The Surprising Benefits of Lateness

The Surprising Benefits of Lateness

Photo credit: The Guardian

Photo credit: The Guardian

Punctuality has never been my strong suit.

I was born two weeks late and things haven't changed much.

Yes there have been slight improvements. I do put a lot of effort into being on time, which I am a lot better at than I used to be, thanks in large part to my partner who is obsessively punctual.

I realise lateness can be taken as a lack of respect for the other person. I understand that, but it's not the case. It's not that I think my life is more important than yours. It's not even that I set out to be late. Punctuality is my aim, it just doesn't always happen!

It's just that I like to pack in as much as I can. If I have a spare 10 minutes I'll generally fill it with something.

BUT, I am learning not to fill these spaces and instead reduce what I think I can get done.

I will never be an uber punctual person, but I am slowly realising the joy of going a bit slower, cruising to an appointment... if not early, at least on time.

Now I am not proud of my tardiness and have been vilified for it my whole life, from my dear mum sitting on the horn waiting for me to get in the car and make a mad dash to catch a train... 

...To more than one boyfriend who fume any time I am 10 minutes late.

So I've always seen it as a problem I have. Certainly nothing positive about it. So why do I do it? And I know I'm not the only one, there are others of you aren't there. :)

So why is it that some of us struggle with lateness and others are punctual?

Well, earlier this week I came across an article written about those of us who are punctually challenged.

And you know what it said?... 

"People who are continuously late are actually just more optimistic. They believe they can fit more tasks into a limited amount of time more than other people and thrive when they're multitasking. Simply put, they're fundamentally hopeful."

And goes on to say that while us laties are poor at estimating time (which is so true, my inability to accurately allow enough time for my tasks perplexes my partner), it leads to a myriad of health benefits...

  • Reduced Stress
  • Lower chance of cardiovascular disease
  • Stronger immune system
  • Boosted longevity

Now for all you punctual types who are turning your skin inside out with frustration. Yes, yes of course I write this with my tongue ever so slightly tucked into my cheek... I know lateness is annoying, us laties aren't doing it on purpose.

And those benefits are a bit of a leap, they're actually the benefits of a positive frame of mind, and well, whilst I would like to claim them as mine, often I am in an absolute flap because I've tried to cram too much into a given time period and then stress all the way to an appointment, feeling terrible for being late. Pretty sure that's not going to extend my life.

And when I have managed to allow enough time for tasks and manage to be on time I do feel more relaxed and proud of myself. 

But to all you punctual Peters and Polly's can I make one request?

Please don't arrive early to the home of your punctuality-challenged friend. It will throw their world into chaos! 

So, what camp are you in? Punctual or tardy? Either way there are benefits!

p.s That article I referred to above also includes a really interesting discussion on the relativity of lateness from a cultural perspective... Germany vs Spain for example. Worth a read.




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