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The Science Behind Chronic Tardiness and Procrastination

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Whether it be an annoying co-worker/ person or an assignment you just do not want to do, procrastination is a big factor on why we are late.
Source: MIKI Yoshihito | flickr

Are you always late to things? Whether it be to hang out with friends, working on an important assignment, showing up to class, or just going to work in general, more and more people are putting off important things. 

Is it because we feel like they are not important? Or maybe we do it unintentionally? There are many reasons for our chronic lateness, here a few you probably didn’t realize could be causing yours.

We Believe We Have All the Time in the World 

Contrary to popular belief, time doesn’t slow down when we are running behind schedule.  When we make plans or wake up late, we underestimate how much time it actually takes us to get ready. We believe that time will slow down and allow us to get ready and go to our destination on time. 

As Christina Morgana, a junior at Hofstra University says,

“I feel like I am usually late to something because I didn’t allow myself enough time beforehand or I don’t anticipate the amount of traffic I am going to hit.”

While Christina may be a college student, the reasons behind her lateness are nearly universal. Once we get into a specific routine, we get so used to how long the routine takes that we forget how long it  actually may take. And in a world that is constantly moving, a routine is nice to have even if it may make us late. 

You Dread Dealing with a Specific Issue or Person 

Another reason for your chronic procrastination can be because you dread dealing with a certain person or issue. Whether it be an annoying co-worker/ person or an assignment you just do not want to do, procrastination is a big factor on why we are late. 

Putting these things are not going to make them go away or make them any less annoying. You might not even notice that your dread is making you late. Or even that you are dreading anything at all.

Being late gives you more time to prepare to deal with the inevitable. Ultimately this strategy doesn’t usually work out all that well and you are left being late.

You Prioritize Other Things Than Being On Time 

Usually people are late in the mornings because they want to get as much sleep as possible. For good reason, as getting enough sleep is key to being a healthy adult. So you put off getting ready and going to work because you want to get the most amount of sleep possible. 

Madison Spence-Moore, another junior at Hofstra University said,

“I feel like the reason [I am late] is because I really like to sleep in the morning, so I try to stay in bed as long as physically possible. And then I leave out of my room very last minute. But in terms of things happening in the afternoon, it’s usually my phone or not planning ahead. I get very distracted by my phone unfortunately.”

So while sleep may be a top priority in the morning, tardiness for afternoon events are usually caused by distractions. In the age of smartphones, it is easy to see why they would provide distractions that prevent you from being on time.

Prioritizing other things over getting ready and making the effort to be on time is a primary reason behind chronic tardiness

There Are Outside Factors that You Cannot Control

 Sometimes it might not even be your fault that you are always late.  Your car can stall as you are trying to get to work. Your usual route can be distrubed by an accident or another commotion of that sort.

The weather can slow you down as well. You can also have a medical condition that makes you late. Eduardo Guzman, another junior at Hofstra University, has a medical condition called IBS, or Irritated Bowel Syndrome. 

He cannot control this condition but it does make him late to things occasionally.

“I have IBS so whenever that acts up it’s kind of crappy and I don’t feel that well. If I am having a pretty rough day, I need to be careful of what I eat because my sensitive, irritable bowel will take it a certain way. So sometimes it acts up when I don’t want it to act up,” Guzman said.

Guzman may be chronically late to things unintentionally because of his medical condition. There is not much he can do to control this particular reason behind his tardiness, so instead he focuses on what he can control. His disorganization, which is another big reason behind his procrastination.

Being late or procrastinating is something that everyone does, not just young people. Sometimes there are  psychological reasons behind your tardiness, other times outside factors make us late, and other times it is only our fault and our fault alone.

Whatever the reason is, just know that you are probably not the only person running late.