The Magic Of Punctuality

I watched John Green’s video on punctuality and I was reminded that I find people who are perfectly on time for everything FASCINATING.

You see, I’m chronically, perpetually early. So much so that I’m always anticipating some sort of loitering citation because I don’t like to show up at someone’s house early (that’s just rude) so I tend to find a house somewhere nearby that I’ll park in front of and read to kill time until I’m on time. Or if I’m meeting someone at a restaurant I’ll sit in the parking lot nearby for awhile until I go in. I know actually showing up early is rude, so I kill time nearby until I’m “on time” for whatever I’m there for.

So someone who is actually on time is fascinating to me, how do you arrive places consistently on time?

Let me explain why I’m perpetually early, and then you’ll understand my confusion.

I consider every step of the process of getting somewhere, I over approximate how much time it takes to complete that step so that I can allow for problems that might arise during that step, and so if nothing goes wrong I end up with extra time when I arrive to my destination.

For example: I met some friends for dinner a few weeks ago on the other side of town. Google maps told me it would take me 25 minutes to get there but it was rush hour and you have to allow for sudden traffic changes so I gave myself 40 minutes just in case I had to re-route. The restaurant was in an area notoriously bad for parking so I allowed myself an extra 10 minutes to find a parking space and then an extra 10 minutes to walk to the restaurant from what was surely going to be a far away parking spot. So, I gave myself an hour to arrive someplace Google maps told me was 25 minutes away. It ended up taking me 30 minutes to get there, no time to park and the spot was close so it would take no time to walk so I was there 20 minutes early.

But I could have struggled with parking, traffic, and had a long walk so I’m glad I allowed myself that buffer. If I had not, I would have been 5 minutes late.

My point is, I understand how people are chronically late: Typically they are not good at the buffering for problems, and they rarely factor the in-between steps like finding parking or stopping for gas. I understand people who are chronically early because we buffer everything for worse-case scenario and we consider all in-between steps when factoring how long something will take. HOW DO THE CHRONICALLY PUNCTUAL PEOPLE DO IT? If they don’t buffer, they should be regularly late because we all know things come up – ESPECIALLY WITH KIDS. If they DO buffer, how are they not regularly early?

Are you chronically on time? Are you just REALLY good at figuring out exactly how much time you need and do you just RARELY run into complications? I must know your secrets because I chronically punctual people magical!

9 thoughts on “The Magic Of Punctuality”

  1. THIS IS ME. My boyfriend is one of those people who leaves his house in exactly the amount of minutes it will take to get somewhere, with no planning for parking being bad, etc. It is not good for my anxiety. lol. And he’s not even bothered by it! HOW does he live like that?!?!?! If I show up a few minutes late somewhere I feel like people are judging me. I hate it!

  2. I’m the same way you are, and I have no idea how anyone can manage to always be exactly on time. Magic? Witchcraft? It honestly just does not seem possible to me.

    Still, I’d rather be this way than be the kind of person who texts five minutes _after_ they said they’d get there to announce that they’re “just leaving.”

  3. I have relatives like that, and it is the wooooorst planning anything that involves them.

  4. That sounds like me, too. My husband will calculate to the minute how much time he needs, with no buffer, and it makes me SO STRESSED. I would a thousand times rather be early than late. I’m 100% sure this came from having to catch the bus to/from school as a kid. If I missed the bus, I was responsible for getting myself to school – neighbor, grandparent, I’m sure my parents would have rathered see me hitchhike than miss school because I missed the bus. I have a friend who is chronically late, to the point where I make MYSELF late AND pack a book when I’m meeting her because I know whatever time I say it’ll be at least 45 minutes after that before she shows up. Ugh.

  5. I am chronically late. My mom is chronically early. This created lots of conflict when I was a teenager!?

    My problem is that I don’t account for finding a parking spot, walking to location, etc. I also think I can get more done in a time frame than I actually can.

    When I first had kids, I became even more late. I am getting better at being on time. I have learned that I just need more time to complete tasks/get ready. I usually give myself an extra 30 minutes whenever I need to be somewhere.

  6. I account for time of the day/potential traffic, parking situations, etc. I generally try to arrive 5-10 minutes. I have a friend who is chronically late and it is so bad that our group seriously mocks her for it. It’s ridiculous and frustrating.

    My husband is an under-estimator and considers 30 minutes late to be okay (assuming it is a family function at someone’s house and not a public space). At this point, I usually just lie to him about arrival times. If I want to be at Thanksgiving by noon, I will tell him 11. 🙂

  7. I think YOU are the exactly-on-time person. I mean, I’m a pretty on-time person, but I occasionally mis-judge (99% of the time on the side of being too early), so I do exactly what you do & park/hang out before it’s time to actually walk in so that I walk in on time & not early. I think the secret is that you’ve already discovered the secret!

  8. Others probably think you are the one always on time – never realising you’ve sat in the car for 30mins just in case. I’m the same.
    I always allow extra time just in case.

  9. You may appear chronically on time to others, because you wait in the car. I am chronically a couple minutes late. In an effort to get there on time, I don’t leave any buffer. That is what I am trying to do,to leave a 5-10 minute buffer.

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