Early To Bed. Early To Rise.

Early To Bed. Early To Rise.

The flight to San Juan was scheduled to leave at 7:25 AM, so my mental math looked something like this:

“Want to get to airport an hour early, that’s 6:25 AM.

Thirty minutes to get to airport, that’s 6:00.

Half an hour to get ready, gotta get up at 5:30.”

But here’s what happened:

Was still jet-lagged from my trip back from Southeast Asia and California the day before, so I went to bed early and was wide awake at 4:30 AM. Finally got out of bed at 5:00. Took 40 minutes to leave house and 20 minutes to get to airport because of early hour, so I arrived at 6:00. Zipped through TSA pre-check, grabbed a snack and still got to gate at 6:15 – at least 45 minutes before boarding time.

Know what happened next? Absolutely nothing. I read the paper, sipped my coffee, and boarded the flight when they called my section. No stress, no drama, no nothing.

Flight on the way back landed late and I was pulled over by a policeman for speeding.

“Where’s the fire, Mario?” he asked.

“Sorry officer,” I answered. “I’m late for a meeting.”

“You should have left sooner.”

Damn it! Why didn’t I think of that? I had no good response, so I just nodded and opened my hand and took the ticket.

Leave early, stress free. Leave late, stressful.

Can it really be as easy as that?

“Leave early?!” I hear you screaming. “Who’s got time to leave early? And anyways, what the hell do I do when I get to the airport or meeting with an extra half hour to kill?”

Here’s a radical idea – you’ve probably got your smartphone, laptop or iPad with you already – why don’t you do what you’d do if you were still sitting at your desk? Answer messages and emails, reread your proposal or presentation, read the newspaper, write blog posts, or just sit quietly and think.

The simple point is that thanks to today’s technology, where you are has less and less to do with what you can accomplish than ever before. And so the old rules just don’t apply anymore. The trick is to figure out how to apply the new realities and possibilities to make your life as enjoyable, productive, and stress-free as possible.

All of a sudden, location and productivity are not joined at the hip. A workspace can be anywhere with power and Wi-Fi. The inspiration muse can be serviced wherever you are. An hour in a Starbucks between meetings can be more productive than running back to the office only to turn around and run back out again. And when you are in the office and face-to-face, that time can be better spent doing the personal warm and fuzzies — the “atta-boys” and “atta-girls” that are best done in person.

Running late and making yourself and everyone around you crazy no longer needs to be a part of your life – or your brand. All you have to do is change the way you approach your calendar and your to-do list.

Try it. I think you’ll like it.

By |2014-02-10T15:49:16+00:00February 10th, 2014|16 Comments


  1. Mark Galvin February 10, 2014 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    Great point! I learned this when going to a football game. Get there an hour and a half early and enjoy the happenings before the game. Plus, since none of us will go to a game alone, there is much more time to build relationships or spend time with loved ones. When late to a game I would always get so angry at the traffic that no one wants to talk to me until the 2nd quarter.

    Once I learned this, I have always left the office early for across town dinner appointments. Since Atlanta has bad traffic, I will set up at Starbucks close to the dinner locale and work until it is time to eat. Thus avoiding the stress of fighting traffic and arriving to the appointment in a disheveled mood. This strategy has helped me have a clear mind so I am ready to do business or build rapport.

    • Bruce Turkel February 10, 2014 at 4:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Mark, for showing that it works in all different aspects of life. Clearly it’s not rocket science, just an easy way to make life a little more pleasant.

  2. Mace Horoff February 10, 2014 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    I drive my wife crazy. I’ll get to the airport two hours early. Once I’m there, I relax, but I feel stressed until I’m there. I enjoy writing or reading content, including yours, while I’m there.

  3. David Levin February 12, 2014 at 10:30 am - Reply

    I would add that an extra hour in the airport might be your MOST productive time. Especially with creative stuff, I have gotten more done in airports and on flights than anywhere else. Zero distractions = a beautiful thing!

  4. Ron Culberson February 12, 2014 at 10:44 am - Reply

    Love this! I am a big fan of Arrive Early and Relax. It’s amazing how often we create our own stress.

  5. Paul H. Burton February 12, 2014 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Bruce: You’ve hit on one of my favorite topics – making time to be on time. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is a few minutes of down time. After years of running down concourses praying that the flight was delayed in boarding (!!), I now leave for the airport two hours prior to flight time. I’m also only 20 minutes away, but the stress-free drive is nice, TSA is never stressful, and sipping a cup of coffee while perusing my email prior to boarding ensures that no small fire grows large before we’re at 10,000 feet.

    One of my Bite-Sized Booklets is titled Working on the Move. It’s focus is leveraging the productive use of our technology (laptops, tablets, smartphones) in this mobile/global work world. I send the PDF to any of your readers – free – if they send me their email addresses, no strings attached.

    • Bruce Turkel February 12, 2014 at 5:11 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Paul. I appreciate your generous offer. Please start by sending me a copy. My email address is bturkel at turkelbrands dot com

  6. Tim Daniels February 12, 2014 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Another part of that is, by consistently arriving late for appointments, you are telling others that their time is not important to you. We don’t probably think that way, but that is the message being conveyed. And officer, I’m guilty too.

  7. Mike Thorn February 12, 2014 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Bruce —

    At last, someone else who realizes that the stress of rising and arriving late is not worth it!!! And, as you stated, arriving early provides the quiet time to just relax and, if so inclined, catch up with last minute messages or work.

    Now, if you could just convince my wife of the value of this approach …….

    Mike (NEVER late for a flight) Thorn

    • Bruce Turkel February 12, 2014 at 5:10 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Mike. I’m glad the concept works for you, too. Convincing your “wife of the value of this approach,” however, is WAY beyond my skill set!

  8. Julie Donnelly February 15, 2014 at 10:38 am - Reply

    Amen! My math always leans toward things taking longer than they actually take – as a result I’m always early. Knowing that, I always bring reading with me. Like you said, with Smart Phones, etc., we can still be productive. Besides, a tight stomach and watching the clock frantically isn’t healthy.

    Have a Happy Day!

  9. Rebecca Staton-Reinstein February 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Bruce, great reminder to simply be mindful, which we can’t do when we’re maniacal! Another boon to arriving early at the airport is you never know what cool thing might be there — lots of airports have art, photography, or historical exhibits to enjoy and ponder. Perhaps one of the most delightful finds was in Asia, where there was a 3-layered indoor jungle and butterfly garden.

  10. Vinny Verelli February 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    Although I try to schedule flights to avoid most of Atlanta’s infamous traffic there are no guarantees. Bad traffic in Atlanta is not an excuse, it’s a reality. I build an extra hour into my arrival time and if I’m early, I head to the Sky Lounge. And at my age I don’t like rushing, so I always arrive to the gig the night before which gives me the option to take advantage of the FREE drinks in the Sky Lounge. If you’re stressed you can’t have fun and if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.

  11. Ed February 15, 2014 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    Love some of your coined phrases… however a Twist from Ed…

    Leave early – Stress Free
    Leave Late – Stress FULL

    Best of Life Bruce,

  12. Mike Grimme February 18, 2014 at 4:56 am - Reply

    Agree 100%. Gave up on OJ Simpson runs through the airport long ago as technology improved. Who needs the stress.

  13. Ken Dwight February 20, 2014 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this insightful post. I had a similar awakening back in the 70s, as I was sprinting to a gate at the Philadelphia Airport. Now I plan to arrive at the airport 2 hours before flight time, so even if I’m a half-hour late I’m still stress-free. One point I would add is to include a membership at the VIP Club of your preferred airline – that gives you a quiet, interruption-free workspace with phones, Internet access, and refreshments.

    One more note – if you really were suffering from jet lag, check out http://www.stopjetlag.com. I’ve been using their service since my first trip to Australia in 1991, and it’s magical. You step off the airplane with your body on local time. I’ve never lost a minute of work, play, or sleep to jet lag – and that’s on multiple trips to Europe and the South Pacific, all times of day, eastbound or westbound.

    They prepare an anti-jet lag itinerary personalized to your itinerary, your flight times, and your personal habits and preferences. All for $35, round-trip. I can’t recommend them highly enough. Before your next international trip, give it a try!

Leave A Comment