Here are a few tips for the chronically early.
I know, normally you don’t hear that statement; mainly it’s the flip side of the coin that everyone gets hung up on. While the chronically late crowd get much more press, I know there must be many others with my affliction.
Please…I know you’re out there…please comment…I feel so alone.
I’m not good at small talk, nor do I network well.
My batteries recharge best when I’m alone, preferably staring at the computer.
I like schedules and deadlines.
I like to be in control, and know what to expect. Hence, I tend to over plan, and don’t like last minute changes.
Most of all, I don’t like to be embarrassed. It’s important that I’m in the right place, at the right time, with the right materials.
Why is this a problem?
Great question! I don’t think it’s really a problem, but more of a ‘cursed blessing.’ I think my internal clock is just a little skewed. Early is on time, and on time is late. It’s just the way I’m built.
For the most part, it’s a good thing. Owning the reputation of being the guy that’s always early actually garners a little respect in the workplace. Every little bit helps, you know?
As most reading this probably fall in the ‘normal’ range, or perhaps lean more to the late crowd, you may wonder what my world is like. So, let’s talk a bit about some specific situations:
The movie theater
I tend to arrive between 20-30 minutes early to claim my seat. Would it kill them to show a couple ‘Pink Panther’ cartoons like they used to at the drive-in?
In one of our theaters, they play ‘The 20,’ which is a series of shorts on upcoming TV shows and other types of media. Unfortunately, our other theater only shows the same ten stupid trivia slides over, and over and, over. Yes, I know that’s Burt Reynold’s mustache!
Attending a meeting
As painful as it is for me, I have to admit that the 20 minutes or so prior to the meeting is the best time to network. I’ve gotten more work done in this short time than during the entire two hour meeting.
However, if you’re presenting a briefing at said meeting, it’s important to arrive early enough to test the technology, and ensure your presentation runs smoothly. In an earlier post entitled, “Public Speaking Anxiety Therapy #3 – Reading the Room,” I went into some detail on how important it is for a speaker to know as much as they can about the speaking venue.
Attending a workshop
On the first day of a workshop, I always show up around 30 minutes early. This gives me extra time for parking and finding the room. More importantly, I have all the seats to choose from, so I can take my typical second row, outside chair.
Once claimed, it now belongs to me for the duration.
The job interview
Always be early to the interview location – always. If you’re heading to an unknown place, plan to arrive an hour early to ensure you’re not running to your appointment due to unforeseen problems. Then you’ll have plenty of time to drive or walk by the actual interview site.
Note that I didn’t say to arrive at the interview site (room, lobby, etc.) an hour early. Once you have the place scoped out, walk back to your car, a local café, or park bench and relax. Then show up at your interview no more than 10-15 minutes early.
Unless you’re instructed otherwise, showing up any earlier will just look odd. You’ll be in the way, and will no doubt annoy the very people you’re trying to impress.
This is where my natural tendency of being chronically early needs to be suppressed. Arriving a half hour early in this case will no doubt find the hosts frantically preparing, cleaning, and generally doing a lot of last minute logistics that they don’t want their guests to see.
It was interesting researching this for the article; mostly because there’s so much discussion out there on how early you should show up for a social event. Many insist that you arrive on time, or be ‘fashionably late,’ and show up 15 minutes to an hour past the invitation time.
You also can’t treat this like you do other events and sit in the car until the correct time arrives. Sitting in your host’s driveway or at their curb for a half hour will just look creepy. Once you find the house, spend the extra time by stopping by the grocery for a gift or bottle of wine.
Picking up a date
This one is somewhat out of my expertise, as I haven’t had a ‘date’ on over 30 years. However, if I remember correctly, you don’t want to be there too early, because her parents will rake you over the coals.
No doubt things change after you graduate high school.
So there you have it, a glimpse into the psyche of the chronically early. Hopefully those who are the late arrivals have gained a little insight, and my early brothers and sisters have learned they’re not alone.
Please take some time to comment on some of your own experiences, either early or late.