Are You Chronically Late? 8 Tips for Showing Up on Time.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day, or List Day, or Quiz Day.

This Wednesday: 8 tips for getting yourself to show up on time.

Many people have the habit of constantly running late — and they drive themselves, and other people, crazy.

I have the opposite problem — I’m pathologically early, and often arrive places too soon. This is annoying, as well, but in a different way. As I write this, I’m realize that I assume that chronic earliness is very rare. But maybe it’s not. Are you chronically early?

In any event, more people seem bothered by chronic lateness. Feeling as though you’re always running twenty minutes behind schedule is an unhappy feeling. Having to rush, forgetting things in your haste, dealing with annoyed people when you arrive…it’s no fun.

If you find yourself chronically late, what steps can you take to be more prompt? That depends on why you’re late. As my Eighth Commandment holds, the first step is to Identify the problem – then you can see more easily what you need to change.

There are many reasons you might be late, but some are particularly common. Are you late because…

1.You sleep too late? If you’re so exhausted in the morning that you sleep until the last possible moment, it’s time to think about going to sleep earlier. Many people don’t get enough sleep, and sleep deprivation is a real drag on your happiness and health. Try to turn off the light sooner each night.

2.You try to get one last thing done? Apparently, this is a common cause of tardiness. If you always try to answer one more email or put away one more load of laundry before you leave, here’s a way to outwit yourself: take a task that you can do when you reach your destination, and leave early. Tell yourself that you need that ten minutes on the other end to read those brochures or check those figures.

3. You under-estimate the commute time? You may tell yourself it takes twenty minutes to get to work, but if it actually takes forty minutes, you’re going to be chronically late. Have you exactly identified the time by which you need to leave? That’s what worked for me for getting my kids to school on time. As I write about in Happier at Home, we have a precise time that we’re supposed to leave, so I know if we’re running late, and by how much.

4. You can’t find your keys/wallet/phone/sunglasses? Nothing is more annoying than searching for lost objects when you’re running late. Designate a place in your house for your key items, and put those things in that spot, every time. I keep everything important in my (extremely unfashionable) backpack, and fortunately a backpack is big enough that it’s always easy to find. If you still can’t find your keys, here are some tips for finding misplaced objects.

5. Other people in your house are disorganized? Your wife can’t find her phone, your son can’t find his Spanish book, so you’re late. As hard as it is to get yourself organized, it’s even harder to help other people get organized. Try setting up the “key things” place in your house. Prod your children to get their school stuff organized the night before—and coax the outfit-changing types to pick their outfits the night before, too. Get lunches ready. Etc.

6. Your co-workers won’t end meetings on time? This is an exasperating problem. You’re supposed to be someplace else, but you’re trapped in a meeting that’s going long. Sometimes, this is inevitable, but if you find it happening over and over, identify the problem. Is too little time allotted to meetings that deserve more time? Is the weekly staff meeting twenty minutes of work crammed into sixty minutes? If you face this issue repeatedly, there’s probably an identifiable problem – and once you identify it, you can develop strategies to solve it — e.g., sticking to an agenda; circulating information by email; not permitting discussions about contentious philosophical questions not relevant to the tasks at hand, etc. (This last problem is surprisingly widespread, in my experience.)

7. You haven’t considered how your behavior affects someone else? A friend was chronically late dropping off her son at sports activities until he said, “You’re always late dropping me off because it doesn’t affect you, but you’re always on time to pick me up, because you’d be embarrassed to be the last parent at pick-up.” She was never late again.

8.You hate your destination so much you want to postpone showing up for as long as possible? If you dread going to work that much, or you hate school so deeply, or wherever your destination might be, you’re giving yourself a clear signal that you need think about making a change in your life.

Late or not, if you find yourself rushing around every morning, consider waking up earlier (see #1 above). Yes, it’s tough to give up those last precious moments of sleep, and it’s even tougher to go to bed earlier and cut into what, for many people, is their leisure time. But it helps.

I get up at 6:00 a.m. so I have an hour to myself before I have to rassle everyone out of bed. This has made a huge improvement in our mornings. Because I’m organized and ready by 7:00 a.m., I can be focused on getting all of us out the door. (On a related note, here are more tips for keeping school mornings calm and cheery.)

What are some other strategies that work if you suffer from chronic lateness?

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  • Penelope Schmitt

    Chronically early. This is my one ‘Type A’ behavior. I have showed up at events as much as an hour early because I just wasn’t sure of the start time. However, when I know the time, I now have a method for dealing with this without embarrassing myself, inconveniencing hosts, or annoying others. I think I’ve mentioned this before:
    I go ahead and get myself ready the way I want to. Then I set my timer to go off when it is TRULY time to leave the house for whatever appointment. In the interim I work on something else, and when the bell rings, I pick up my purse and whatever and go. Definitely a good self-management technique

    • Umesh

      Good article, worth reading.

  • Lydia Titterington

    Great article, such an issue. I used to have a huge problem with being chronically early as well. I got which accesses your calendar, google maps which tells me when to leave and how to get there. I hope it helps you as much as its helped me. Good luck with time keeping folks!

  • Lorna

    I don’t believe in chronic earliness. Early is ‘on time’ in my book. ‘On time’ is late. I get so annoyed by people being late because of traffic etc. These possibilities should be factored in – so ‘on time’ really does need to be early. I used to feel bad about always arriving half an hour early for everything and having to wait around for people but then I read Ivanka Trump’s book and she said that for her first job interview she arrived an hour early and then walked around the block until her interview began so there was no risk of her being late. My English teacher told me once never to be without a book, that way if I am early it is never time wasted either.

  • Anne

    Chronically late, though I have improved. I underestimate time quite a bit, though again, I’m getting better at this, especially since becoming a mom (shoes on, someone doesn’t want to leave, strapped in car seats, did I remember a water bottle, etc. etc.).

  • cruella

    Quite a few people that are chronically late actually may have a problem in the neuropsyciatric area, diagnosed or not. The problem may have to do with poor organization skills (running around looking for lost things) and a very hazy sense of what you can actually achieve in let’s say 15 minutes (load the washing machine YES – having a shower, do your make-up, fix hair, pick outfit NO) because of no inner time-keeper and also what could be called a transitional problem, that is, very hard to switch from one activity to another – poorly working starting motor.

    Gretchen’s strategies may work well for some of this, but the very first thing is really identifying the problem, as she points out. If the problem’s really in this field, then you also have to recognise that it may NOT be so easy to just establish new habits of putting important stuff in one place etcetera. Why should you remember doing that? Every occasion is a new occasion, so to speak. Helpful things are indeed time-keepers and alarms – even though you would have to work hard to establish the new pattern of actually setting them, keeping your mobile phone charged and so on.

    I have in-laws and friends who are chronically early, annoyingly so when you’re going some place together. They tend to be – to me – annoyingly precise about other stuff as well, quite often strongly opinionated and not very flexible. Quite literally-minded and not very associative, which is exasperating to some-one like me. I’m sure they find me tiringly flighty:-)

    • Gillian

      I can certainly relate to “what could be called a transitional problem, that is, very hard to switch from one activity to another – poorly working starting motor.” I have this problem with everything which is why I am easily overwhelmed when faced with a lot of small tasks. Also why I don’t plan on any other activity prior to having to go somewhere at a particular time. I firmly believe that in many cases, this is the cause of workaholism. It is SO much easier to keep working than to switch to something else.

      • This is me!! Even if I get up at 5am I’m still late to work because I’m focusing on something else. Once I’m at work, I barely get up to pee and work at least an hour or two to make up for being late. Most days I could stay later, but I try to at least keep the cat on a regular schedule. 🙂

  • This is awesome because I battle with chronic earliness too and I always catch myself waiting in my car or driving around in circles to kill an extra ten minutes. It’s frustrating but I despise being late so much that I’m willing to just let it be and know that I am probably going to be the first one to show up.

    I think it’s stemmed from my parents always being chronically late when I was growing up. I was always late to baseball practice or school and as soon as I was able to drive myself I was early as could be.

    I will definitely share this list with some very close family and friends who tend to be on the late side.


  • Dhaval

    hey hello every1 m facing the problem as i cant wake up early in the morning b’coz i don’t like missing ma last dream and i sleep till the maximum extent of time.
    i would love to hear if any1 has a real solution over this and ha going early to bed also doesn’t helps me. so, please feel free to reply me if any solution any of you have

    • Ann

      Perhaps if you have a coffee pot you can set it up and put it on a timer and the smell will tempt you to get up. That way there is something pleasant waiting for you.

      • Dhaval

        thanks ann was very helpful…

  • Ann

    I have often run late because I always seem to have one last thing I need to do. One day I watched an episode of Dr. Phil. He had a couple on, and the man was chronically late and the wife was frustrated. Dr. Phil looked him in the eye and said point blank ” you are incredibly arrogant”. Then Dr. Phil backed off a little and said the guest seemed like a likeable guy, but what his behaviour indicated was a total lack of respect for the time and priorities of other people. So now what I do is envision how frustrating it is for the people expecting me or my family if we are late and I find I am seldom late now.

  • Mimi Gregor

    I am chronically early for everything, which is why I always carry a book with me to appointments. This way, it is not wasted time; it is time to relax before said appointment.

    My husband, however, always seems to run a tad bit late. He tends to underestimate how long it takes him to get ready. He needs time to “wake up” first, have coffee, read the paper, go on the computer. THEN he starts getting ready. He also doesn’t factor in the endless road work that goes on around here when he estimates how long it will take him to get to his destination. I, on the other hand, get dressed and do my chores FIRST. THEN, if I have time, I read the paper and go online until it is time to leave. I always assume that there will be road work going on on my route. I am seldom surprised; there is ALWAYS road work. The orange traffic cone is our state tree.

    It can be a bit annoying having such different styles, but I get around it by waking him up earlier than I need to if we are going somewhere, knowing that he needs a lot more time to “wake up” than I do. Also, there is a rack by the back door for keys and a bowl for other stuff like cell phone and wallet, so that he won’t have to rummage around looking for stuff at the last minute. Occasionally, I even, um, out and out lie about what time we have to be somewhere, so that we get there on time.

  • AliB

    It must be the rebel in me but this post just made me feel annoyed that lateness is seen as so bad. I am chronically late because I really hate being early – it makes me agitated at the time I’m wasting – I am very bad at waiting. I hope that I am not so arrogant to do this if it will affect others – my kids are not late to school, I would certainly be on time for an early doctors appt. I think I assess the importance of earliness for every appt – I might be 5mins late for a pilates class on the basis they get on without me and I slip in, same for a large group lecture – I feel its me missing out and I’m not disturbing anyone. I’ll always be late meeting a group of friends for drinks (as long as I’m not leaving one friend on their own) – I might be 5mins late for an afternoon doctors appt on the basis I have always had to wait at least 30mins. I am not late on purpose but because I aim to be exactly on time and something unforseen will occur – its a risk I accept. Indeed accepting I might be 5mins late makes me relax and not rush or forget things. Perhaps this is very rude and I need to take the Dr Phil advice….. Luckily I think I have a lot of friends and work colleagues with the same attitude – who understand that where possible (and I know it is not always possible) times are approximate – its nice to have some flexibility. It never bothers me if someone is 5-10 mins late. I’m a bit nervous posting this – perhaps I have a neuropsychiatric disorder!!

    • Anna

      The reason the rest of us see it as “so bad” is simple: being late says that you consider your time more valuable than others’ time. I know that’s why I feel so irritated by chronically late friends – especially when we’re supposed to be meeting out for drinks as you describe. I wouldn’t be surprised if the friends who are routinely left waiting for you feel the same way, whether they say so out loud or not.

      • PolarSamovar

        Yes; I find it annoying when someone is late because they hate to waste their time waiting. Do they think that’s unique to them, and other people like to wait?

      • phoenix1920

        I wouldn’t use the term “rest of us” because it implies that everybody else feels like you. Some people are very picky about being exactly on time, and others are more laid back. I always try to be on time or early but if a person is 5-10 minutes, I don’t see it as a big deal. If they are coming over to my house, I actually prefer if they are 5-10 minutes late, as opposed to 5-10 minutes early. I get really annoyed, though, when a guest knocks on my door 20 minutes early when I’m in the process of getting ready to host a party.

        • AliB

          It seems that we all have different thresholds regarding lateness and early-people find late-people extremely annoying to the point of disrespectful – they place high value on timely-ness.

          I just want to say that late-people find early-people annoying too – as a few comments mention – early can be disrespectful when you are trying to get ready or when it means lack of flexibility – sometimes there is really no need to pin things to a time.

          For example, if an early person says they want to get the 9am bus it will totally stress them out to not get it – so they will be there 10 mins early – if a late person says they want to get the 9am bus they will aim to be there 2 mins before and there will be a small risk of something happening that means they get there 2mins late and have to get the 9.15 bus – this is not the end of the world – it doesn’t matter!! In fact the late person has probably already factored it in as a possibility – both people end up waiting about 10 mins.

          If these two people wanted to travel together I can see that both would be equally annoyed by the other person’s attitude.

          • Agnes

            My experience is that the late person has not considered the possibility of a later bus or anything similar, because if it’s a backup plan, the backup plan quickly becomes plan A.

    • MJ

      AliB, I was reading through everyone’s comments hoping to
      find someone who felt the same way! I am just like you. I am often chronically
      late by choice because I don’t like being early. Before I get ready to attend
      something, I imagine what it would be like if I showed up early. If I know I will
      have to wait once I get there, or maybe feel uncomfortable being the first one
      there, I wait longer before leaving. It’s a personal preference and works well for me.

    • Barbara

      I like and respect the “rebel” in you! Personally, I always give people time to show up and don’t take offense that they are a little late. After all it gives me more time to prepare or do other things. I hate getting to places early and then have to wait. Especially some doctor’s appointments. I understand that things happen. Also, I really have a hard time understanding people who are very early to everything they go to – even when you’re on vacation! This defeats the purpose of having a good time! In today’s world, there are too many demands on our time as it is. No I don’t think that my time is more valuable than the person who is always early. I would hope that we have a genuine reason to be together and can meet in the middle halfway! It is counterproductive to think that you think that your time is worth more than my time. But I don’t want to made to feel like a kid who has done something bad and should receive punishment for it.

  • Maxi

    Yes! Lateness is really a respect issue – respect for others that their time is just as important as my own and self-respect – wanting to be treated with thoughtfulness because my time and my life are equally valuable.

    I agree that lateness is a real broken window issue: I’m usually careful about time so when I find myself running late I ask myself why on an issue level. Am I secretly annoyed at that person (maybe a family member) and want to show it? Do I actually dislike that person/event? Am I looking to be center of attention at a gathering since my late entrance will hold things up or disturb others (and don’t kid yourself that slipping in late to a class isn’t noted and annoying). Do I really want to avoid that appointment or am worried about some aspect of it – this is usually the hidden reason for lateness at my doctor appts for me.

    There’s always a reason why I have allowed myself to be late and if I look it’s not hard to uncover it and act based on that truth. What do I need to do about that annoyance, dislike, narcissism, fear? It’s very freeing!

    I agree and am convinced people who are chronically late and think that’s acceptable or even “smart” since the are factoring in other’s delays are really just arrogant. It’s always all about them. MY time, MY flexibility, MY important activity that held me up. It’s never OUR agreement, OUR appointment, OUR equally busy lives.

    I have a friend who thinks her lateness is an adorable little quirk of hers (she says with a laugh, “it runs in my family!”) and that we should all be be amused by ever waiting for her. There’s always a “reason” but even tho I love this person it has definitely colored by feelings about her and desire to include her in events.

    • Anna

      Exactly – I also have a couple of friends who think their lateness is “an adorable little quirk” and sadly, although they’re otherwise lovely people, it has made me much less likely to initiate activities with them – the amount of time spent waiting around for them “colors my feelings” about them as you put it, and not in a good way.

    • phoenix1920

      Why do people snap to judgments and assume a person must be arrogant simply because they don’t have a shared trait? Perhaps it’s because I have a husband who literally has NO concept of time–as to anything–and I still have no idea how to help him understand that concept. (He will be late without help; he gets lost in thought; he can’t tell when 10 minutes is up; he can’t estimate the time a project will take; etc)

      I completely understand that this is an annoying trait and it may affect whether you chose to make plans with that person (just like you are less inclined to make plans with a friend who has other annoying ticks/traits, like laughing too loud, etc). However, I don’t understand why a trait would color your feelings toward that person. It would like thinking a person is uncaring simply because that person is shy.

      If this person is a friend you love, is it possible to simply be direct and tell them that their tardiness really bothers you and makes you feel ___?

      • Ann

        I have often used a “logical consequences” attitude with my husband, as with children. Let him pay for his behaviour , not you. Go without him or let him miss something important, etc. Sometimes you have to show someone, because they don’t listen to your words.

        • phoenix1920

          Thanks for the suggestion, Ann! This doesn’t really work for people who are missing this skill/ability. Dh lost every single one of his prior girlfriends because of this, so he has felt the consequences. I feel like it would be like punishing an illiterate because he can’t read–one needs to have a sense of time to be able to understand time. When I work late, I literally have to call him to ensure he remembered to feed the children dinner because he doesn’t realize he’s been home for 3 hours. As to appts, I have found timers on his cell/Outlook are helpful.

          • cruella

            I feel for you, I know exactly what you’re talking about, having a teenager without sense of time passing. He was diagnosed with ADD a year ago, and with that quite a few riddles were resolved. ADD or not, there are strategies to help, but “paying for consequences” really is not one of them. Planning ahead, setting timers etcetera is more helpful. Have you seen a device/app that is a visual timer, counting down diods with seconds or whatever? Can be a very helpful tool in learning your body/head to keep time.

      • Anne

        Thank you for saying this! My husband is the same way. I totally agree with your statement (below) that making him “live with the consequences” is unfair. If he’d had a brain injury that caused exactly the same problem, people would think a was really mean to do that to him. As it is, it drives me batty sometimes but it’s still not his fault and he’s not going to learn from consequences…he learns by me gradually teaching him techniques for dealing with it. Sometimes I’m the critical one, but it’s still annoying to hear judgements on people who have a genuine disability (even if it isn’t a recognized one…but it’s definitely disabling…time blindness)

  • KJ

    I spend a lot of time and energy trying to be just the right amount early – usually 5 or less minutes – which is really hard to do given all the variables I can’t control. Realizing I’m doing this helps me tell myself it’s ok to be earlier and relax about it. I’m also always trying to do one more thing. My favorite thing lately that helps a LOT is to figure out how much time I need to get ready, add 5 minutes and set an alarm on my phone for that time. Then I can just do whatever I’m doing and not have to watch the clock. The extra 5 minutes gives me the procrastination time I seem to need to make the transition.

  • PolarSamovar

    #8 has always been it for me. I have no problem arriving on time to any event I’m genuinely looking forward to. But a job I’m unhappy with, or a social event with people I’m not really crazy about, I become chronically late. It’s often my first sign that I need to reexamine the work or the relationship.

    If I am looking forward to an event, I automatically calculate how long I need to prepare, plus drive time, etc. If I’m not looking forward, I tend to not want to think about the event, and thus don’t put in the thought required to arrive on time.

  • msps

    I added two comments and I see in Disqus that they are flagged “marked as spam” and they don’t appear here. Disqus help says contact site moderator. How do I do that?

  • Lindsey Pence

    On another note, I am chronically way ahead of schedule. I grew up in a household that always arrived to things at least 10 minutes ahead of schedule. There were always some advantages to our ‘promptness’. For example, we always got the pick of the good seats at movie theaters, we always avoided the rush at the restaurants, we always made our flights.

    The disadvantage is how others view their promptness. When I was first living on my own, and would show up to everything early, I would end up waiting and then (because I live in an area where people are chronically late) would end up waiting even double the time because they would be late. This was very frustrating to me, and I ended up creating a story in my mind that someone did not value my time enough to show up when they said they would. I have since struggled with the concept of the value of someone’s time.

    The way I dealt with this at first was the three strike rule – if someone didn’t show up on time, or around the time of our appointment, and they do it three times, I wouldn’t schedule anymore appointments with that person. I ended up losing a lot of valuable relationships because of this rule. I have learned that there are people who do not value the importance of ‘being on time’ as a priority the way I do. Being on time for me means, spending more time with someone I care about. But maybe being on time for them means doing everything in their power to get there, even if it means being 10 minutes late, and still having an enjoyable time.

    I have since remedied my three strike out rule and have come to learn that A. I still like being on time – it makes me happy to know the lay of the land, but have had to learn to just be, instead of getting frustrated, B. Adjusting my expectation that just because someone else is late, doesn’t mean that meaningful things can’t happen, or that they care less for/about me, and C. Understanding that there will be things that get in the way of someone not being able to be on time…and being considerate of how they prepare to make appointments.

  • Deb

    While not chronic, I tend to run a little on the late side. I also don’t mind waiting for others who might be a little late (an unexpected 5 minutes of down time – great). It seems way more stressful to be so worried about being on time that you are chronically early, than to be a little more casual and occasionally late. But then, I’m a Questioner and you are an Upholder, so I would say that, wouldn’t I. Upholders seem to suffer a lot trying to meet those inner and outer expectations in the eyes of us Questioners!

  • Bliss149

    After being chronically late for years, I am now an on time person but I WORK AT IT!

    I have to sit down and work backwards from what time I need to be somewhere to figure out when everything needs to happen so I can be on time. Like today, I needed to be at a meeting at 11. But before that I needed to drive over to a supplier’s place and pick up some stuff then take it to my warehouse. So I have to figure out what how long each of those stops and the drive time is going to take and work backwards to know what time I have to get in the shower and what time I have to walk out the door. I’ve finally learned to sit down with a piece of paper and WRITE IT DOWN. Like this….
    11:00 arrive at Kathryn’s
    10:30 leave warehouse
    10:15 arrive warehouse
    9:50 leave supplier
    9:25 arrive supplier
    9:05 leave house
    9:00 load car
    8:30 Fix mom’s food
    7:45 get in shower

    SO! At 7:45 sharp, I’ve got to stop answering emails or whatever I’m doing. Usually I set an alarm on my phone because I get involved in what I’m doing and I’ll look up and it’s 8:15 and the whole schedule is blown. It’s just SO easy for one little thing like that to go wrong so I do try to build in a margin for error now.

    It’s really hard for me. The hardest thing is MAKING MYSELF SIT DOWN AND FIGURE IT OUT. But I got sick of the stress I put on myself driving like a bat out of hell trying to get places and calling and saying I’m going to be late all the time. I just decided I had to stop doing that to myself. I don’t think it’s good for one’s health.

    But even though I am now almost always early, I still think it’s just ridiculous how much people hate on folks who are late. Yes, some are disrespectful of other people’s time. But some of us just get distracted or make errors in judgement. I know it’s frustrating to wait on people but man can “on time” people be a self righteous bunch.

    • Gillian

      Congratulations on finding a system that is now working for you.

      Allowing yourself to be distracted or make errors in judgement all the time IS disrespect. Once in a while is completely forgivable but if it happens all the time it shows you just don’t care and consider your time more important than that of others. It is more than a frustration having to wait for someone. It is a waste of your own time; it can cause you to be late for another commitment or to not have time to do something else you had planned. It often means you can’t get engaged in something else because the other person could show up at any time. If you are meeting someone for dinner, it can be very annoying to be sitting alone in a restaurant for half an hour waiting for your dining partner; you need only so long to study the menu.

      The way you do it now is the way most people arrive places on time – they work backwards from the required arrival time and add in a contingency. We don’t always do it as formally by writing it down but we still do it.

      I am on time for most things. In some cases, if I know it isn’t critical to the other person, I might relax a bit. The big exception is when I was working – I was consistently 10 to 20 minutes late for work – it became a joke in the office. I liked my job but getting out of the house by 7:50 was simply more than I could handle. Fortunately, my lateness very seldom affected anyone else and I always more than made up the lost time. The joy of retirement – the leisurely mornings.

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  • Sue Harris

    I am someone who likes to be on time, I often arrive a little early rather than late. I understand not wanting to be the first to arrive, but I also think it is rude and inconsiderate to keep others waiting more than 10 minutes. My personal pet peeve is people who arrive late to a concert or play and then climb over everyone else to get to their seats. Many places refuse to seat someone who arrives after a concert or play has started and frankly, I applaud that policy. When I’ve paid a lot of money to see an orchestra performance or special show, I am not happy to have a late comer inconveniencing a whole row (and the people behind that row) so they can be seated after the program has started.

  • anonymous

    I find it disheartening to see how many people have come to this post to complain about chronically late people. The article is aimed towards people who would like help with this issue in their life, because they know it is a problem, they know it upsets other people – it’s likely something they hate about themselves and that they’d like help changing. It’s discouraging to acknowledge that you have an issue you’d like help with, seek out information and find comments full of people saying how much they hate your issue.

    There are 8 tips offered, and one of them is that the person may not have considered how it affects people. This is a valid complaint and absolutely something to consider. But there are 7 other factors (and perhaps more) that people are dealing with and to say that people are only ever late because they are being inconsiderate is… inconsiderate?

    There are times in my life where I’ve been inundated by things out of my control – family disasters, home disasters, work disasters etc. and my life totally spun out on me and one of the things that stressed me out the most was that I completely lost my ability to schedule my life. I was pulled in so many directions and there were so many things that needed to be done that I was living in a constant state of lateness. My heart sinks to think that friends of mine would have said the things that you are saying – that I was arrogant, inconsiderate and disrespectful when in reality I was struggling to keep my head above water and wanting desperately to make time for the people I cared about in the midst of total chaos. I’m not trying to offer a sob story or an excuse. I know that there are times when the issue is disrespect or inconsiderateness. But there are other times when we need to extend grace to one another and try to understand what issues people may be dealing with – whether they’re early, or late.

    • Courtney

      Thank you – I agree. I am a chronically late person and it’s not a source of pride, rather a source of shame. To hear that people constantly assume you are disrespectful or arrogant does more harm than good. It’s a habit that I continue to try to improve since it stresses me out to be late, but at the end of the day I know my internal clock functions differently than others. I think it would be more helpful not to jump to judgement and personalize that the late person doesn’t care – they aren’t bad or good, just different. Extending grace for our differences is a huge relationship builder.

  • LilMsInformed

    A friend once put it to me this way, “if you are on time, you are late.” You wouldn’t dare show up at the airport 2 minutes late and expect anyone to be OK with it. Why should you think it’s ok to show up at Church during the 2nd reading? Show up. Early. Every time. So that the willies have time to work themselves out. People keeping you in meetings? Start walking out, precisely when you say you will. Start living by other peoples’ clock instead of your own selfish one.

  • Dana

    Ha. You learn to be early when you work in a job that will literally fire your ass if you’re five minutes late. If it was really important, you’d take the steps to be on time. My boyfriend has a terrible sense of time, so when he absolutely MUST be somewhere at a certain time (catching a plane, for example), he sets three different alarms – one to tell him to start getting ready, one with a ten-minute warning before he has to leave, and one when he actually does need to leave.

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  • Gina

    This is a good article. I’m a “I can do one more thing” person. I’m going to try your tip.
    I also struggle with something similar to the people who don’t end the meeting on time. I frequently will chat for a few minutes with my neighbor at the bus stop after the kids get on the but. As much as I like talking to her I find if I have to go somewhere at a certain time in the morning, I have to try and avoid her. She has no consideration for other people’s time. Once we start talking, I will frequently said “ok, well I”ve got to go” and start walking away but she will say “Oh I just have to tell you one last thing” and keep me there forever – frequently making me late (sometimes very late!) On the other hand, when she has to go somewhere, she will drive to the bus stop and not get out of her car, not say hello or good morning to anyone so she can get on her way So annoying!