Why You Should Always Be Late

My dirty secret is that I fix an asterisk in the title of events where I know either myself or others will be late. Why do I do this? For sanity. The drill sergeant in my head barks orders like, “Don’t be late, jerk. It’s time to leave. Stop scrolling through Pinterest. Your mother didn’t raise you this way.” By the time I beat myself over the head enough to leave the house I’ve also grown a shiny sense of entitlement. Showing up at our meeting location 15 minutes early is an Act of God.

Guilty party speaking here: I’m not always the best at showing up on time for personal meetings. First hand I see the effects it has on myself and others. It took enough psychological effort to pull off an early arrival that the dictator persona is now active; Ready to deliver twenty lashings to any late-comers. That’s not fair to anyone else because there are great reasons for being late.

Adulting Is Tough: Love Your Late Friends

  1. Late people are time economists. We are fearful or anxious about arriving too early with nothing to do. Efficient people problems.
  2. Late people are deeply mindful. Sometimes we get engrossed in a great conversation, flow state with our work or an enjoyable hobby. We never complain when these people are in the same room with us sharing their gift of immersion.
  3. Late people feel guilty. As we rush through the door after everyone else has arrived our apologetic behavior is only a clue. Even though it may not seem like it in the moment I’ve noticed many struggle with Type-A vs. Type-B. Each world is different but it can coexist after a bit of effort on everyone’s part.

Ask For Permission Instead of Forgiveness

Try scheduling flex meetings for events that may not be time sensitive. According to my research, a person is late 12-24 minutes on average. What works best for me is to 1.5X the time I allow for the event then block off the whole slot. A lunch invite sounds a little more like, “Hey, let’s grab quinoa kale citrus salads at noonish (12:00-12:15). I have a few things I’m working on so I’ll tote them to our meeting. Keep me updated on your arrival.” That way it combats the drill sergeant effect, occupies my pea brain and comes across friendlier.

Being up front about your flexible timing makes it easy to gain control over your awesome schedule. If neither party is in a rush to choke down a mochachocafrappalatte at your local cafe, why plan it that way? As I browse my calendar there’s a 45 minute meeting scheduled to catch up with a friend over Mexican. “Yeah, that’ll be enough time to gorge three baskets of chips, catch up on two months of backlogged conversation and feed my taco baby!” C’mon.