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“Sorry, I’m running late”. Sometimes it’s understandable. But I don’t like saying it, and sometimes I don’t like hearing it. There is a meme floating around, like the one below, something along the lines of, “sorry I’m late, I didn’t really want to be there”.

five by clive

But it happens, right? Meetings run over, traffic happens, unexpected toilet breaks, big nights, lost my keys, lost sense of purpose, or even lost sense direction, a lost cab driver! I once set my alarm clock for PM and not AM, and I missed a whole shift at my job at the local TV Station – the ramification was two hours of lost broadcast, lost advertising revenue and almost a lost job.

There are people in my life who are always late. My hippy friends. My busy friends. My overcommitted friends (see: Boundaries). It’s all good in the end but, myself, I get anxious, sometimes sweaty, often frustrated, and sometimes I get angry with myself and others when I’m running late to something I’ve committed to. Sometimes when certain members of my family are up to hour two in the bathroom, and we are running late, I begin to resent vanity.

Rush kills good vibes, rush kills intimacy and peace. It abolishes that moment of “so how are you, really?” with your child, that fruitful chat with a colleague, meaningful discussion with your partner, funny chat with your friend or that D&M with the Uber driver! The number one problem you will encounter in life is time! Period. So be with it as gracefully as possible. You will not be emotionally healthy in a hurry. You don’t win points anywhere for being in a hurry, in fact, the police department penalises you and so will the people around you! So be ahead of yourself, and everyone else too.

When I ran creative businesses, I would always say to my teams; “be early, at the every latest be on time”. Here’s why:

  1. You can relax and get present to what’s about to happen next. Get closer to items on the agenda, and the outcomes you’re driving for!
  2. Catch people in the reception area; The client, be seen, make new friends,
  3. Send that follow up email, address that outstanding matter (like weeing). Have a social media ‘tea break’ moment.
  4. Friendly catch up with your colleagues, role playing the meeting.
  5. Call that loved one who’s missing you.

I remember as a fast growing independent creative agency, getting a client’s attention was an uphill battle. They are busy, they have retainers with the bigger agency groups. So I was always looking for the edge. I often found sitting around in the Coca-Cola reception area was a way to trip up that Marketing Manager who wasn’t getting back to my email for a purchase order number. Nestlé was the same, their reception area was a feast for follow-ups. I found it complimentary to my intentions to do a great job. It’s a better environment to connect than being at an industry event. There’s also je ne sais quoi when Client A from one category, product or brand sees you in their offices, but not there to meet them, rather Client B. Curiosity, FOMO, whatever it is, it works.

Either way, being consistently ahead of schedule in your day-to-day life will have a strong impact on the long-term outcome of your entire life. It will have a wonderful impact on your relationships too. You’re respecting yourself, your own time, and the time of the people around you. Some of the greatest inventions save us time. The greatest relationships are built on respecting the time you have together. Time is all we have.





Originally posted on Media Week, 27 September 2023: Five By Clive: Be early, at the very latest be on time – Mediaweek