Arriving late: What’s Really Behind It

I usually like people who are always a few minutes late. Because I belong to them myself. We late-comers always get ready for the last minute, because time has passed again – oops! – much faster than we thought. We don’t just squeeze ourselves into the already jam-packed tram car before it leaves in front of our noses. Why should we do this to ourselves?

The few minutes don’t matter either. On the way, we also take a quick look at the window design of our favorite flower shop, which is particularly successful today – where you are already there. Even if all of this means that we won’t reach our destination on time and that someone will have to wait for us.

This someone is often not at all enthusiastic about our strolling around. He often suppresses critical statements, but in principle he thinks we are undisciplined, disorganized, inconsiderate and only concerned about us. Is there something to it?

Are Late-Comers Selfish?

Some theories assume that people who are consistently late are arrogant or that their behavior is unconsciously rebelling against a social system that has established discipline and punctuality as virtues. Others say that unpunctual people have an excessive need for autonomy and see their personal freedom restricted as soon as they have a fixed point in time in mind. Even the search for the kick (can I make it on time or not?) Is given as a reason.

There may be something to all of this in different proportions.

One thing is clear: people who are notoriously late accept that they will take up the time of their meeting partner in a negative way. However, they are not doing this willfully.

Many late-comers believe, against their better judgment, with every appointment that they can make it without delay. However, you may not be putting as much pressure on yourself as some other people who are always a tad too early.

The fact that time regularly outsmarts those who come too late is in most cases also related to the fact that they perceive the duration of processes differently than people who are always on time.

The Psychology of Being late and the Feeling of Time

People experience the passage of time very differently. The speed of the internal clock is different for everyone, and as a result there are people with a slow speedometer. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Time-minded people do things as they see fit. Time-oriented people work off their tasks according to the clock. The latter tend to be on time, but sometimes the quality of the experience is lost. So we late-comers live more in the moment.

There are also other reasons that make people late. For one thing, people like me often underestimate how long things take. We don’t build enough buffers for scenarios in which everything doesn’t go as ideally as in our head. Our planning did not include the train running right under our noses. However, because these things happen, our timing is always too optimistic. Consequence: We are too late.

On the other hand, we loiterers often set off with delay because we are dissatisfied with our own productivity. Since we didn’t accomplish as much during the day as we wanted, we turn on the turbo at the last minute and try to work off at least enough so that we don’t suffer panic attacks during our appointment. Then we’d rather be 10 minutes late and then be on our date.

As absurd as it sounds, some are uncomfortable switching from one job to another and are therefore unpunctual. These people often get lost in a job and hate it when they have to interrupt it. It’s not that they have a problem with the upcoming appointment per se. They are simply absorbed in what they are doing and have a hard time quitting at a specific point in time.

Why it Pays to Be on Time

Coming too late can cause damage. It can risk friendships and financial loss (such as missing a flight). At the very least, it calls into question our reliability; in the worst case, you can get a warning from your employer if you are repeatedly unpunctual.

So it pays to work actively on your own time management and to follow strategies that help you to be in the right place at the right time. Last but not least, this also means that you arrive more relaxed yourself.

How to Be on Time

Now that we have understood that we, as late-comers, have a problem with realistic timing, I do not want to end the article without giving some tips that will personally help me to be on time.

  • Put the clock forward a few minutes. Even if you trick yourself with it, it still creates pressure when you look at the dial and see that it – oh dear! – is already so late.
  • Before and while driving, use a navigation program such as Google Maps to realistically calculate the time of the way.
  • Resolve to be early (rather than on time). Create incentives to show up early at the agreed meeting point. For example, by rewarding yourself with a delicious coffee beforehand. Or relax and browse for 10 minutes. With this resolution, we, the notorious late-comers with coffee, often don’t get it, but we just manage to be punctual!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here