Young Money: Avoiding the tardy party
blog by Caitlin Campbell McNulty • January 30, 2013 @ 2:23am
I have a confession to make. The clock and I do not get along. In fact, there’s a joke in my family that we all run on “Campbell Time.” If you want us somewhere at 5 p.m., better tell me to be there at 4:30.
Unfortunately, what’s a funny quirk in the family isn’t quite as appropriate in the professional world. Are you the type to leave the office for a meeting with exactly the amount of time needed to get there, assuming you hit every all green light and there just happens to be no traffic? I’ll guiltily raise my hand to that one.
It’s not that I’m incapable of being on time (just ask my husband about Sunday mornings and church)— it’s that when it comes to meetings or events, I don’t want to be the first one there. I don’t want to be the last one, either, but a nice healthy middle-arrival is perfect. Unfortunately, that’s hard to do when there are only two of you meeting.
Being early for special events always pays off. The luncheons and dinners I manage are well-attended with a lot of high-level business people. There’s no point in arriving minutes before the program starts and lunch is served. Sure, you’ll meet and network with those seated at your table, but you’ll have also missed out on the entire room full of people who might have been able to connect with if you had been 15 minutes earlier.
A former boss was famous for telling our staff that “if you’re early, you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late.” And you know what? When it comes to a work environment, he’s absolutely right. Here are a few tips to help you beat the clock and arrive fashionably early:
• Set your clock ahead. It doesn’t have to be by much—even five minutes makes a big difference. My bedroom clock is eight minutes fast. I panic that I’m late every morning and breathe a huge sigh of relief when I get into the car and see that I’m actually right on time.
• Set a reminder on your calendar. You know that meeting reminder that goes off in Outlook 15 minutes before an appointment? Start paying attention to it! When you schedule an appointment, set the reminder to go off five minutes before you need to leave the office. This way, whether you need to be down the hall or across town, you’ll have already blocked the right amount of time needed to get there.
• Make appointments for the right time of day. Do you schedule early morning meetings knowing that you’re a habitual snooze user? Are afternoons a waste as far as productivity goes (I won’t tell). Then don’t schedule anything important at those times. You already know that it’s difficult for you to wake up on time and get going after a full lunch, so why would you want to meet with someone when you know you’re not at your best?
• Loop appointments together. I used to schedule things for my boss spread far apart so that she could “get work done” in between. Guess what—it doesn’t happen. I’ve found it’s much easier to spend a whole day going from meeting to meeting than it is to have an hour to waste in between. No one actually accomplishes anything during this time—you’re busy decompressing from the last meeting and gearing up for the next. Pick a day or two of the week and make all your appointments then. The other few days can be spent strictly working and you won’t have to worry about forgetting to pay attention to the time.
Remember Campbell Time? Well, there’s one important aspect of that I forgot to tell you about. Campbell Time does not apply to the professional world in my family. My father will beat you to any meeting or luncheon, just to prove he can. I think it’s time for me to start living up to the 9-to-5 side of the family tradition, and if I take my own advice, I just might make it work.
Photo by nate steiner / Flickr.