The painful truth of the matter is this: if you’re not 5 minutes early, you’re late.
When Ben said that to me the first time, I think I actually got mad at him…like he was trying to take me down and make me feel irrationally insufficient for some reason. But, this has become one of our family mottos to live by. And, trust me, we call each other out on it more often than any of us can really stand.
Here’s the thing: for starters, at 5 minutes before the time you’re supposed to meet someone or be somewhere the people that are expecting you start wondering if you’re going to get there on time or if they’re going to have wait around for you. When you’re 5 minutes early, you eliminate that element of uncertainty and concern about needing a backup plan or figuring out how to scramble last minute to shift things around.
On top of that, when you’re supposed to be somewhere at a certain time, that time is actually “go time”, not “now get ready for go time”. When you get to a doctor appointment, there’s still some sort of check in process. When you get to a meeting, there’s a settle in and get focused time that only improves your ability to contribute to a conversation. And, when you are taking the 8:30am class at CrossFit, there is a tremendous amount of value in the 5 minutes of socializing time that happens before the class actually starts.
When you arrive right at “go time”, you either miss out on all of that or you start cutting into the time that your appointment is actually supposed to be able to start.
I know what you’re thinking: but other people are always late, too, so why bother being on time if they’re not. Again, the painful truth around that topic is that (a) this is a perfect opportunity to take the high road, set a good example, and live a life of consistent good habits, and (b) if you do ultimately end up having time to kill because someone else is late, I consider that bonus time that you’ve now found in your day. You can now catch up on email and texts, plan even more thoroughly for your presentation in that meeting, write a thank you card you’ve been meaning to get to, or chip away at your to-do list that you have on Notes in your phone.
The point is that if the plan is to be there to pick up a friend at 6pm, on time is 5:55. Getting there at 6pm means you’re 5 minutes late.