult to achieve consistently. It usually results in either being slightly early or slightly late, which as I mentioned earlier, I do not enjoy. I have realized that I need to give up my quest of being right on time and make a choice: be early or be late.

King Louis VIII of France once said, “Punctuality is the politeness of kings.” I used to think that I was punctual, that punctuality meant being right on time. However, punctuality not only means being early, but it goes well beyond what time we arrive to a meeting or party. It reflects respect and courtesy on those who have requested our presence. It shows them that we value their time as much or more than we value our own.

In business, the simple idea of being punctual should not be hard for us to learn. In Fast Company magazine Stephanie Vozza lays out “4 Habits of Punctual People”:

  1. They’re Realistic Thinkers – They know how much time things take.
  2. They Give Themselves Buffer Time – They are usually early.
  3. They’re Organized – They have highly structured habits each day.
  4. They’re Comfortable with Downtime – They use this downtime productively.

Hopefully, through habit and organization, I will one day be able to say “I love being early.”