Research indicates that personality differences could dictate how we experience the passing of time.
Jeff Conte, a psychology professor at San Diego State University ran a study in which he separated participants into Type A people (ambitious, competitive) and Type B (creative, reflective, explorative). He asked them to judge, without clocks, how long it took for one minute to elapse.
Type A people felt a minute had gone by when roughly 58 seconds had passed.
Type B participants felt a minute had gone by after 77 seconds.
Being consistently late might not be your fault. It could also be your type. The punctually-challenged often share personality characteristics such as:
- low levels of self-control
- a penchant for thrill-seeking
- People with anxiety diagnoses often avoid certain situations
- Individuals with low self-esteem may take more time to check their work.
- Depression often comes with low energy, making mustering the motivation to get a move on all the harder.
- Some persistent lateness comes from “an obsessive thinking problem.”*
- Some can “crave” the neurochemical thrill of being rushed.
If you are chronically late, here are some tips for getting a handle on your timing from Gretchen Ruben.
- You sleep too late. If this is the case, try to slowly get to bed earlier (a few minutes earlier each day). Many people do not get enough sleep and this is not good for your health, your mood or being on time.
- You try to do “one more thing” before you leave. Gretchen recommends that you outsmart yourself by taking a task with you, that you can do after you reach your destination. Then leave early. If you do have time on the other end, you will accomplish that “one last thing”.
- You underestimate how much time getting something done will take. If it is routine, like a commute or taking a shower, time it so you know how long it takes. And be sure to time the whole thing. I (Peggy) once lived with someone who said it took 10 minutes for a shower—not counting how long it took to get into the shower or to dress afterwards, which took at lease another 10 minutes. If you know, you can plan accurately.
- You can’t find what you need in order to leave: keys, sunglasses, something you need to take with you. Set up a place for things you need-purse, keys, and where you can put what you need to leave with for a particular trip as well. Use that spot every time (and if your keys are there, you will need to go there). Gretchen uses a backpack, which can hold several things and is big enough to find easily.
Gretchen Rubin in Psychology Today
Reference: Diana DeLonzor, author of Never Be Late Again.
*Dr Linda Sapadin, a psychologist and author of How to Beat Procrastination in the Digital Age
***Tim Urban, self-proclaimed late person and 2015 TED speaker.