I’m punctuality challenged, as I’ve blogged about in the past. This is not a desirable quality in a professional organizer. Or anybody, really. I always try to do too much before getting myself out the door to the appointment.
On Monday morning, when I called my friend, the super organizer Aby Garvey to say that I would be late meeting her for coffee, we talked about the fact that we both actively avoid being early. We agreed that it feels like a literal waste of time to get somewhere early.
Then I recalled a conversation I had about a year ago with another super organizer, Jill Revitsky. Jill shared with me that she gives herself the gift of being 15 minutes early to appointments. That way, she avoids stressing out if she runs into traffic or other delays. When she arrives early, she either relaxes or brings along work. “The gift of being early.” I love that phrasing.
Yesterday, my aversion to being early could have cost me my life (or, worse someone else’s). That sounds melodramatic, but it’s true. I was on my way to give a talk to an employee group and I was running late, as usual. I was so intent on getting downtown, finding the building and finding parking, that I was just in my own world. I was already five minutes late when I spied the parking garage. For some reason, I thought that the street I was turning left onto was a one-way street. I turned into the far left lane of a two-way street. (I was going to be turning left at the next light.)
So there I was, driving on the wrong side of the street, like I was in Australia or something. I was so in my own gotta-get-there zone, I didn’t even figure it out when cars started coming toward me and had to swerve around me. It wasn’t until one honked that I figured out I was in the wrong. Luckily, it was just one block and I got out of there without a collision. But it shook me up.
That experience has given me a new perspective on being early. I’m going to try being intentionally early to avoid the stress of running late. I’ll take along my Autofocus notebook so I always have something to work on while I wait. I’m going to view being early as a gift, rather than a waste of time.
I got to put this new philosophy to the test this morning. I had a 9 a.m. appointment for my annual mammogram and left the house with plenty of time to get there. Traffic was light and it looked like I was going to be 15 minutes early. Old habits kicked in and I started thinking about where I might stop in order to make good use of that time. Then I let go of that thinking. I decided to just get there early. And a great thing happened. Stress vanished. It felt so good not to be rushed. And it actually felt nice to be early. Maybe I can get used to this!