I have been habitually late my whole life. This is not new news to long-time Smart Cleaning School Podcast listeners. In fact, I blamed it on my mom in a past episode. Let me first right a wrong. My mom declares that it was not her that was always late when I was a kid. Yes, our family was always late for events (all of them). But my mom has edited my blame from her to her husband, my step-father Paul. Sorry Dad. You're the culprit of lateness. I was influenced by this as a kid and carried lateness into adulthood. It wasn't until a few pivotal times that I learned some things that would change me. One is from the Royal Rangers Ministry that I am very invested. I've been to leadership training camps with the Rangers and hear this from the beginning to the end. "5 minutes early is on time and on time is late." The other is from my Pop-Pop. I shared in "He Built You a Clock" how my Pop-Pop showed me all throughout his life that being on time was important. It showed others that you value their time. I learned this on the weekends growing up and learned lateness during the week. At the age of 45, I can say that I finally get it. I don't want to be late anymore. I want to show people that I value them by being there on time. In fact, I want to be early. Does this relate?
How do you change? It seems so silly to ask, but let's break this down. You and I have been so programmed to leave the house at the exact time you need to get there on time. In many cases, we leave a few minutes later and believe we can make it up with going faster. We leave no margin for traffic, for forgetting something important at the house, for anything that could go wrong. In fact, we try a sort of inverse margin by leaving late and trying to miraculously make up the time. This margin is called a buffer. I want you to hear some notes from one of my favorite books called "Essentialism" by Greg McKeown. This comes from an article from mentalpivot.com.
Chapter 15: BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage
A buffer is planned margin. You all know what it is if you have a driver's license. When you're on the highway, do you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you? If you're in Philly and drive the Schuylkill Expressway, you have never heard of that before as cars are just feet apart. I'm not kidding actually. It's noted as one of the most dangerous roads in the Philly Area and probably nationwide. There is no buffer on the Schuylkill. Safe drivers add space (and plenty of it) between their vehicle and the car ahead. This is safe. This is smart. This is a buffer.
When I have a breakfast meeting at 7:30 am, what time do I get there now? I get there at 7:25 as early is on time. Do I hit this every time? No! But am working on this big time. How do I get there early? It's simple. I figure out how long the drive takes and add 50%. So if the drive is normally 15 minutes, I'll allot for 23 minutes. What if it's winter and the windshield is icy or I need to warm up the car? I better add 10 minutes. I'll also add 15 more minutes to take a shower and get ready than I think I need. I would normally estimate 30 minutes for getting ready. I'm at 1 hour and 10 minutes so far. Lastly, I do struggle a bit with the snooze button which is 7 minutes for me. I'll add 2 snoozes of buffer. My total buffered time is now 1 hour and 30 minutes. My original plan for the morning was 45 minutes. I need to set my alarm for 5:55am, not 6:45! That's twice the estimate of time, just like the notes from Essentialism states "As a rule of thumb: Double your time estimates." Here's what's amazing. I have my alarm set for 5:55am and I get to breakfast at 7:25! I somehow consumed my entire buffered time. It's magic right?
It's so eye-opening to see this planned out because for years I swore that I didn't need an hour and a half to get ready. That's why I was always late! I would leave myself just enough time or not enough. This would stress me out in the morning and put me in a rush. I gave away my peace because of poor planning. I don't want that anymore. It's a 45 minute decision on an alarm clock and probably getting to bed a little earlier and I'll have my peace back. Plus, I'll show respect to those I'm meeting. This is why so many new cleaning company owners struggle too. They don't know how to estimate time, so they do one of two things.
Let's all learn to add buffer into our lives and businesses. The buffer will give us our peace back and help us become more profitable in our cleaning company.
Check out my interview with the T-Bag Company Founder, entitled "Respectful, Reliable, Responsible with Damon Washington". You can purchase any of the T-Bag products at a 10% discount through the Smart Cleaning School Resources Page at smartcleaningschool.com/resources.
"Helping cleaning professionals make the impact they were meant to make."