Being Late Is Not The End Of The World

being late

I write about time management a lot. I'm also one of those comically punctual people who don't get the idea of social lateness. If you invite me to a party at 8 ... I'll probably be there at 8.

So being late to anything puts me in quite a state. I don't like to scramble when I've already made plans. So I get agitated. But what I've started to realize lately is that the agitation can be a problem in its own right.

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Take last month, for instance. I was flying to Indianapolis, and had to connect in Cleveland. My first flight was late, and I had a very tight connection. So I was sitting there ruminating on missing my connecting flight. Then I realized that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. If I missed it, I missed it. This was not going to be in my power to control. And if I did miss it? I'd get a later flight. Earth would not crash into the sun. There was no point being unhappy for the entire hour on the plane about whether we'd get there in time or not.

Being late is not the end of the world. In certain situations, like if you're meeting someone, and you're 15 minutes late because you could have left earlier but didn't, I think that's rude, and I'm especially agitated when I'm the at-fault party in those situations. But I'm often amazed how understanding people are about such things. There's no point getting worked up, or rushing. Then you make mistakes or apologize in flummoxed ways. Agitation rarely helps anything.

Are you a punctual person? Have you always been one?

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Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam


Laura Vanderkam is the author of All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending (Portfolio, 2012), and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think (Portfolio, 2010). She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children, and blogs daily at

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