5 Reasons You’re Always Late (and How to Fix Them)
There are plenty of things your friends value about you: Your humor, your advice, your taste in TV shows. But your inability to get anywhere on time? Not so much. By now, they’ve probably developed elaborate coping strategies (like giving you a fake, earlier start time), but you know in your heart you can do better. But not all tardiness is created equal. Here are five possible reasons why you might be chronologically challenged—and how to remedy each of them.
You Don’t Like Letting Go
OK, you need to get to the movie theater soon…but you just want to knock out a few more emails before you leave the office. This type of lateness doesn’t stem from carelessness—if anything, you’re too committed to the task at hand to move on to the next one. (If it takes you an eternity to exit a party, you know what we’re talking about.)
The fix: Think of the transition as ripping off a Band-Aid: The sooner you go through with it, the less painful it’ll be overall. And if you need reinforcements, get someone to come pick you up in person and physically drag you out of there.
You’re an Optimist
Google says it’ll take 18 minutes to get to your dinner reservation—so you happily walk out the door exactly 18 minutes before you need to be there. There shouldn’t be traffic on a Tuesday and besides, you know a shortcut! Always planning for the best-case scenario will inevitably get you into trouble, because there will always factors out of your control.
The fix: Give yourself an additional 40 percent longer than you think you’ll need, every time. Yes, it seems like a drag, but you’ll be surprised how often that buffer dwindles to mere minutes. (And if you do find yourself with extra time, reward yourself by catching up on your podcasts or finally reading that article your sister sent you.)
Punctuality Isn’t a Big Deal to You
Sure, for flights and job interviews, you know to arrive early—but when it’s just grabbing brunch, what’s ten minutes? While it’s possible your friends have grown accustomed to your tardiness, never make assumptions about what other people are OK with. They may not tell you to your face, but those who are more rigid timekeepers might take it as a sign you don’t respect them.
The fix: Always treat every get-together like an official appointment, unless you know for a fact it’s a drop-in-whenever situation. Otherwise, the next time a restaurant refuses to seat incomplete parties, you might forfeit your place at the table.
You Lose Track of Time...All the Time
Call it the head-in-the-clouds effect. You often just, well, forget to check the clock (and you’re admittedly terrible at estimating the passage of time). In a way, we admire your ability to disconnect in these hyper-scheduled times. But you also have to, you know, function in society.
The fix: Even if you think there’s no way your Netflix binge/cleaning sesh/head-clearing stroll will last three hours, set an alarm for yourself anyway. In fact, set a backup alarm, too.
You Actually Don’t Want to Go
A month ago, you enthusiastically agreed to go to your coworker’s birthday drinks, but now you’d much rather spend the evening with Dateline and slipper socks. You feel too guilty to bow out completely, but that doesn’t stop you from dragging your feet…and before you know it, you’re two hours late.
The fix: If the obligation is something mandatory (like your job), figure out what’s stressing you out and try to address it. If it’s something that you feel social pressure to attend, think about who’d actually care if you politely canceled. If the answer is “no one,” let yourself off the hook—and give yourself permission to be more discerning in your RSVPs in the future.