10 Ways Science Helps You Understand Serial Latecomers
May 05, 2016 12:17
Waiting for someone to arrive is the one of the worst things someone can do to you. But in no surprising news, being late has always been a chronic problem that's been hard to solve, and will probably always happen to you.
Being tardy is akin to verbally being rude to someone, but without actually saying any words to hurt them. Here’s how we can use science to understand why some people are always more-so late than others, all the time. Perhaps then, we could be more forgiving.
10. There are morning people and evening people
Turns out, there’s a perfect explanation for why some people are early and some are late to work, and they are described as “larks” and “night owls.” Backed by research, scientists found that your genes predispose you to being a person who is either more active in the morning, or more active in the wee hours of the night.
People with the “Night Owl” gene tend to be able to stay up longer than those who are more active in the morning. The midnight oil burners are more alert and get more things done during the night, with the tradeoff of having less sleep compared early birds.
This doesn’t necessarily make either type better than the other, and any performance review should be benchmarked against KPIs and results rather than the time they arrive at their desk. Though, it wouldn’t hurt if they’d at least respectfully come at the start of the official work hour.
9. Blame it on your circadian clock?
Been binging on Netflix for the past several nights? Here’s a fair bit of warning: you might be causing havoc to your circadian clock. That in turn, will mess your entire waking up schedule. You might end up waking up late, or worse, not in the right state of mind.
Your circadian clock is your all-natural body’s way of telling you when to go to sleep and when to wake up. Practice and stick to a certain schedule long enough, and you’ll find yourself waking and sleeping at close to specific near times. But when you disrupt that cycle, your body’s clock also gets a bit off.
The good news is that you can reset it back to normal, and all you need is a couple of nights sleeping at the same time. While you can’t exactly catch up on sleep, you can at least regain a normal routine that’s not sneered by others when you arrive late.
8. Their rooms are not conducive for sleep:
The conditions for good sleep are pretty simple to follow. They involve not looking at your smartphone, and general darkness - enough to tell your body it’s about time to get some shut eye. While scientists still can’t figure out why we actually need sleep, we at least know its effects: it is a process that’s vital to help us retain declarative memories.
This gets messed up when your room itself is an insomnia chamber of sorts. Light coming from another room, or from the window, can unconsciously signal your body to pay attention and not sleep at all.
Good sleep requires those conditions, so your body can start producing melanin which helps repair your body, less you look like an extra on the set of The Walking Dead the very next morning.
7. Psychological issues - procrastination, lacked self control
People who have chronic procrastination issues are late for everything. From paying the bills, to showing up on time, researchers believe that his is actually also an emotional strategy for dealing with stress.
The rewards of procrastination somehow make people with it feel good to put things off. They believe that while it isn’t actually linked to perfectionism, it is more likely they give in to impulsiveness, and act on their urges instead of prioritizing what’s more important.
They are, unfortunately, unable to see how their choices and behaviors affect timely issues. While it could be due to more deep seeded matters, a change of attitude isn’t as simple as it sounds. And it’s not something everyone can understand. Acknowledgement is the first step in addressing the problem.
6. You could be a "flexer"
Flexers are a group type of people who put too much on their plate - more so than they can actually handle. They try to get as much work done in as little time as possible, and in doing so, underestimate just how much time it will take them.
Not being able to manage time properly in this aspect will result in lateness. These type of people eventually lose track of time while they get carried away trying to finish up multiple tasks. They end up not being able to manage their own expectations.
When flexers are in the zone, their assumptions get the better of them. They leave no room for insurance or hiccups, and end up doing rushed jobs with no proper attention to detail. Don't be a flexer. Have a realistic estimation of how long certain things need to get done.
5. They may have "different definitions of "on time."
It’s hard to understand the psyche of a serial latecomer. And before we tag them with labels of no respect for time, it could very well be that they have very different definitions of what being “on time” actually means. According to a report, this type of people actually feel time pass differently.
These people might think that being five minutes late is acceptable, but the person waiting might not. This explains how they manage their time and how they decide when is the best time to get going to a designated meeting point.
As frustrating as this sounds, most latecomers tend to apply being slightly late as acceptable, as un-impactful to the experience thereafter, and an easily forgettable and forgivable slip up.
Interestingly, this isn't the same as how athletes perceive time slower than the rest of us and should not be confused as that. After all, have you ever heard of a sportsperson arriving late?
4. Blame it on habits (multitaskers)
No human can actually multitask. In fact, the brain wasn’t built to do this. A 2003 study found that those who prefered multitasking were often, or always late for appointments or jobs. The reason for this is because multitasking makes it harder to have metacognition.
It is basically being aware of what you’re doing. Similar to flexers, these “Type B” personality traits take on too many things at once, and do not have a good sense of time management, while not knowing for sure just how long each task will take to complete.
What’s even more ironic is that while most people think they can multitask, they are in fact - the least capable of doing so effectively.
The only difference with flexers is the time of which they take up multiple tasks at any point in time. Where flexers carefully plan their time for tons of tasks, multitaskers are constantly having everything on their plate all at once.
3. You are an optimist
The cup is half-full sort of person will always assume and believe that they have enough time to get to a destination, even if it is just 15 minutes before the meeting time. Science has figured out that being an optimist can be linked to one of the reasons why you’re chronically late.
What’s even more frustrating is that this type of personality doesn’t intentionally want to be late. Just being inherently hopeful that you’ll always have enough time is enough to make you a latecomer.
On the flipside, people who are optimistic about everything seem to be more productive, and creative in the workplace. At the very least, it’s a good tradeoff of sorts. Perhaps it's a forgivable trait after all?
2. Opportunity cost
Another way to understand a serial latecomer is how they view opportunity costs. Barring the respect for your time attitude, they view certain scenarios and conditions and weigh them with certainty to divide and allocate their time to.
Knowing you’re not of consequent importance, and their late-arrival having no grand impact on the experience of the meeting, they do this. There is an opportunity cost associated with getting somewhere early. Just as someone else’s time is valuable and you want to respect it to be punctual, so too is your time valuable and you'd rather use it productively than wait around inefficiently.
Economists explain it as a way to identify which item gets pushed into a non-priority list. But unlike in business sense, you might be treading on a fine line of rude.
Needless to say, using this as an excuse for being late isn’t one of the best kinds. And not one most would admit to.
1. They simply just don't think your time is as important as theirs.
Simply put, people in this group type don’t feel as if your time is as important as theirs. Thus, they become the anti-early birds, who hate the uneasiness of having to wait for someone else.
They subscribe to the general idea that being slightly late is acceptable, and since most people are anyway, why can’t they too maximize the value of their time? This fear, can actually be psychologically explained, which posits how you think people would judge you for arriving on time.
But more so than that, it’s probably more important to have someone have a high regard of you for respecting their time than being fearful of how they’ll think of you for arriving on time.
Either that, or they feel that arriving early affords them the benefits of complaining, of which there really isn’t much value in it.
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