“If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you are late.”
This adage seems simple and based on common sense, but many people don’t follow the advice given their busy schedules, distractions, technology, failure to plan ahead, and other reasons. However, the virtue of clearing your schedule to ensure you are early is a great way to distinguish yourself.
As Andy Ellwood discusses in this Forbes piece,
I’ve fought hard to make sure that subways, cabs, and ‘really quick questions’ from co-workers haven’t keep me from being where I said I would be when I said I would be there. Being prompt shows respect for the busyness of others and gets meetings off to the right start. There is nothing worse than walking into a meeting apologizing.
This advice is especially true for your job interviews or any other first meeting with someone. If you arrive at the stated time or after, you are saying (without speaking) to the other person that other things are more important. Arriving early makes a clear statement that you care about the person you are meeting and value their time highly.
Don’t use excuses to justify your tardiness. There are very, very few valid excuses that prevent you from arriving early for a meeting or job interview. The only valid excuses have to do with items outside your control. However, even those can be mitigated by planning ahead and building extra time to arrive early. For example, build in extra time so you can still be early if stuck in traffic, or your bus or subway is delayed.
If you really make it a priority to be early, you will be early. The person with whom you are meeting will notice. Make it a pattern to be always on time, and you will distinguish yourself.
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