Is lateness more than just a bad habit?

and often feels anxious about being late to things, lateness boggles my mind. Or I should say it used to. It wasn’t til I started getting into organising for a living and then more specifically, time management, that I began to see lateness as more than just simply a rude, bad habit.

Only human

I recently spoke on ABC National Radio about the topic so thought I’d write it up as it’s such an important aspect of living our lives efficiently. 

Lateness is usually treated as a bad habit and something that those of us who are gifted with the ability of generally (#onlyhuman) running on time, take for granted. But lateness can be a symptom of something else. Lack of technical skills, psychological obstacles, or a brain-based condition. 

What could it be?


  • Lack of planning
  • Disorganisation
  • Procrastination
  • Inaccurate time estimation

Psychological obstacles

  • Anxiety

Brain-based conditions

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


A way to determine what may be going on for you, or someone who is always running late in your life, is to check for patterns. Are you always late by different amounts of time or always late by the same amount of time?

What does the answer to this reveal? If someone is late by different amounts of time it could be due to a lack of technical skills (or a brain-based condition). And if someone is ALWAYS fifteen minutes late, for example, it’s most probably psychological. Because they are showing up exactly at the time that they want to. Mind blowing, hey?

Oftentimes someone may be anxious of being alone while they wait for someone else to arrive. They may spiral into worrying about being forgotten. Or maybe there are issues around not being able to relax, a fear of wasting time and needing to use every moment possible.

How to improve your skills

There are a number of things that people can do to improve their time skills and repetition is key to embedding these new skills.

  • Keep a Time Log to increase time awareness (and improve time estimating skills)
    • Track a task’s Start and Finish Time, as well as the Total time it took to complete. This is then awesome data for future planning.
  • Departure Checklist
    • Work your way backwards from when you need to be at your appointment and think about ALL the steps that lead you to that point (yes, even doing your shoes up).
  • Block out unrealistic thinking
    • By using a calendar you can see in a visual way where your time is already committed and what time is actually available to you
    • Capture commute times rather than putting things back to back in your calendar: create buffers
  • Plan to arrive early for every appointment, think that the time is different for you. If it’s 2pm, think that you will meet at 1:45 pm
  • Avoid wishful thinking when it’s time to GO
    • Often times people  think “it won’t take too long” or “I’ll just do this one thing quickly before I go…” NOOOOO! Don’t fall for it.
  • Find your motivation (ask your friends how it makes them feel when you are late)
  • Have something to do while you wait (a book to read, emails to respond to, messages to catch up on)

Sometimes all it takes is a coach *ahem* to guide you through such learning in order for your whole life to change. 

It’s why I’m so passionate about coaching – to witness those moments of transformation in my client’s life, is truly an honour. To be a part of someone’s growth and help set them up for big success is just so cool!

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So if you’re ready to start doing things a little differently, clearing the mental clutter and getting your productive self in prime position to achieve all that you wish to achieve – let me know, I’m here to help.

Talk soon,

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