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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 March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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