Always late

Originally Published: April 25, 1997 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: September 19, 2008
Share this
Dear Alice,

I read many advice columns and have never seen this issue addressed before. I am always late for work, church, etc... I have always considered myself just not a morning person, but I'm basically late for everything. It drives everyone crazy!! What can I do to get out of this "habit," if I can call it this!! I do like my job, but just don't want to get out of bed, mostly because I just don't feel rested. So I get speeding tickets getting to work and now I'm afraid I may soon be getting in trouble at work!! Any advice would be helpful. I'm sure there are many other people like myself!! The worse part of this is how my mornings at work are ruined because I feel so bad I'm late and try to compensate for this, which just causes more stress. I'm worried that I will not get a good reference if I do move to a new better paying job! Thanks in advance for answering my question!!

Dear Reader,

Sometimes, people are late due to reasons that they simply cannot control like your car not starting, a family member being sick, traffic …you get the idea.  But if you find yourself being late more often than not, or more than you would like, you may want to ask yourself some quick questions.  Are you getting up on time?  If not, are you getting enough sleep at night?  Are you prepared to get out of the house to make appointments or do you find yourself doing things like checking e-mail or cutting your workout too close to the time that it is to leave?  Once you answer these questions, you may be able to find out why you are late arriving to places.  As soon as you know these reasons, you can then formulate strategies to correct this issue so that you can get to where you need to be on time. 

Improving your sleep and time management may aid in fixing your tardiness blues.  For example, you can play with your bedtime to see if going to bed earlier gives you more energy in the morning. Likewise, research has shown aerobic exercise, yoga, and meditation to put some spring in those otherwise heavy early-morning steps. Starting out earlier to compensate for procrastination and inevitable interruptions in your commute can help you get to where you want to be once you do get yourself out of bed. Lots of sleep-improvement, energy-boosting, and time-management strategies can be found in the Related Q&A’s listed below.

If these ideas don’t seem to work for you, it may help to consult a therapist to figure out the true origin of your problem with chronic lateness.  You may find that your tardiness is a way of acting out at your job or in your personal relationships.  No matter the root cause, working with a professional counselor may be the ticket to conquering your tardiness forever, if you find you cannot do it on your own.  Remember, this is nothing to be ashamed of as long as you are willing to take the necessary steps to get your life back on track.

The tips mentioned here, and the advice included in previous Go Ask Alice! answers may help, but are only a band-aid for some who forever feel that they are drowning in the sea of time. Time management is self-management; so, improving your on-time record will probably require you to figure out some short and long-term priorities and goals. It's never too late to remedy chronic lateness, and your question is an obvious indication that you are motivated to do so. Good luck.

Alice

September 11, 2008

21480
To the reader:

I used to have the same problem, but I would be late because I constantly underestimated just how long it would take me to get out the door and to class or work. I solved the...

To the reader:

I used to have the same problem, but I would be late because I constantly underestimated just how long it would take me to get out the door and to class or work. I solved the problem by setting an alarm on my phone or a timer 5-10 minutes in advance of when I would normally get ready to go. It's my cue to get my things and get out the door. It works well for me and it's helping me to establish good habits. I'm not late anymore so I'm less rushed and more relaxed and my professors and boss appreciate it, too.

July 1, 2005

20921
Hi Alice!

I have to say that your question caught my attention simply because I, too, am late to work. I usually am no later than 5 minutes late, but you would think it was 5 hrs by the way my...

Hi Alice!

I have to say that your question caught my attention simply because I, too, am late to work. I usually am no later than 5 minutes late, but you would think it was 5 hrs by the way my manager acts. I have a son with oppositional defiant disorder and never quite know what my mornings have in store for me. I do not think it is a big deal when one is late as long as they get everything done expected of them. I don't think it has to do with inconsideration for our coworkers, either. I do think that because we would not be mad at our coworkers for this, we expect the same understanding from them. There are too many other important things for people to worry about in this world.