The alarm rang at 7:30 today – as always. I woke up, happy to have two-and-a-half hours before I needed to start work. I took a quick shower, ate some food, caught up with the news, and put on my clothes. Then, I took a quick glimpse at my mobile to check the time (surely I have have more than enough), just to realize that…
“Oh, damn! I’m late again!!”
I’m notoriously late. Many people think I’m disorganized. Others take my lateness personally, as if I was being intentionally late to test their limits or the like…
In fact, I don’t mean anything by being late. I just feel like I have more time than I actually do.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to have a plan – and I always do my best to fulfill it. Whenever I have an appointment, I get myself ready way before I need to leave home. However, no matter how hard I try to get places on time, it ALWAYS takes me longer than planned.
This situation applies to both my work and personal lives. I’m notoriously late for gatherings, and often have to explain myself to the irritated faces of my friends – patiently waiting for me.
It’s time to face the facts:
I’m a chronically unpunctual person – that’s just who I am.
Fortunately, I’m far from the only person who acts like this. Experts have theorized that certain people are actually “hardwired” to be late. This “programming” may be embedded deep within the tangled lobes of your brain. Lateness isn’t just a choice – it’s a consequence of your psychology and personality type.
Researchers at San Diego Star University have linked lateness to more “laid back” personalities (Type B, for example). These people usually don’t “sweat the small stuff” and are good at “looking at the big picture”.
According to the Diana DeLonzor, a time management consultant and author of “Never Be Late Again”, notoriously late people aren’t necessary disorganized, lazy, or disrespectful. They’re just more “optimistic” than their peers. “Late people” assume they can fit more activities into their days, despite what is practical or realistic.
“Many late people tend to be both optimistic and unrealistic…This affects their perception of time. They really believe they can go for a run, pick up their clothes at the dry cleaners, buy groceries and drop off the kids at school in an hour. They remember that single shining day 10 years ago when they really did all those things in 60 minutes flat, and forget all the other times that everything took much, much longer.”
When is it okay to be late?
After all, punctuality is a cultural phenomenon. Your background determines how you perceive punctuality. People from the south of Europe or Latin American don’t consider 10-15 minutes of lateness to be a problem. However, to people in the US or Germany that amount of lateness is considered almost a crime.
Balance your inner nature with the situations you find yourself in. Measure the impact of your personal habits on others’ lives. In general, there are two different type of lateness:
- Unacceptable lateness – In these cases, your lateness negatively impacts others. If you make someone wait for you (especially outdoors) or prevent them from starting a project or activity, you need to be more aware of your self-absorption.
- Acceptable lateness – Your friends and colleagues can continue with their plans whether or not you’re on time. For example, if you’re late to a “group hang” or a party, it’s not a big deal. Also, you can be late to work if you work independently.
Are you often late – but rarely inconvenience other people? That’s great – enjoy it. There’s nothing with your optimistic perspective on time-management. It’s even healthy!
Chronological time doesn’t matter. What matters is how you use your time.
Of course, it’s easier to complete tasks on time and avoid “dirty looks” from your colleagues and bosses. Do you really want to arrive late again and walk in late in from of the whole office?
However, your relaxed attitude also has some benefits. You can stay calm when when others are “freaking out” and rushing through their work. You’re the kind of person who looks at your watch and realizes there’s plenty of time left to finish your work. People who remain hopeful about time management—no matter how little time they actually have—are generally happier than those who “over-stress” about being late—as if this was some kind of crime.
Your optimism reduces anxiety and stress and helps you maintain a healthy immune system. It reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and makes your overall life longer and happier.
Optimists are more productive and creative. Even if they don’t meet deadliness as often as their colleagues, they work extraordinary well in many situations.
“Late People” are more likely to live in the present. They take time to enjoy the aroma of their coffee and spend a few more minutes talking with the people they “just bump into”, even though this adds to their chances of being late.
Once again, enjoy your optimistic nature. Plans are important, but (in most life-situations) it’s not the end of the world to break them. Besides, there’s nothing worse than stress.