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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 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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