Being on time is an important part of my public profile. Whether as a corporate employee or an independent consultant, I have always believed there are a million ways to be early and yet, if you are late, you are late. Of the hundreds of meetings that I’ve attended as an independent consultant over the past seven years, you can count the number of times I have been late on one hand, regardless of where the meeting is being held.
When leaving for a scheduled appointment, there are a few assumptions that I make. The first is that I always want to arrive at my location at least 15 minutes early. This allows me time to park or check in with the security desk. I always bring other work to do in case I arrive more than 15 minutes before a scheduled appointment. Secondly, I always assume that some unexpected issue is waiting on the highway. After all, you are joining a traffic system where thousands of other people are making their way as well – who knows what can happen? Whether it is ongoing congestion, a person changing a flat tire on their car, or road work, there always seems to be some sort of situation encouraging a slowdown. Lastly, I take weather into account. Snow and rain complicate roadways and slow traffic down considerably.
To be on time, here are four things I take into consideration:
What is the time of day? – Traffic patterns can vary greatly by the time of day. When traveling on routes 128, 93 or 95, the clearest part of the day seems to be after 10:00am and before 2:00pm. Before and after these times is exposed to rush hour congestion. So, if I have an appointment before 10:00am or after 2:00pm, I always add at least 30 minutes on my travel schedule.
How far away is it? – The longer your trip, the greater the likelihood that a problem can arise. For locations greater than 30 minutes away, I always add 15 minutes on my travel schedule.
How familiar am I with where I am going? – How many times have you been sure you know where you are going, only to realize how lost you are once you are near? This seems to happen to me often. For first time location visits, I always add 15 minutes on my travel schedule in case I need to conduct a turnaround or stop and ask for directions. (Yes, I am a male and I do ask for directions!)
How’s the weather? – If it is snowing or raining out, I always add 15 minutes to my travel schedule.
For example, if I have a meeting in downtown Boston, at a new location, on a snowy day, and that starts at 9:00am, I always leave my house in Wakefield by 7:15am. (On a Sunday morning, this is about a 20 minute drive). This provides me an hour to navigate congestion during the rush hour on a snowy day, locate where I am going, and additional time to find parking and make it through a security check-in. If I arrive earlier than planned, I always have client work on which to focus. I can grab a cup of coffee and plan the rest of my workday. Most importantly, I can breathe easily that I am on time for my appointment.
Try this strategy – it works! Watch next week for my blog as we will explore ways in which you can raise your visibility and value in your organization and industry.