Being Late Is The Worst Habit!

Are you regularly late to appointments? This is perhaps my all time worst pet peeve: people who are constantly late. Sure, we all are late at one time or another, but for the person who is habitually late, it is simply rude, inconsiderate, and selfish, with little or no real excuse for it.

Some people have argued it is a sociopathic disorder. Maybe so. Regardless of the reason, I believe it is manageable if not curable, and no different for some people than losing weight. You just have to care enough to make up your mind to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation.

On the surface, people who are constantly late don’t seem to care about themselves or others, no matter how many times they are scolded and joked about. It just goes in one ear and out the other. So what can be done?

1. Change your attitude. Before any of the tips that follow can be successful, you must change your attitude and mindset about being late. You must recognize and care about how it affects others.

For instance, when you are late, it often throws the timeline and agenda off schedule. It is most rude to have people waiting for you to show up and then having everything else that follows be late, too.

Once you recognize this as a bad habit, only then will you be on the road to recovery.

2. Begin in stages. Begin by posting a written pledge to yourself—on your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator, or someplace visible at all times—that for a period of one week, from this date to this date, you will make every effort to be on time for every appointment.

Monitor your progress at the end of each day in writing and make written notes of any adjustments you need to improve. Just thinking about it doesn’t cut it, because your thoughts are too easily forgotten.

At the end of the first week, give your self a big smile and a pat on the back. Relax in knowing you have actively taken the first steps to improving your life. Thereafter, just keep going for another week, understanding practice makes perfect. Once you can go two weeks without being late, then set the goal for one month and so on. Believe it or not, soon you will be on the path of success and will rarely be late again. These techniques do work.

3. Plan ahead.
From this point forward, you will never be scrambling at the last minute, which may have been among the reasons you were late. Get prepared one or more days ahead of time by using the following tips:

  • Make yourself a written checklist and timeline to follow, and follow it to help you get on the right path to success
  • Organize a permanent place in your home or office for fast getaways. Always set your regular pocket items such as wallet, keys, briefcase, and purse there.
  • Set out exactly what you want to wear at least one or two days ahead. This will give you time to get items cleaned or ironed.
  • Set up a place, within easy grabbing distance, for all items needed for the day of the appointment.
  • Each morning, listen to the radio or television, or look up online the latest weather conditions and traffic reports to determine whether you will have to leave your house earlier than usual.
  • Pay attention to the news for major local events that will impact your normal routes across town.
  • When preparing for important appointments, anticipate that things will take double the time you think and allow the extra time, just in case. If you get done sooner, relax and have an extra cup of coffee or sit and relax.
  • If you are sleep deprived, get to sleep earlier the night before. Instead of doing one or two extra tasks at night, jot them down so you won’t forget to do them the next day. If you have trouble getting up in the morning, seek professional help to get this problem under control.
  • Until you are well established in a routine of not being late in the morning, set your alarm clock to get up one hour early to allow plenty of time to get ready and leave.
  • If you enjoy a cup of coffee or breakfast at home, get a coffee maker with an alarm and prepare and set it the night before. It’s the closest thing to having room service in the morning.
  • Plan to leave your house or office at least 30 minutes earlier than you have in the past, for every appointment. Your new rule is now “better early than late.” In fact, I’m happier to be someplace even 30 minutes early than to be one minute late.

If you’re late anyway:
1. Call the person to let him or her know. Because we all have cell phones now, there is absolutely no excuse for not doing so. Inform the person as to approximately how long you will be delayed, so he or she will know when next to expect you.

2. When you arrive, do not make a big fuss over being late. For meetings in progress, enter the room and take a seat quietly. When appropriate, apologize for being late with a one-sentence reason for your delay. When you are sorry and apologize, and your apology is accepted, it means you acknowledge your mistake and will not repeat it. Otherwise, the apology is meaningless.

QUESTION OF THE MONTH: Are you a person or do you know people who are constantly late?  How do you feel and what do you think of about him/her always being late? What tips do you have to share to help others not be late? And when you are late, how have you gracefully recovered? I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Practicing!


Tags: , , , , ,

12 Responses to “Being Late Is The Worst Habit!”

  1. Jeremy S says:

    Hi Syndi, Love your “Being Late is The Worst Habit!” blog – absolutely brilliant and spoke right to me, Mr. Late-is-my-middle-name…:-))

  2. Karen B says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for standing up for civility. Parents are only hurting their children by not teaching them basic manners and respect and those in business are not being responsible over their workers. Karen.

  3. M says:

    Hi Syndi,
    So glad you did this post. I’ve had friendships almost end over this issue. I find it extremely disrespectful and rude to be late. Most of my California friends say that I’m just an “uptight New Yorker” and that I need to chill out and relax and not be so strict with my schedule! I will admit that I have learned to relax a little and not get so upset when folks are late, but how can one plan their day when some people have absolutely no regard for your time? (I’m not suggesting that all NYers are on time… just making an observation that folks in the Bay Area seems much less concerned with timelines than my east coast counterparts!)

  4. Wayne says:

    Syndi: I’m with you…punctuality is essential. LOL!

  5. Lisa says:

    I have the bad habit of running late. What are tricks people use that are usually one time. SHARE YOUR SECRETS to help us tardy people. Thank you.

  6. Syndi Seid says:

    Dear Lisa: Among the tricks I’ve heard people do is to physically set every clock in the house and in the car at least 10-30 minutes ahead. This way hopefully it will trick their minds to thinking they are already late when in reality they are not. Personally, I don’t like this because I masks the true problem of simply disciplining yourself by planning ahead to be on time. Would love to hear from others on this…

  7. M says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I’m a big planner. I believe in always giving myself extra time. If I know that i need to be someplace at a certain time, I allow extra time for traffic, finding parking, etc. to ensure that I will be on time. Another tip that I would offer is to be realistic when planning your schedule, (whether it is meetings or a lunch date with friends…) don’t jam pack your schedule so tight that you are rushing to get from one appointment to the next. Give yourself time. Write in your calendar “travel time” for example, and lastly, schedule “Lisa time”!!! That is crucial. Make a point to block out some time for YOURSELF!!! Hope that is helpful!

  8. Karen says:

    Hi, Syndi!

    I sought out your advice because we have a new team member who is always late for everything. It is embarrassing that she shows up late for
    every district and school meeting of any kind. When she appears, she expects us to “fill her in”, which disrupts the meeting, and causes one to miss the information being presented. She often claims”I didn’t know… Was that at the meeting?”, because she is either late or a no show. How do we, as a team, deal with a member who is chronically late, and “last minute” on most tasks? People from her old team “carried” her, but we have no intention of continuing with that practice. HELP!! How can we show kindness with respect, and share with her what appropriate work etiquette looks like? How do we send the message that the expectation is to be on time, carry your weight, and be ready to share and receive information?

  9. Syndi Seid says:

    Dear Karen: There is no easy way to tell a person who is always late to get their act together. My best suggestion is to do one of two things: A. Have the chair or president of the organization take the person how to coffee or a glass of wine and explain how 1) you value her participation and want to continue having it, yet her constantly being late is not acceptable behavior as a valued member of the group. Share my article or any others you may find online to say you did seek out help online to learn how best to handle the situation… because of how much you do care about doing the right thing. Embellish and emphasize how unfair, disrespectful, and impolite to everyone on the board when anyone is late… not to mention constantly missing important information, etc., etc. OR B. When the new school year begins in September distribute an announcement of several new guidelines for board participation and conduct in the next year. Among them most boards always can improve upon is how timely minutes of meetings are distributed… (In my mind they should ideally be distributed one week following the meeting, not one week or day before the next meeting). If you would like a list of other possible items to include in such an announcement that will “couch” the late issue, please email me directly at and I’ll be happy to send you what I once created for an organization for which I served as president. The first way is more direct without involving others, although the other way is less direct, it can be a great opportunity to begin anew with a number of items you may want to institute… among them this late issue. Good luck!

  10. Karen says:

    Dear Syndi,

    WOW!! Talk about a slam dunk! I think you nailed it!! I will pass your suggestions to my team leader, and absorb them myself.



  11. Hi Lisa,
    Being late is plain and simple, unacceptable!
    I wrote this piece here, I hope you like it:
    All the best from Barcelona, Spain
    Jeff Robinson

  12. It’s Time You Respect My Time says:

    […] Being Late Is The Worst Habit! from Advanced Etiquette And I don’t care if I sound old-fashioned, because actually it’s […]

Leave a Reply