Late v. Early People

Late v. Early People: How Timeliness Habits Affect Mood, Work, and Love

No matter how much we try to resist it, we live in a society bound by time constraints. Many of us work 40 hours per week, shuffle our kids to scheduled sports, music, or dance practices, clean and shop for the household, and if we’re lucky, meet up with friends or family for some relaxation.

No matter where you’re going, you’re going to get there early, on time, or late. Arriving early is a must for some, and for others, walking in the door in a timely manner can feel next to impossible.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but everyone has different desires and habits when it comes to making a schedule and arriving on time. In today’s fast-paced, do-it-all world, does being on time really make a difference in our stress and our success?

To find out, we surveyed 1,007 people and asked how timeliness, or lack thereof, impacts their stress levels, love lives, professional reputations, and finances. Read on to find out how the way you view the clock could be influencing the rest of your life.

Racing the Clock

Early, Late, or On Time? Respondents' Self-Reported Punctuality

Being on time isn’t always easy, yet the majority of our survey respondents said they are usually early or on time, while 10.7% said they regularly arrive late to their destinations. Men and women reported similar tendencies to be on time, while women reported being late more often.

Clinical psychologist and behavioral scientist Josh Klapow told HuffPost that chronic tardiness results from a combination of disposition and habits. He said people who grew up in a more laid-back environment may be apt to tardiness because timeliness wasn’t stressed as a priority. But structured homes tend to produce adults who err on the side of promptness.

Those are also the people who, according to our survey, agreed most with the idea “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.” If you struggle with timeliness, try setting priorities, decreasing your commitments, and tracking how long you spend on tasks to start forming better habits.

Time’s Effect on Emotions

The Emotional Effect of Timeliness

If you’re chronically late, you might also be at a higher risk of being chronically stressed. Respondents who reported being either early or on time also reported feeling “on top” of their lives and feeling happier than those who said they tend to run late. People who said they are on time to events in their life often plan in advance and therefore feel more control over the details of their day. Seizing opportunities to gain positive experiences becomes an option, instead of huffing to the next meeting.

We also found that creativity varies slightly by typical timeliness, with late people reporting feeling slightly more creative than those who are typically early. This could happen because some creative people often become so involved in their projects that they neglect other aspects of their lives. In doing so, self-care and scheduling can fall to the bottom of their priorities.

When working on a project, creative people tend to exhibit determination and doggedness. They will work for hours on something, often staying up late into the night until they are satisfied with their work.

Time’s Effect on Your Career

Punching the Clock: How Punctuality May Impact Profession

At the office, your ability to be on time can affect everyone around you. Running late to meetings, missing deadlines, and having ineffective communication with co-workers can all result in poor performance, both for you and your team. It also decreases overall efficiency, and may lead to an unhappy boss. According to our survey, people who run late were more likely to have been fired at some point in their career than those who are typically early or on time.

We found that early birds tend to enjoy their jobs more, and that may be because they’ve contributed to a positive work environment for their co-workers and boss. This, in turn, is helpful to them. But they also could be happier at work for another reason: They’re less likely to stay late or bring their work home. Instead of mixing work and personal hours, set time boundaries on office affairs and fully embrace your downtime.

Money and Minutes

It May Pay to Be Early

According to our survey, those who are early to work make, on average, more than $2,000 more per year than those who are late. You may conclude this to apply only to hourly employees, but think again. Career Trend says inconsistent hours may also affect PTO and confuse payroll systems. You could be inadvertently missing crucial dollars that add up to more than just a cup of coffee over the long term.

People who are on time for work may also experience higher incomes because they may be more likely to plan each aspect of their lives, including how much money they typically spend. They could be better prioritizing and planning what goes in and out of their accounts. Money Management International says prioritizing your time goes hand in hand with prioritizing how you spend. Even taking a few minutes each day to plan your schedule and what you need to spend time on could help you stay focused.

Increase Your Love Connection

Your Partner's Typical Timeliness: Relationship Satisfaction by Partner's Timeliness

If you’re in a relationship, how does your partner’s timeliness affect you? Are you constantly waiting on them or hoping they won’t forget the big date or are they consistently on time when you make plans? Building in time for a significant other might be tricky if you’re always racing between obligations or losing track of the clock.

If you’re in any kind of relationship, romantic or platonic, consider how your timeliness could be affecting others. Frequently missing time together could be straining your ability to truly connect, or it may make your partner feel as if they are not an important priority. For some, time is an important part of feeling loved.

So, how did timeliness affect our respondents in relationships? When compared to those whose partners are often late, those with early and on-time partners expressed significant gains in their love lives. Not only did they report feeling more valued by their partners, but they were also more satisfied with their sex lives and emotional connections.

Conclusion

Time management can be challenging and views on its importance differ. It likely matters more in professional settings because time can equal money, but that doesn’t negate its importance off the clock.

Promptness carries short- and long-term consequences, which can directly impact your stress levels, income, and even your romantic relationships. If you’re interested in turning over a new leaf in terms of timeliness, begin by keeping track of your engagements and commitments on your phone or on an old-fashioned wall calendar. Setting priorities and boundaries can also help you take back control of your time.

Methodology

Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Service, we surveyed 1,007 people between the ages of 18 and 81. The average age was 37.8 with a standard deviation of 12.4.

We asked respondents if they were typically early, on time, or late to events, appointments, and other engagements. 44.9% identified as on time, 44.4% said they were early, and 10.7% said they were usually late.

49.7% of respondents were women, 49.9% were men, and fewer than 1% were nonbinary or chose not to specify. 73% of respondents were employed part time or full-time.

72.1% of respondents were in a relationship, engagement, or marriage, and 27.9% were single, divorced, separated, or widowed. The respondents in a relationship, engagement, or marriage answered questions about their partners’ timeliness.

Fair Use Statement

We all can use help with being on time. Whether you’re working on your own tardiness or that of a friend, please share this information for noncommercial purposes and link back to this page to give credit to its creators.