Imagine the following scenario:
You’re on your way to an important meeting. You’ve left yourself just enough time to get there, but due to traffic or a delayed train, you’re now running late. After a close call and some hurrying, you just barely make the meeting, only to arrive in a breathless stupor and spend the first several minutes collecting your thoughts and organizing the materials you brought. The rest of the attendees sit quietly around the table, pausing the conversation and patiently waiting for you to settle in, as the clock ticks loudly in the background. All eyes are on you.
Do you feel anxious yet? Nobody likes the feeling of running late—and yet, many of us wind up rushing to our next commitment more frequently than we should. Arriving early, whether it be to a meeting, an interview, or even just a lunch date, is one of those rules that’s become so canonical it’s often overlooked; however, once broken, it’s a rule that can make you stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.
Arriving early has many advantages. Not only will you be setting a great example and displaying your commitment by showing up before you’re expected, you’ll be reminding the person or organization you’re meeting with that you respect their time. It gives you the opportunity to collect your thoughts and materials and prepare yourself for what lies ahead. And, perhaps most importantly, it keeps you in a positive mindset to tackle the rest of the day.
Of course, this is an often-touted tip for job seekers who have been called in for interviews, but punctuality shouldn’t end with the concluding handshake. Extend your time management skills to the everyday—meetings, networking events, getting to work every morning, or even waking up on time to tackle your job search! Studies have shown that taking such a professional approach to even home-based tasks, such as applying to online job postings, can put you in the right mindset for success.
To make sure you give yourself this advantage, check for any possible problems on your commute ahead of time. If there are no foreseeable issues, give yourself 15 minutes extra as a rule of thumb. Remember, even if there don’t seem to be any transportation- or weather-related delays between you and your destination, there are always unexpected factors to consider. Protocols such as security clearance and filling out paperwork can make you late even if you’ve arrived on time, and even simply navigating an unfamiliar building can slow you down.
Need more motivation to get up and out early? According to a study by The Economic Times, 34%—over a third of employers surveyed—said they have terminated employees for chronic lateness in the past. Just as there are numerous positives to arriving early, there are several downsides to being late—including missing out on a job opportunity or being let go from your current one. Likewise, if you’re giving a presentation, you may very well lose your audience if you don’t respect their time.