Researchers have sussed out why some people are always running late

Lian Parsons
The snooze button might not be the only thing making you late
The snooze button might not be the only thing making you late (Source: Getty )

Are you always running late for a very important date? Like, genuinely always? Psychologists say there may be a reason for perpetual tardiness.

Research has shown that while inconsiderate behaviour and the desire to show up fashionably late are factors, they are not the only reasons.

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In 2016, Emily Waldum and Mark McDaniel from the University of Washington released a study, exploring the theory of Time-Based Prospective Memory. TBPM is a type of memory in which remembering to do something is triggered by a time-related cue that tells you when something needs to be done. For example, remembering to take laundry out of the washing machine in 30 minutes.

Researchers tested the TBPM theory by giving experiment participants a certain amount of time to complete a task, with the option of checking the clock before the time elapsed. People who were good at TBPM tasks were better at checking the clock periodically, rather than relying on their own internal perception of time.

In an article published last year in Psychology Today, professor of psychology at University of Massachusetts Amherst Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne said humans’ internal clocks are faulty, which is why we often plan to only spend 10 minutes scrolling social media, but end up wasting an hour without realising it.

She added that some people are also better at estimating how much time getting from point A to point B will take. They can take into account situations like bumping into a friend or a long queue for coffee.

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To avoid the trope of showing up 10 minutes late to a meeting with coffee spilled down your shirt, Whitbourne also suggested tips like checking the clock more frequently, creating a strategy for completing tasks on time and avoiding the temptation of doing “just one more thing” before getting ready.

“To get yourself where you need to be at the right time, you need to keep your internal clock in tip-top shape,” Whitbourne said. “It helps to use environmental cues, especially if you think you’re not very good at estimating time.”

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