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Researchers Tell Us The Reason Why Some People Are Always Late

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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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Robert Locke

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

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