Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Reflections on Punctuality

I like to be early to my social gatherings, appointments and work. I just have less stress that way. I also show respect for the time of others by being early.

Even if I am just going to a movie, I like to be early. I have found that being early to the theater allows me to get the most comfortable seat for me. Being early in general affords me many other benefits that I'd like to share with you.

I've been early since I was a kid. I was one of the "Early Birds" in first grade. I enjoyed arriving before everyone else. The journey is more peaceful, the arrival is quiet and relaxed. Relaxed. Yes, I liked to be early when I was young.

As I grew older, I discovered that getting to places early means less stress. If I'm walking to my destination, leaving early made the trip so much better. I could enjoy the sights as I walked. I could think and sort of meditate on the way to school, even though I didn't know what meditation was at the time. I found time to reflect and prepare for the day ahead in school.

Eventually, I got the idea that I could ride my bike to school. Leaving early with a bike meant getting there early was a breeze. I honestly don't know exactly how I managed to get through school, but I did it, on time.

As a young adult, I got a car and found that just because I had a car doesn't mean I won't be late. So I made sure that I got started on my journeys early. Even if I got to my destination 15-30 minutes early to avoid traffic, that was OK. I could relax and listen to music until it was time to start work. There is a certain peace of mind that I enjoy while waiting for work to start if there is time to spare upon my arrival.

One of the benefits of arriving early is having much less stress on the way. I'm not worried about accidents on the way. I'm not worried about traffic jams because I have plenty of time. For appointments to unfamiliar locations, I give myself time to get lost. With more time, I can recover easily from a missed turn without stress.

I can recall my past experience of leaving late and feeling the stress as I'm driving. I've seen horrific accidents through my time at the wheel - as an observer - and know well the perils of driving while in a hurry. In a hurry, I will miss important details. I'll forget what I should have brought with me. Some of those details may concern safety of myself and others. Driving to an appointment when I know I'm going to be late narrows my vision, shortens my attention span. I don't like to be late.

When I leave early, no matter what the journey is for, I enjoy the music, sights, or conversation as the case maybe. I'm more alert for danger on the road, too. I take time to read the traffic and notice what others are doing.

When I arrive early, I have some quiet time to get acclimated. I have time to plan my entrance and to choose my seating before all others do. I get the best seat for me to see and hear what transpires in the meeting. I read agendas, talk with the others, or prepare my thoughts for an important one on one meeting. I have time to use the restroom and compose myself.

When I'm early, I avoid the scrutiny and attention of everyone else. I see the people who arrive late to an important meeting. They get attention I don't want to get. If I'm going to get attention, I'd rather do so as a participant than as a late arrival.

Being early is how I demonstrate care and concern for the time of others. Whether they be family, friends, clients or employers. It's all the same. There is only so much time we have to work with and all of it is valuable. My punctuality is how I acknowledge the value of time for all concerned.
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