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6 Reasons Why it Makes Sense to Arrive Early

6 Reasons Why it Makes Sense to Arrive Early
Sunset

Why bother showing up early when you can blame any number of things for “making” you late? There’s traffic, a convenient ally when you need her. A distant cousin to traffic would be a freeway accident, which of course creates traffic. Then there’s the blatantly obvious excuse of sleeping through the alarm which causes you to get on the freeway late and immerse yourself in- you guessed it- traffic. All of these are convenient excuses for lateness but there’s a flip side- being early is way cooler.

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When you’re early you get the best seat. Just like when you get to church early or a movie theatre 10 minutes before the show begins, seat selection is the name of the game. If it’s a meeting, get some distance from whomever will be running the show. If it’s a presentation, get a spot that will not cause you to visit the chiropractor due to the way you had to twist your body to see the PowerPoint presentation. When you’re early, you get to choose the ideal location for optimal learning and interaction with your peers.

When you’re early you can prepare your gear. Ever see a person squirm to find their cell phone as it embarrassingly goes off during a meeting? If they had arrived early…you get the point. Arriving early affords you the chance to put your laptop in “go” mode and your cell phone in vibrate mode. Your paper and pen are just where you want them to be and you’re ready to roll.

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When you’re early you can hear the boss complain about the guy who is running late- at least he’s not complaining about you! I’ve been in many meetings where the boss looks to us and says, “Anyone know where Joe is? He does know that the meeting is right now, doesn’t he?”

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When you’re early you can look over the agenda. If your meeting planner didn’t mail you one in advance, arriving early lets you peruse what’s on the horizon and any mental notes that pop into your head can be written down as others are arriving. Sure, there’s an agenda prepared for you but arriving early lets you think about what you want to cover in the meeting.

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When you’re early you can fix your coffee. I like coffee with my creamer so arriving early lets me prepare things the way I want, rather than a bland cup of joe the way someone else wants. It’s a small thing but it saves you time in the long run. If you arrive late, you’ll want to get something to eat or drink but will feel guilty because you’ve already make a scene by being tardy. This will occupy about 5-10 minutes of your time and who wants to waste more time by worrying about something as small as caffeine?

When you’re early you are just plain cooler. Just like being organized, early folks have their ducks in a row and know what they’re about. They might be paranoid about being late or they might be neurotic about the clock, but let’s face it- early people gain a huge advantage because they are attentive to the smallest of things.

Mike St. Pierre is the host of The Daily Saint, a productivity blog focusing on work-life balance. www.thedailysaint.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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