Everyone is late from time to time (even you and me), often for a reason that can not be helped. But that’s not who we are going to discuss today. We are going to talk about people who are chronically late — people who do not leave enough time to get someplace on time. Often they often arrive late for lunch, an appointment or an important event like a job interview or a wedding.
If someone is consistently late, it can be a problem for friends and family who feel like victims. It can even damage the relationship. We all know how it feels to be sitting and waiting for a friend who is always late. “Sorry”, she mumbles when she arrives, “but I had to write an important email before I left and, oh, the traffic was really bad.” Maybe she thinks these excuses are acceptable but they get old quickly. It is tempting to give my friend an earlier time so she’ll actually arrive on time.
A far more serious problem is the effect being late has on relationships at work. Unfortunately, chronic latecomers have a poor reputation. Colleagues resent it when their peers show up for meetings after they have started. They do not feel as if they can trust their colleague. Far worse, it can eventually limit career advancement. It’s that serious.
According to Diana DeLonzor, author of Never Be Late Again, most people don’t like being late but this behavior was often acquired a long time ago. Even when they try to be on time, it is extremely difficult to break lifelong habits.
What are some of the reasons that people are chronically late?
- Their time is more important than yours, so they think, and they are indifferent to whether it bothers you. They may consider themselves more important and consider their contribution at work more substantial than yours.
- They squeeze in as much as possible in as little time as possible. Or, they are distracted by last-minute to-dos such as answering the phone instead of letting it go to voicemail. Everything is a distraction. They forget that these things can wait until later.
- They enjoy being late and making others wait. This person may be insecure – arriving well after the appointed hour may make them feel important.
- Some latecomers like creating a grand entrance especially if it’s a large group that is sympathetic to their plight and does not know their history of chronic lateness. Of course they apologize but they also get center stage.
- They do not have a good perception of time and tend to underestimate it. Often people who are chronically late fail to build in enough slack time for unforeseen situations.
- Certain traits also tend to make people chronically late such as anxiety, low self-control and a tendency toward thrill-seeking. It’s an adrenaline rush to beat the clock.
- They thrive on the mini-crisis they create when they are running late and deliberately put themselves under the gun to get themselves moving.
Interestingly, some people are not comfortable with the idea of being early. They do not know what to do with the “extra time” and are frustrated at not making “every minute count.” The thought of downtime with nothing to do is uncomfortable. The last thing they want to do is wait.
What is their idea of being on-time? In a perfect world, some latecomers aim to arrive exactly at the start time. People who tend not to be late view it quite differently. On-time for them is arriving 15 minutes early which eliminates the stress and gives them a chance to grab a cup of coffee, relax and even scout things.
Try these tips for being on time:
- Make being prompt a priority. Recognize the negative, stressed out feelings you have when you are late.
- Build in travel time on the calendar. People who are chronically late tend to underestimate how long it will take to get to a place and be situated.
- Imagine how it will feel to be on time, even early, without the familiar feelings of being stressed. People will respect that you are on time.
- Get ready early. Gather up the documents you need ahead of time. That way, if an interruption occurs, you can handle it and still be ready to leave on time. Some of our clients begin preparing for the meeting when they are supposed to leave.
- Take reading material or something with you so you do not feel as if you are wasting time while you are waiting. Plan it ahead of time so you know that your time will be used efficiently. It will feel so good that you will want to do it again.
- If you are late most of the time, plan to be on time two times out of five. As you get better, add another time so that you are eventually on time five times out of five. Keep track of your progress with a journal (or Evernote).
- Plan the night before what you will need for appointments the next day and when you need to leave. Make sure to check for early morning meetings. It is no fun when the meeting stops and everyone looks at you when you walk into a meeting late.
- Watch the clock. Late people do not tend to be aware of the time.
- Set the timer, even two. One for when to start getting ready and the other for when to walk out the door.
- Think about the actions you will need to take to be ready to leave on time.
- Estimate the time you need to get somewhere and double it.
- Stop doing other things well before you leave. Remind yourself they can be done later.
- Fine yourself if you are late or give yourself a negative consequence says Dr. Phil. http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/215.
- Estimate how long something will take and then compare it with the actual time it took.