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The bad habit of being late and 10 things you can do to correct yourself

Being late for work, being late for meetings with friends, being late for appointments all lead to the same thing: being seen as unreliable.

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You will surely agree with this statement: being punctual is a sign of respect and courtesy. Show that you have a sense of responsibility and that you take your obligations seriously. Although you may not have thought about this aspect: punctuality also reflects how organized and motivated you are. So it clearly speaks of your professional commitment, responsibility and empathy with other people.

By having the habit of being late, people will look at you as if you were inconsiderate. They may even think that you are late for everything. If this happens often, it can damage your reputation and affect your relationships with others.

Being late for work, being late for meetings with friends, being late for appointments all lead to the same thing: being seen as unreliable.

A very frequent behavior

Unpunctuality is a harmful behavior that many people have and consists of permanently transgressing their commitments to arrive on time to what was agreed; even when there are no valid reasons for not complying with the agreement.

It is also a very harmful manifestation of social coexistence, which hurts everyone: those who arrive late receive all kinds of consequences and even punishments - such as leaving them out of a tempting project; and the punctual feels cheated and abused in his confidence, and that he is disrespected.

Although there may be extraordinary situations in which a person cannot be punctual, it is considered a "behavior of lateness" when it is a constant, extended in time, and that the person invents all kinds of tricks and even inconsistent lies, because clearly he knows he is at fault.

The excuses and the reasons

In general, people characterized as unpunctual leave everything to the last minute; they are not aware of how damaging their behavior is to the environment; they blame their ancestors - as if it were an inherited trait; they victimize themselves saying they had a lot to do; Or, even worse, they excuse themselves by saying "it's not so bad to be 10 minutes late". Do you recognize yourself in any of this?

In many cases, rushed by circumstances, they begin to invent all kinds of excuses and lies, which time itself will unveil, further worsening their reputation.

Some additional possible reasons are:

  • Low self-esteem: the person thinks that his absence will not be noticed; or that their contribution is of little value.
  • He may have been a person relegated or neglected in childhood and for this reason he considers that it is not worth the effort to fulfill his agreements, since he feels that he has been subjected by "the social system".
  • It does not make the commitments it makes important or relevant.
  • Something of self-centeredness: thinking that being late will make you more important to others.
  • Rebellion: he fights with rules and wants to show that he does not care about the rules and that he lives according to his own laws.
  • Avoid communicating clearly: for example, someone who is always late for work may be hiding something greater, such as family violence, or job reluctance; although he is not encouraged to express it and translates it into unpunctuality.

They or them?

If we talk about who is more unpunctual among men and women, the statistics show that it manifests itself in equal parts. Only in the case of women, sometimes they purposely behave late in love dates, as if to mark ground and "make themselves desired", according to a report by the British consultancy GetMe There.


In another study conducted by the New York University School of Business, the United States generally concluded that late people are late, even though they are aware that such behavior will have consequences.

The main reason is that, on average, people in general tend to underestimate by 40% less how long it will take to complete a task, which already presupposes a significant lag in time management to fulfill an agreement.

In another study from San Diego State University, United States, he analyzed the behavior of 181 operators of the New York subway, and evaluated that people with a tendency to multitask were more unpunctual.

Neuroscientists stated that multitasking makes it more complex for the brain to process the mechanisms of so-called metacognition, the self-knowledge of what you are doing; so you lose a point of view of certain things, for example, the notion of the schedule.

And who are usually the most punctual?

In the same study, it was found that achievement-oriented people are more punctual and precise about results, while those who are more relaxed and calm are less aware of the benefits of being punctual. That is, for them it is almost normal to be lax in this regard.

What is also known is that lateness is influenced by different cognitive (knowledge) traits, experiences, and also psychophysical disorders. This is because time, as it is somewhat subjective in terms of its appreciation, is processed with internal and external variables. That is why the vision of time management changes according to age, culture, life experiences, personality, the mood of the moment, drugs that may be taken, the external climate and the environments.

Even the type of education received has an influence. For example, people who have had a rigid education tend to be less late than those who were educated without considering lateness as a problem.

The truth is that unpunctuality affects in multiple ways, since it undermines two essential components of human relationships: trust and credibility.

The impact of social networks, hyperconnection and stress

Other factors that can influence lateness are overexposure to external stimuli, such as social networks and being permanently connected, since they cause distractions and give the feeling that "everything important happens there, in that virtual world."

Another clear manifestation appears in large cities, where it takes a long time to move from one place to another. And here the unpunctual find the right excuse.

In any case, from the productivity aspect, there is nothing that deserves to be late, except in very exceptional cases.

And what about stress? Highly stressed people tend to be more late. The feeling of not being able to cope with everything a person wants to accomplish influences the development of time management and commitments, thus directly affecting productivity.

The other side is the case of very demanding people: they do not allow themselves to be late, and this leads them to schedule commitments without taking due space between one and the other. There appears a false sense of internal security that tells them "you can do everything", when perhaps not.

How does it affect our self-esteem?

Tardiness has a direct impact on relationships, and consequently, on self-esteem, since, for example, people become less trustworthy to their peers; they are objects of complaints, ridicule and are even put aside by this recurrent trait of behavior. This isolates and segregates them.

On another level, the unpunctual person shows a certain contempt for the time of others; and even arrogance for what he interprets as "it is his right" to be late.

If we analyze it from the workplace, arriving out of time discourages and demotivates those workers who are more committed to their schedule and the company.

Time to ask for help

In general, late people seek assistance only when they are affected by personal or professional ties that interest them. For example, if they have missed flights for being late and they are left without traveling for work or pleasure; or when they have lost relationships that had the potential to prosper and the other party abandons them due to lateness.

Given this, it is possible to re-educate behavior, from least to greatest, to begin to gradually adjust that permanent attitude and replace it with a better organization and time management system. Of course, these steps need the cooperation of the person, starting with taking charge of life - which includes their personal responsibility - and the consequences that their behavior brings.

10 keys to correcting lateness from now on

The best way to stop being late is simply by following these tips and practicing them daily.

First, become aware of the harm of missing your commitment to be punctual; and then implement these strategies:

  1. Divide the tasks into small portions , and record the day and time so that each circle of responsibility you have is complete. This will help you keep your focus in parts, without losing sight of the whole to be accomplished.
  2. Use creative visualization . The technique of internally visualizing the process of the tasks helps to organize the ideas, to mark the network of relationships involved and the importance you have in the process. In this way that image will appear while you execute it, and you will be more attentive to meet the deadlines.
  3. Make lists of tasks, actions and projects. Prioritize them and agree on your commitments taking that relevance into account.
  4. If you have a full schedule of commitments: start grouping them into certain hourly blocks of the week, to have more quiet time and space. For example, in my work as an executive coach, he taught managers to hold meetings in two or three days to have space for other issues to attend to.
  5. Learn to delegate. Don't pretend to do everything, as it is not humanly possible. Being late many times has to do with the impossibility of releasing responsibilities on other people. Remember to delegate to those you trust, supervise -instead of controlling-, establish compliance deadlines, and clearly explain the purpose of why it is important that this task is done in a timely manner.
  6. Use technological tools to your advantage : for example, there are many unnecessary meetings that can be replaced by a video conference that are already integrated into the daily routine. Other meetings may not exist, and would be solved with a short phone call or an email . Imagine all the time you will save. There are also many applications that work collaboratively to manage time in a team: find the one that is friendliest to you; And even, you can always go to the infallible paper agenda.
  7. Renegotiate if you are late . Without becoming a habit, if you know in advance that you will not arrive on time, notify or change the appointment.
  8. Use at least two alerts / alarms prior to each engagement . Program your mobile to notify you from the previous hour at least twice, spaced apart and with enough time to arrive on time.
  9. Take the rule of advancing your appointment schedule . If you are late, work on not overloading yourself until you regularize this harmful trend, and always schedule the different appointments 10 to 15 minutes before. If you don't, they will do the rest for you: if they catch you that you are late, they will always summon you half an hour before.
  10. Plan more separately . Do not accumulate commitments, especially if you have distances to travel. It is preferable to accommodate your schedule than to stand up to people, which speaks of you being an untrustworthy person.