Why some people are always chronically late

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Someone always shows up late, whether it’s to work, a party, or another kind of event. They might call it being fashionably late, but when it happens all the time, it’s more a nuisance than anything. In certain situations, not arriving on time isn’t a big deal, but there are instances where that kind of behavior needs to stop. If you always show up late to work, it could get you fired. Why, though, are some people chronically late, despite the potential consequences that await them?

Concept of time

One of the reasons why some people are always later than others is because they have a poor concept of time. What they might consider five minutes is actually ten, and so without the use of a clock, they make poor estimations about when they need to leave.

A 2016 study analyzed this by giving participants an engrossing task to do in a set amount of time. Although the subjects were able to check the clock while doing this, the tasks were so engaging that most people forgot to look regularly. Once the experiment was completed, it was clear that some participants had a better concept of how much time had passed over others. These were the ones who still managed to complete the task within the set time, and who adjusted their behavior to ensure it got finished when the time was running out.

Self-destructive behavior

Another reason why people might be chronically late is that they display self-destructive behavior. This is where someone intentionally does things they know will have a bad effect on them, but they can’t stop it. Frequent tardiness leads these people to punish themselves for their actions, yet they’re unable to make themselves show up on time day after day. It creates an endless cycle that’s hard to break out of.

Lack of self-discipline

Alternatively, their lateness could be the result of a lack of self-discipline. In these instances, people are aware that time is getting away from them, but they’re too engrossed in what they’re doing to stop. Unlike those with a bad concept of time, these people know when it’s time for them to leave. However, the level of enjoyment they’re experiencing outweighs what they expect to feel once they go out, so they keep telling themselves “just five more minutes” as the clock ticks on.

Depends on the situation

A lot of the time, it depends on what the person is frequently late for as to why it happens. Someone who is regularly showing up late to work is likely to do so because of one of these reasons, but the case could be different if it’s a party. In this situation, a person might frequently arrive late because they don’t expect anything exciting to happen until the party is in full swing. There’s also the consideration that showing up on time is seen as a “social faux pas,” and that there’s nothing worse than being the first one to arrive at a party.

In other cases, such as being late to a lecture, someone might revel in the attention they receive by not showing up on time. Even if it lands them in trouble, this rebellious streak makes them stand out amongst their classmates, and ensures that everyone knows who they are. This attention seeking behavior might not too big an issue while still in school, but it can be a big hindrance when it comes to working. Bosses look for a lot in prospective employees these days, and punctuality is up there as one of the most important qualities a person can have.

Being late isn’t the end of the world. Most of us have probably been late to at least one thing during our lifetime – it’s not a big deal. Once the issue becomes chronic, though, that’s when you need to find a way to deal with it.

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