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Researchers Tell Us The Reason Why Some People Are Always Late

Researchers Tell Us The Reason Why Some People Are Always Late

We were about to sit down for lunch but our gracious host’s nephew was late. Thankfully, we did not wait for him because he turned up two hours late! This got me thinking about people who are always late, not perhaps two hours, but ten minutes, twenty minutes, half an hour and so on. There is also the element of how we define tardiness. Being ten minutes late is the same as being on time for some people! There is also a cost for all this unpunctuality. According to one survey, American CEOs are often late and the cost to the nation is about $90 billion, because of lost productivity.

Are you one of these people? Or maybe you are like me who starts to feel really bad if I am more than five minutes late? Do you get very irritated with unpunctual friends and colleagues? There must be an explanation for all this. Read on and I will try to clarify it for you.

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Research on unpunctuality gives us answers

Let us start with some research on all this which will help us understand what is going on here. Researchers have come to one very simple conclusion: tardy people simply underestimate how long a task or journey is going to take – always!

The research carried out by Jeff Conte and Jerald Greenberg of the San Diego State University and published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology is interesting. They identified two types of person. Type A people are usually punctual because they have a built-in clock which estimates that a minute lasts 58 seconds. Type B people calculate a minute as lasting 77 seconds. Type B people are, of course, always late. They also tend to be pretty casual while Type A people are much more active.

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More research has indicated that there may be other factors at work. Not surprisingly, colleagues with younger children are usually late. Then, other things such as job satisfaction and ADHD may also come into play. Researchers at Mindanao State University have also studied other factors which impinge on students’ tardiness while following college courses.

10 tips on how to be more punctual

If you are a Type B person, you may find the following tips useful. Even if you are normally punctual, you may find something useful to enhance your time management skills even more!

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  1. Make a commitment to arriving early. Some people set their home clocks 15 minutes fast, because this helps them to do that.
  2. Improve your time awareness skills if necessary. Maybe you are not conscious of how long certain tasks such as getting ready actually take you. Track these so that you can build this into your planning. You may also be quite shocked that certain tasks are taking you so long!
  3. Travelling time. Always add 15 minutes on to how long it normally takes you and plan accordingly.
  4. Forget your snooze function but continue to use your alarm clock.
  5. Use alarms on your phone or your kitchen timer for when you need to start getting dressed to go out and also when you must leave the house.
  6. Set timers for when you should be finishing certain tasks like checking emails, Facebook activity and keep to them. You are going to save time for other tasks.
  7. Try to visualize being on time and when you are, reward yourself with a coffee and relax before meetings, exams or other appointments.
  8. Maximize your morning routine to make the most of it and really set you up for the day. Saving time here will pay off handsome dividends. You might try the 24 minute routine as outlined here and see if this can work for you.
  9. Remind yourself about how tardiness has cost you lost opportunities in the past. You made a bad impression at an interview or you annoyed your first date. These painful reminders will spur you to do better.
  10. Learn how to say no. A great way to save time if to stop taking on far too much. You can do this graciously by letting the person know that you are under pressure, you have a deadline to meet or you may be able to help another time.

Pass these tips on to your friend, partner or colleague if they are always late and are worried about this. One suggestion is to set a limit on your friend’s unpunctuality. More than 15 minutes late? OK. He or she pays for aperitifs, or dessert, or both!

Featured photo credit: Late/Evan via flickr.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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