Social Question

Trustinglife's avatar

What is the mindset of the person who is never late?

Asked by Trustinglife (6663points) August 14th, 2009

I habitually leave things till the last minute and complete as much as I can before getting out the door. I often arrive exactly on time or a couple minutes late, while pushing it and feeling stressed the whole way.

I was wondering, What would it be like to go about things another way? If you’re always early, how do you approach things… What motivates you?

Are you afraid of people waiting for you?
Do you want to be at peace and not stressed?

Tell me all about your thought process, and how and when you get out the door. Thanks.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

45 Answers

Jack79's avatar

If you’re talking about deadlines, I also leave things until the last moment, but not too late. If it’s a meeting with another person (eg a date) I am always on time. I calculate how much time I need to get there, then leave a little earlier than that, and hang around. Sometimes I may be as much as half an hour early on the first run (eg a new job), but I’m never late. For me it has to do with respect for the other person and their time, which is just as valuable to them as yours is to you.

mattbrowne's avatar


jrpowell's avatar

If it is really important I will leave about 30 minutes before I really need too. I would rather sit on a curb with a book than be late.

I don’t drive so I take the bus for a lot of things. I usually catch the bus prior to the one I would need to catch and still be on-time. Sometimes the buses are early so I like to give myself some padding. And we have tons of bridges here. You never know when one will be raised to let cargo ships through.

se_ven's avatar

I’m usually early to most meetings/appointments and I think a large part of it is not wanting to be stressed like @johnpowell was saying. Also, I want to show the proper respect for the people I am meeting.

If possible I try to plan ahead and have everything prepared long before I would need to leave, or I would at least think through what I need to do to prepare. I then will leave with extra time budgeted in for whatever may happen. Some meetings/appointments can be stressful enough. I think it helps to be prepared and feel on top of things, and arriving early or on time is a big part of that.

dynamicduo's avatar

My mindset is twofold. One, it is a huge sign of disrespect to be late. By being late you are effectively saying your own time is more valuable than the time of the person waiting for you, you’re giving the message that you are more important than they are. Since I don’t think my time is more valuable than other people’s, I strive to be early. Second, I always have something to occupy my time (a DS, some knitting, a book), so I actually cherish being early because I have a few minutes to do an activity I enjoy doing while not burdening the person.

Of course, the elimination of stress is also a very great thing.

How and when I get out of the door: I’ve arranged things so that my keys and cellphone etc are in one place 100% of the time, that way I’m not scrambling to find them when I’m supposed to be leaving. I pay attention to how long it takes me to get from point A to B and usually add some buffer time to that. I also think about my day when I get up so that if I have any important tasks I do those well in advance so that I don’t have to do “just one more thing” when I’m supposed to be in transit.

whatthefluther's avatar

Reasonable planning and proper attention to the clock. See ya….Gary aka wtf

Quagmire's avatar

I’m ALWAYS early for everything, i.e., work meetings, movies, doctor’s appointments, haircuts, you name it. With me it’s a symptom of OCD.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

Argh… I feel like a lump of coal among diamonds.. I’m habitually late. I should keep all these answers here in mind to push me to be early…

pikipupiba's avatar

I HATE people who are late like every time for anything. I don’t like being a hypocrit, so I’m early. And I’m less stressed. And I can make sure I have everything I need. And if you are the first person there (for like gatherings of friends) then the next people who get there gravitate towards you and this just snowballs until you are the center of the party or whatever is going on. It feels really nice.

PapaLeo's avatar

This is an interesting question as it points to changes I’ve had to make in my behavior since moving here to the Netherlands.

When I was living and working in the US (California), punctuality was a virtue, but being late was also tolerated (to a certain degree). The northern Europeans, however, are punctual to a fault. It is taken very seriously. Being late is not only seen as a lack of respect, it is also considered extremely unprofessional. It’s a major friction point in intercultural exchanges. More southern cultures take the concept of time with much more elasticity: personal relationships are far more important than a clock, for example. The predominant minority groups in NL are from Turkey, Morocco and Indonesia. You can imagine what a culture clash occurs simply on the basis of punctuality.

As far as techniques, most here have already said it. My wife is Dutch and she’s helped me to change: allowing extra time for travel, setting a definite time to leave the house for an appointment (which is greatly assisted by the two large church steeples (one Catholic, the other Protestant) with clock towers on either side of my house), combining appointments and always allowing for sufficient travel time between them, etc.

AstroChuck's avatar

I don’t deal well with stress. My motivation to be on time stems from that. I would rather be 45 minutes early than 5 minutes late. I’m never late to work. That’s just me.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I am always motivated to be on time, and even early. If I say to a friend, “I’ll be at your house at 3:30 pm.” I will arrive at 3:25 pm just to be sure. I have a problem with tardiness. I get to work usually 15 minutes early, simply because there may be security alerts I need to know about, or there are things happening that I should be informed about. I do not like to be rushed. Like @AstroChuck, I have NEVER been late for work.

People that are habitually late or never on time strike me as unreliable, and I don’t want to associate with anyone I cannot count on. Habitual lateness is a sign of a disordered mind, or someone who simply does not care about punctuality. If you don’t care enough about my time (I have a life too you know) to show up when you say you are going to show up, then don’t bullshit me. I deserve more respect than that. Everyone deserves to be treated as if thier time is valuable. To do otherwise is we todd did.

Supacase's avatar

People who are on time are organized and respectful.

There are people who are late as in running in the door within 5 minutes of the appointed time. Those people are just a little disorganized, don’t plan for small things along the way and they don’t bother me so much. Slightly annoying when I am on a tight schedule, but nothing more. I don’t think they are intentionally disrespectful and I have found they usually are very stressed and apologetic about being late.

People like my mother in law are late by 30 minutes or more to meet at a restaurant or eat Thanksgiving dinner when she lives close by and isn’t so busy. She was 1½ hours late for Christmas dinner at her MIL’s because “Oh, I was doing some laundry” when really she was mad about the dinner. That kind of late is a control issue and pisses me off no end.

pikipupiba's avatar

@Supacase My aunt is the EXACT same way.

gailcalled's avatar

One of the three jokes I remember;

People who are early are anxious:
People who are on-time are compulsive;
People who are late are hostile.

JLeslie's avatar

My husband is like many here, will leave the house early, arrive early, and even wait oustide a building or someones home to be perfectly on time. I used to be on time, but then dated a guy for years who never was, we fought about for a couple of months and then made a rule, anyone within in 20 minutes of the scheduled time will be considered on time, and it never was an issue again. That habit of running a little late (not 20 min, but frequently 5 or 10) kind of stuck with me. I do think it is a matter of respect for other persons time, I am not late if someone is waiting for me out on the street or if it is a business meeting. I also hate to rush, just like the punctual people, so if there is some traffic on the way I am not going to speed like crazy to make up time, I’ll just call ahead and say I might be 5 minutes late.

My husband, the one who is not ever late, was raised in Mexico, and has worked in other arts of Latin America, and their disregard for punctuality takes some adjustment for him. I always say he should have been born in Germany, apparently the Netherlands might have suited him as well. In America, for obvious reason, you get all kinds, so you kind of have to gauge who you are meeting up and what the “norm” for the situation, but for the most part people expect you to be on time except for parties (this does not include wedding, barmitzvahs, baptism where you are meeting for the ceremony first, then you should be on time).

If I plan a party I want people to be 10 minutes late in case it took me a little longer than anticipated to get everything done. If you are early I am annoyed, maybe I have not put on my lipstick yet.

PapaLeo's avatar

@gailcalled I’m curious: will you ever treat us to the other two jokes?

gailcalled's avatar

@PapaLeo: One has a punch line in Hebrew, and the other one is about killing a bald eagle.

Sarcasm's avatar

I’m someone who hates to be late. Hell, I fear it.
I would rather be 20 minutes early than be 5 minutes late.
If I have to leave for an appointment by 10, usually by 9 I cannot get “Don’t be late” out of my head, can’t stop worrying, can’t stop checking the clock (to anyone who was curious about my reply in the Day Planner thread, this is how my magic works).

Why? I don’t know. I don’t fear any punishment. I know that being 2 minutes late to my German class won’t get me docked of any points. I know that my dentist won’t disappear into thin air. I know that my friends won’t leave without me. But I can’t get rid of the anxiety I have.

pikipupiba's avatar

I like to be able to take a detour if I need to.

Say I drive by Walmart on my way to an appointment or party or something, if I’m early, I can do what needs to be done NOW and NOT later.

JLeslie's avatar

@pikipupiba Now that answer is interesting to me. You don’t want to be late, but you don’t plan or think ahead of the errands you could run. Seems contradictory. I sometimes run late, but almost never decide once outside of the house that I might stop somewhere unexpected.

pikipupiba's avatar

That is the freedom that being early (like 30 mins to 1 hr early) gives you. It feels good and reduces stress alot.

JLeslie's avatar

@pikipupiba If I am very early I am a little annoyed that I stopped doing something I wanted to do to just sit around and wait.

pikipupiba's avatar

@JLeslie I guess I do have stuff I can do while I wait on me at all times (laptop with 3g, iPod Touch, etc.)

I won’t be 30 mins early to a doctor appointment (Maybe just 5–10), but I would be to a party or date.

JLeslie's avatar

@pikipupiba 30 minutes early to date or party? Or, you mean arrive early, but wait until the agreed upon time to actually knock on the door?

pikipupiba's avatar

No, My girlfriend and I are really comfortable with each other, so I will get there early, then hang out until she is ready.

I like to help finish getting the party ready and I usually bring hardware (Sound system, props, games, ideas and what-not).

JLeslie's avatar

@pikipupiba oh, so the people are kind of expecting you early, that’s different. You were starting to stress me out lol!

basp's avatar

I have a boss who is always late to meetngs. My theory is that she like to make the grand entrance and her body language shouts out, “I’m so important a whole room of people must wait for me.
It is so annoying that she is late but even more annoying that she has to manipulate situations to feel important.

JLeslie's avatar

@basp not nice. I think you might be right. Or, she thinks in her position she should not have to wait for anything, or maybe she is late to everything, or maybe she is insecure and can’t be the first in a room? Could be any of those. Either way not nice to consistently keep people waiting for you…she is abusing her position.

Jeruba's avatar

I absolutely hate to be late for things that have a set starting time. To me it is a matter of my own comfort. To arrive breathless, sweaty and flustered, with an apology on my lips, and create a conspicuous disturbance while I settle myself and whatever I’m carrying, without time for a drink of water or a trip to the bathroom, has absolutely no advantages over arriving calm and collected, having my choice of where to sit, settling all my arrangements, and gathering my thoughts well before the [meeting, concert, appointment, flight boarding, whatever] begins.

To me this is an entirely separate matter from doing things, such as writing reports, wrapping presents, cleaning house for company, or any other activity that has to be performed by a certain time. I procrastinate those, usually. It’s the late-arrival thing that I can’t stand.

OCD runs in the family. My father was compulsively early, and I think for him it was a matter of (a) not calling attention to himself and (b) not giving offense. I judged this from the things he said about people who were perpetually late for church. They earned his merciless muttered disapproval and scorn.

Oddly, in those days, I was typically late, too, and his scoldings did not speed me up at all. He called me “cow’s tail”—always the last thing to arrive. Despite the ferocity of his convictions, he was utterly unable to motivate me to start earlier. That shift did not come upon me until I was an adult and realized that I hated the feeling I had when I was late more than I loved any of the joys of dilly-dallying. It makes my stomach hurt.

I married a man who would not get ready early to save his life. When we go somewhere together, I dash around getting ready, and he dilly-dallies. The more I hurry up, the slower he goes; he said once that he thought it would help me to slow down and relax. I think my rushing around will help him get moving. So I am ready with plenty of margin, I wait-wait-wait, and then we take off in a lather and arrive sweaty and breathless, with an apology on our lips and me a little mad. We have not solved this in 32 years and never will.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba so I guess now you live your fathers life on this matter now. You used to dilly dally and it bothered him, and now your husband does it to you. I hate when that happens.

Jeruba's avatar

@JLeslie, and my son the dilly-dallier has grown up to be sharply punctual. I never badgered him the way my father badgered me. It’s all internal (as it is for me also).

Gee, thanks to your remark, now I wonder if my father was the cow’s tail when he was a kid. It’s a plausible hypothesis.

mowens's avatar

I am early to everything that doesnt envolve me waking up before hand. I am a deep sleeper, and alarms dont work. However, if I am already awake and alert, I am never late.

Sarcasm's avatar

@Jeruba if it makes you feel any better, my father always is (and always was) the last one ready for anything, my mother the exact opposite.
My brother and I followed in our mother’s footsteps. My sister in my father’s footsteps

YARNLADY's avatar

Like most other people here, I hate to be late. I have actually refused to go when my ride arrived too late. I would rather not go at all than be late.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I enjoy the calm of knowing I’m usually earlier than on time or late. This means I very rarely have to enter a place feeling scrutiny and it gives me time to catch and tie up some loose ends. I like have a cushion for the unknown because sometimes there is opportunity in that. Basically, I like maximizing my odds of coming into positive circumstances, whatever they might be and being earlier gives me options.

Trustinglife's avatar

It’s been wonderful to get all these answers – this is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks y’all! To summarize, you’re never late because:

1. You hate to be stressed out. You don’t want to rush, and you don’t want to be criticized for showing up late.
2. You feel it’s disrespectful to the person or group that would have to wait for you if you were late. Their time is as valuable as yours.
3. You like the freedom to do a few odd things in the time that being early affords you.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@Trustinglife: Showing respect is important to some, it is to me but many people feel showing that kind of respect is archaic and no longer has a place, too bad.

Jeruba's avatar

Nice summary, @Trustinglife. May I ask what you’re going to do with your findings? Are you trying to change your own habits?

To me one key is knowing how long things take me. One reason my husband is always late is that he typically underestimates how long something will take him. What he thinks is going to take him 15 minutes is actually going to take him half an hour. I know this, but he doesn’t. Also he is usually unwilling to stop doing something he wants to do for something he is obligated to do, so he puts it off. And finally, he simply does not define rudeness the way I do, so what makes me uncomfortable does not bother him.

pikipupiba's avatar

@JLeslie Sorry about that… Just go somewhere extra early to de-stress yourself. IT WILL BE OK!!!

Trustinglife's avatar

@Jeruba, mostly I wanted to understand. Personally, I’m usually on time when it really counts. Most of the social gatherings I go to are much more lax about punctuality. I still can get stressed out about it.

I hate waiting around for people. I would so much prefer being alone than just waiting amidst empty chatter (depending on the people, of course). I sometimes resist getting out of the house until I have to, and I put off getting ready to do so. Sometimes I like the pressure and adrenaline, frankly. Once I’m out, though, I usually enjoy myself thoroughly.

Jeruba's avatar

@Trustinglife, I feel exactly the same as you about my time and my preference for staying home. I usually have to be forced out by social pressure or a compelling commitment. When I do go, I can’t stand to add anything to my discomfort. Hence punctuality.

As for nonsocial activities, professionalism is also a factor.

Trustinglife's avatar

@Jeruba No wonder I like you so much! I think we must be quite alike.

scamp's avatar

Any less than 15 minutes early is being late for me. I hate being late! At the same time, I procrastinate right up until the last minute, so in that respect I am my own worst enemy. I don’t know why I do this, but it’s been my habit for many years now.

I even have the time on my alarm clock set 15 to 20 minutes early so I won’t wake up too late. I fool myself into thinking I am running late, and since I don’t allow myself to check the ‘real” time, I don’t know how far ahead I really am.

I am not a morning person, and a big fan of the snooze feature on the alarm.

crzycatwmn's avatar

keeping their jobs?

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther