Plan any event and chances are one in five of the people you invite will be late.
A study done at San Francisco State University found that about 20% of the U.S. population is chronically late—but it’s not because they don’t value others’ time. It’s more complicated than that, says lead researcher Diana DeLonzor.
“Repetitive lateness is more often related to personality characteristics such as anxiety or a penchant for thrill-seeking,” she says. “Some people are drawn to the adrenaline rush of that last-minute sprint to the finish line, while others receive an ego boost from over-scheduling and filling each moment with activity.”
In her book Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged, DeLonzor says our relationship with time often starts in childhood and becomes an ingrained habit.
“Looking back, you were probably late or early all of your life—it’s part physiological and part psychological,” she says. “Most chronically late people truly dislike being late, but it’s a surprisingly difficult habit to overcome. Telling a late person to be on time is a little like telling a dieter to simply stop eating so much.”
DeLonzor says the majority of people have a combination of late and punctual habits—usually on time, but with a frantic rush at the last minute—but we can all learn from those who are chronically punctual. DeLonzor shares four traits that always on time share: