TIME human behavior

Always Late? How To Be On Time — For Real

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Clock divided into serveral pieces Oliver Cleve—Getty Images
Before writing her book, Never Be Late Again, management consultant Diana DeLonzor was always, always late. “It didn’t matter what time I got up. I could get up at six and still be late for work at nine,” she recalls. She was reprimanded at work, lost friendships, and her timely husband was always mad at her. She couldn’t stand being late, yet she just couldn’t change.RELATED: Are Your Habits Bad for Beauty? “Most people really hate being late and have tried many times to fix it,” DeLonzor says. “Punctual people misunderstand. They think you’re doing it as a control thing, or that you’re selfish or inconsiderate. But, it really is a much more complex problem than it seems.”In a study she led at San Francisco State University of 225 people, she found that about 17 percent were chronically late. Among them, there were clear patterns. Late people tended to procrastinate more, demonstrated trouble with self-control (were more prone to habits such as overeating, drinking too much, gambling and impulse shopping), showed an affinity for thrill-seeking, and displayed ADD-like symptoms — restlessness, trouble focusing, and attention issues.“People who are chronically late are often wrestling with anxiety, distraction, ambivalence, or other internal psychological states,” says Pauline Wallin, Ph.D., a psychologist in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

Jeff Conte, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University who has studied lateness in the workplace, says that there are deep-rooted personality characteristics at play, making lateness a very difficult habit to break. DeLonzor quips that telling a late person to be on time is like telling a dieter not to eat so much. “If it were that easy, we wouldn’t have Weight Watchers.”

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With the right approach, however, the eternally tardy can change their ways.

What Kind of Late Are You?
The first step toward timeliness, says DeLonzor, is self-awareness. Sit down and go over your history and patterns. Are you late to everything or just some things? How do you feel when you’re late? What causes you to run behind?

Julie Morgenstern is a professional organizer and productivity expert. When meeting a new client she always starts with the same question: Are you always late by the same amount of time or does it vary? If it’s always the same, that is indicative of a psychological hurdle. Maybe you’re afraid of downtime, or feel that you have to fit as much as humanly possible into your day (even if it’s not humanly possible). If you arrive late by 10 minutes to one thing and 30 minutes to another, the problem is likely mechanical. Your time management skills need work.

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DeLonzor describes seven types of late people. Most fall into the top three categories:

The Deadliner enjoys the rush of the last minute. She thrives on urgency and often claims to work best under pressure. Sometimes it’s difficult for Deadliners to motivate unless there’s a crisis (even if that means creating crises of their own). Rushing from here to there serves as a way to relieve boredom.

The Producer needs to get as much done in as little time as possible. She feels better about herself when she’s checking things off a massive to-do list. Producers tend to engage in “magical thinking,” consistently underestimating the amount of time their tasks will take. They hate wasting time, so they schedule themselves to make use of every minute of the day.

The Absent-Minded Professor is easily distracted. Distractibility is thought to have a genetic basis and can range from full-blown attention deficit disorder to innocent flakiness. Absent-Minded Professors often lose track of time, misplace car keys and forget appointments.

People typically identify with more than one lateness personality. The other four are: the Rationalizer, who never fully admits to her lateness (many late people are at least one part Rationalizer); the Indulger, who generally lacks self-control; the Evader, who tries to control feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem by being late; and the Rebel, who arrives late to assert power (Rebels are usually men).

Let’s face it: Good intentions aside, it’s easier to hit the snooze than get out of bed and hit the pavement. So, whether it’s figuring out how to sculpt your body or finally learning how to carve out “me” time, the folks at YouBeauty have us excited to get sweating and stay on track.

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

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