Give Yourself Some Time

by DavalosMcCormack on August 23, 2010

When George ‘Dubya” Bush was holding the first Cabinet meeting of his administration Secretary of State Colin Powell, one of the most highly respected members of his administration, was running a little late. The fact that Powell was a decorated war hero cut little slack with the President. When he saw that Powell was late for the announced start time of the meeting he told his assistants to not only close the door but to lock it.

A few minutes later Secretary Powell came hurrying down the corridor and turned the handle to open the door to the Cabinet room. Can you imagine how he felt when the door wouldn’t open. Instantly he must have thought “oh crap”. But also imagine how everyone in the room, with the exception of the President felt. It was a powerful demonstration of naked power, saying to everyone, “I start meetings on time. Be here.”

You can bet no Cabinet member was ever let for a meeting ever again.

Running late

I was thinking about that the other day as I headed, a few minutes later than I’d wanted, to a meeting at a location half the way across San Francisco. I knew where I had to be. I knew when I had to be there. I knew why I had to be there. I knew when I had to leave my office to get there. But that last bit was the problem.

I had so many things to do I kept saying “I’ll just take care of this before I go.” or “I’ll just answer this email before I leave” or “I’ll just return this phone call” . Whatever the reason, the end result is I left a couple of minutes later than I planned so of course all the way over there I was thinking, “gosh darn it, running late again” (ok, so those probably weren’t exactly the words I chose but they convey how I felt).

Enough stress already

Why do we do that to ourselves? Life and certainly work is already stressful enough without adding more stress to the mixture. We have more things to do than we have time for. We have more work than we can handle. Yet we add an extra dollop of stress by constantly running late.

You see it all the time. People rushing down corridors to get to a meeting that was supposed to start five minutes ago. People driving too fast because they didn’t manage to get out of the house as early as they had planned (and then of course they get frustrated at every driver in front of them who is not equally in a hurry)

Take the time to be on time

So why don’t we take some of the pressure off ourselves, some of the stress out of our lives, and just leave a few minutes early?

First of all, it’s just good manners. If someone expects you to be somewhere at a given time why wouldn’t you show up then? It’s just rude not to and your mother taught you better than that.

But secondly, why not just give yourself a little extra breathing room. Be on time. Better still, be early. Think of what you could do with a few extra minutes. You could take the time to chat to other people who are also early. You could catch up on reading the newspaper or that wonderful book you have or some really trashy but fun magazine article you have been dying to get into. You could call your mum. You could call your  husband/wife/partner/lover/sister/brother etc.

Or you could just take a few minutes and sit there quietly, thinking about what you want to say in the meeting, what you want to get out of it.

The end result is less stress on you, and more results from life.

Why would you want anything less for yourself.

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