You probably know people who are late. Often.
They don’t want to be late. In fact, their good intentions are probably the reason that they are late.
They might try one technique or another, and even apologise for being late, and yet it happens again.
There is one reason and one amplifying factor.
The amplifying factor is that when they are late, people wait for them.
You might notice that things that leave on time [commuter trains, airplanes, live TV and radio shows etc] almost never have a crowd of people showing up five or ten minutes late cursing out the system.
For those things, the things that are known to leave on time, they manage to show up. That’s because their good intentions are not welcome here.
And the reason?
The reason is that in every interaction, they want to connect a bit more, respect the other person’s ideas and contribute in that moment.
They do that by spending their most precious resource on their behalf.
What is happening is that they are looking for a magical way to get more minutes in the day.
Of course, the person they are meeting with does not need five more minutes of their time.
They need five more hours of their time. But it feels like giving them five minutes one does not have is a way of showing them that they care.
The alternative is a simple as it is difficult: Say no.
Say it without rushing and without stress. “I’m sorry, our time is up.”
An overloaded truck is not a more efficient way to move coal [or anything else]. And when you overload your day by treating time as squishy based on how much you care, you have just become inefficient and thus disrespectful.
Lots of other things in our life are not squishy. Gravity, for example, or the solidity of dry wall. They are what they are.
So is time if you let it.
Being on time is a form of showing respect.
The hard part about being on time is standing up and moving on.
But the cost of being squishy is that you are not only disrespecting the next person, you are stressed all the time.
People who are always in a rush, stressed out, forget things, lose things because they can’t remember where they left them, such people don’t have time management skills.
Stand up and walk out.
People will learn, and they will end up respecting you for it, because it is not personal. Just as it is not personal when the train leaves on time.
The alternative, which is squishiness, is personal. Because if you like someone, you are willing to be even more late than usual.
Time is up.