Ask Dr. Joy: Are You Chronically Late?

By WEEK Reporter

November 3, 2010 Updated Nov 3, 2010 at 10:40 PM CDT

Are you one of those people? Someone who is always 10 or 15 minutes late for every event?

Try as you might, you never seem to “get it together” to make it on time.
Or perhaps you know someone who is constantly saying they are sorry because they are late, while you wait endlessly at the restaurant for them.

Dr. Joy Miller shares some research on the chronically late and some tips that might change your strategy.

It seems that people are later than ever. Is it just my imagination, or is it true?

• People are trying to push too much into too little time, in fact, studies show that people underestimate how long things take by 30%
• More and more people think they are responsible if they text or make a cell phone call to announce their lateness, and think all is forgiven
• Tardiness doesn’t seem to have many consequences because people have become experts at blaming things on externals.

Are there categories of those who are chronically late?

• The rationalizer- is the one who always blames it on something outside themselves
• The production master- the one who tries to squeeze in as much as possible
• The procrastinator- the one who always puts things off and is lacking in self control and self-timing
• The evader- the one who feels uncomfortable about social situations, worries how they will be viewed by the group, or feels anxious in general
• The controller- the one who always wants to make the grant entrance and have things wait just for them

So what can the chronically late do to improve their skills?

• Make a daily plan of your activities and estimate time schedules for each activity
• Plan to be 15 minutes early and you’ll be on time. Don’t plan on being on time- plan to be early!
• Reset your clocks 10-15 minutes early
• Remember that being late is a statement about yourself and the other person. It speaks to you and your value of commitments and realize that some people do personalize your lateness.

So what if a friend or someone we love is a chronic late individual… what can we do?

• Discuss the problem with them openly to minimize resentment
• Set parameters. If they are late they should call. If more than 15 minutes late you will go ahead and leave or start eating
• Fudge on the time. Tell them the appointment is 15-30 minutes earlier than it is
• Make a deal. If they are late, then they buy lunch, or buy coffee, or pay for the gas.
• Pick up your pal so they are on time to wherever you are going.
• Realize everyone has flaws. Bring a book with you, realize it is not about you. If they are important to you, just relax and enjoy your time to yourself.

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