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Time Management Tips For People Who Are Always Late
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Time Management Tips for People Who Are Always Late

Have you noticed how some people are very content with always being late? They almost wear it as a badge of honour. ‘Oh I’m always late’ says a friend of mine with a smile, when she agrees to meet and then turns up anything from 20 minutes to more than an hour late. ‘I just can’t help it’. And because she’s funny and good company she tends to get away with it. However, it’s not much fun for the people kept waiting. Nor is it good if you have problems with meeting deadlines. It affects both you and other people and if unchecked will get worse. So here are my time management tips for people who have problems with lateness.

1. Analyse your lateness

Rather than just accepting your lateness as the norm and something you’re unable to do anything about, it’s important that you understand your lateness. Try asking yourself the questions listed below and see which resonate with you.

  • Are you late for everything or just some things?
  • Are you late for arriving at things or are you late for deadlines or both?
  • Why are you late?
  • How do you feel when you’re late?
  • What affect does your lateness have on your life?
  • How does your lateness affect your relationships with other people?
  • How does your lateness affect other people’s plans?
  • What do you get out of being late?
  • Do you want to improve your lateness?

2. Be honest

There may be many different reasons why you’re late but it’s important that you’re honest about your lateness. Being late is a choice that you make and the only way to change it is to accept that you need to change your behaviour and make different choices. If you’re honest with yourself you’ll recognise that your behaviour has a negative impact on other people and is ultimately selfish.

3. Stop using your behaviour as a control mechanism

You may not recognise it, but constantly being late is a way of manipulating and controlling situations at the expense of other people. It’s arrogant behaviour putting your own needs before the needs of other people. Ask yourself why you feel the need to do this.

4. Adopt time management strategies

If you’re going to overcome your lateness then you will need to adopt a range of strategies depending on why and when you’re late.

  • Commit to change: If you are serially late then you’re unlikely to change overnight. Adopting a new habit can be a challenge. However, if you really want to improve your time-keeping then you will need to commit to make changes and adopt strategies that will work for you.
  • Track a typical day: Keep a record of what you do in 24 hrs. It may be that it takes you longer to do things that you think. You may not have a ‘typical day’ but it’s a useful exercise to see how you’re spending your time.
  • Prioritise: Make sure that you’re not late for one thing because you’re spending too long on something else. Set your priorities and stick to them.
  • Say no: If you’re missing deadlines or you’re late going to places because you have too much to do, learn to say no.
  • Plan: It may sound obvious but you need to take specific steps to improve your timekeeping. Often when people have a problem with lateness it’s because they like to have flexibility in their lives and let things just happen. However if you want to overcome a tendency for lateness then planning your time more efficiently will help.
  • Set reminders: Whether you use an alarm clock, a kitchen timer or an alert reminder on your phone or computer, make sure that you are reminded of appointments you have. Try setting the time for an hour earlier than you would have to leave.
  • Avoid distractions: If you have to be somewhere at a particular time or you have to complete something to a specific deadline, make sure that you avoid distractions. This means doing things like turning off your phone, only answering emails at certain times of the day, putting up a do not disturb notice on your door or whatever else is appropriate.


Being a poor timekeeper over a long period of time will have a detrimental effect on your life. Never treat it as a joke if you’re often late because it’s no laughing matter. Make a commitment to making changes and establish new habits to better manage your life. With practice you will find that your time keeping improves. And once you get started you’ll probably find it easier than you think.

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