The Suprising Relationship Between Chronic Lateness And Optimism


There was a woman in our group of friends who was always late. The movie would’ve already started and in she’d come. We got so fed up that we’d lie to her about when things started, just to get her the right place at the right time.

Of course, she turned the tables on us a couple of times, and got there way early. She’d sit at the bar with a drink chatting with a new friend and give us the what-took-you-so-long look.

I hate being late, yet I’ve been punished for my punctuality. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to wait outside of a restaurant or bar while I waited for my tardy friends.

So, when I read in Elite Daily that optimistic people share the character trait of lateness, I was skeptical. Apparently, chronically late people believe they can get more things done in a limited amount of time than other people, and enjoy multitasking.

Diana De Lonzor, author of Never Be Late Again, says that many late people can be divided into two categories: First, there’s the deadliner who is “subconsciously drawn to the adrenaline rush of the sprint to the finish line.” Then, there’s the producer “who gets an ego burst from getting as much done in as little time as possible.”

“Many late people tend to be both optimistic and unrealistic, and this affects their perception of time,” De Lonzor says.

There’s a little known concept called The Planning Fallacy which is a strong tendency to chronically underestimate the time a task will take to complete. The Planning Fallacy is one of the most difficult behavioral patterns to change.

But being optimistic has many health benefits, from reducing stress (don’t they feel badly about being late?) to diminishing the risk of heart disease, to strengthening the immune system. And if you have a cheerful outlook on life and are able to laugh about things rather than stress out about them, that increases your longevity.

Keeping a positive attitude helps with your work life, too. Happiness increases productivity, makes you feel better and more creativity, and you’ll get along better with others. People who don’t stress over the small stuff (like being on time) tend to concentrate on the big picture, and see the future as bright and open for possibilities.

Lateness may not be some kind of control struggle; rather, trying to get too many things done in a small amount of time, which is an optimistic feeling.

I don’t think latecomers being optimistic means that people who aren’t ever late aren’t hopeful in their own right — we just have a better sense of time.