The Importance of Being Punctual


Is that a real emergency or just a poor excuse?

Person A: I am so sorry I am late. I was stuck in traffic.
Person B: No kidding. Cause, ya know, I chartered a plane to get here!

I am so tempted to respond this way to every Person A who has been notoriously late to a meeting with me and arrives blurting out this ridiculous excuse. They may be friends, family, guests, co-worker, clients, or perfect strangers, it matters little who they are because tardy is a serious lack of respect.

Am I the only one left who feels this way about punctuality and tardiness? Please say it isn’t so.

Has our culture written off the importance of being punctual as insignificant and inconsequential?

Can we not have confidence enough to politely ask that people do us the courtesy to simply be on time?

Can we not have enough respect for the other person’s time and effort to show up at the hour that we said we would?

Are we really that incapable of handling ourselves and managing our time as adults with all gadgets of technology known to man?

The dreaded truth: what it really means to be late …

Let me dispel a few preconceived notions about being late. This quiet truth deserves a voice and it rarely gets heard.

Being late …

  • … does not make you an important or special person. Whoever you are doesn’t reserve you the right to be late.
  • … late once or twice in your life may be unavoidable but being late consistently makes you unreliable.
  • … says you clearly do not respect the other person’s time, only yours.
  • … affects your boss’s impression of you and damages your upward mobility at the company.
  • … consistently implies you are rude and lack all consideration and respect for the other person as well as for the commitment you made.

Your apologies for being late, however profuse and sincere, do not excuse the tardy. I am not saying not to apologize, I am saying not to be late!

Your reasons for being late insult the other person’s intelligence.

Let’s state the obvious here: Emergencies are exempt from the list above. Emergency, however, is defined as an unavoidable and uncontrollable situation which puts you in a position that makes it impossible to comply with your original plans because something more important has arisen at the last minute.

No, that is not an emergency!

The short list below shows examples of what is not an emergency, and rather results from lack of planning and a personal choice:

  • You spill coffee (or any beverage) on yourself on your way out the door.
  • Your children making you late. For whatever reason.
  • You have an argument with your spouse, your partner, your neighbor and then you are late.
  • Your dog or cat or other four-legged friend does something to make you late. Anything!
  • You answer an unexpected call which runs over and makes you late.
  • You ‘lose track of time’ and are thereby,  you guessed it, late.
  • You forget altogether about the appointment and are embarrassingly late.
  • You are “stuck” in ‘unavoidable’ traffic or re-routed due to construction routes.

The last one is my pet peeve. Calculating the distance between two points takes simple thinking. The two tools you need are access to Google and a device that tells time.

If you have never traveled that route and are not familiar with traffic patterns, give yourself at least 15 extra minutes on top of what Google maps or your GPS dictates.

Traffic is not a new phenomena in our lives. You can manage extremely well with minimal planning. Traffic does not control you, excuse you, make you late or hold you back. You do. Be smart, be responsible, and plan around it!

But some days, life has other plans and hands you a real emergency such as:

  • Your punctual train or public transportation is delayed because of unforeseen circumstances.
  • You have an accident or a punctured tire while in transit.
  • You become ill and unable to go the meeting – in which case you will be a no-show not just late.
  • Someone you care for becomes ill and needs your help.

May none of these real emergencies ever detain you. May you be healthy and outside the emergency zone at all times. But if they do, please immediately contact the other person and let them know. Communication is consideration when emergencies arise.

Reminder: You can still grab The Positive Affirmations for Life program with more than 4 hours of audio affirmations for 7 life situations that impact your happiness and success the most.

11 reasons why it pays to be punctual in life

Embracing punctuality is more than just an admirable trait; it introduces you to a brand new way of living that you will love! You feel content and happy with yourself rather than frustrated and guilty.

Why is the importance of being punctual in life anyway if there are far too many Person A types around.

Because it is the right thing to do – but I shall give you 11 more reasons just to be safe.

The best motivator I can give you is that if you are a conscientious Person A, being late adds unnecessary stress to your life and breaking the habit removes it.

Below are 11 more reasons why punctuality matters in a professional world among smart people:

  1. You show respect for the Person B in your life.
  2. You respect yourself enough to keep your word.
  3. You prove that you can be trustworthy.
  4. You are appreciated for being on time.
  5. You are regarded as a reliable person.
  6. You are seen as a professional.
  7. You are taken seriously and on your word.
  8. You build a strong reputation for your character.
  9. You open doors and attract more opportunities to yourself.
  10. You eliminate stress from your life by removing the anxiety of being late.
  11. You do the right thing and feel good about it.


What you should do when someone is late?

You have choices as in all things in life. The most popular choice is to never mention it, to be flexible with people’s schedules, and to convince yourself it’s no big deal and your time doesn’t matter all that much. After all, what’s a few minutes here and there?

Or (can you tell this is my recommendation?) you could bring it up gently once, make the point, request that they respect your time next time. If it happens again in the future, know that you have a choice about interacting with that person.

You cannot change any one except yourself but a kind reminder in a gentle tone will get the message across. Well, most of the time!

If you are on the receiving side of this, I would encourage you to see it from the other person’s point of view. Your time is just as valuable as theirs, regardless of your life circumstance.

In response to Person A being late, you could say:

John/Jill/honey/bro/sis/you, I just wanted to let you know that I also went through a lot of effort to be here on time and I still had to wait 10 (or more) minutes for you. I hope that this will not happen again in our future meetings.

Be polite, be sincere, be kind but be honest and have these tougher conversations for more rewarding relationships in the future.

If the late person continues to disrespect your time and ignores your hints, it may just be a strong sign to let go of the relationship or stop living up to their expectations.

We make our choices in a free world about lifestyle, commitments, priorities, and family.

If we are responsible individuals, we will only take on as much as we can handle and handle that which we take on very well.

If we are reliable individuals, we will meet our commitments to others or break the commitment professionally if we cannot make it.

If we are smart individuals, we will prioritize our activities.

And if we are considerate individuals, we will plan ahead, show up early and set an example to follow.

Have you seen The Birdcage? One of my favorite movies of all time, hilarious even on the 5th watch. In it, a dialogue takes place between Agador and Amand. When Agador, the house chef, announces that dinner is served as it is 8 o’clock, Amand, the party host, responds: “Yeah well, 8 o’clock – that means 8:15, 8:30, quarter to 9!” Agador scratches his head as he heads back to the kitchen.

Robin Williams may be hilarious in his role as Amand but he is wrong in this instance!

8 o’clock means 8 o’clock unless appended with a clause, such as “I don’t really mean 8 sharp.“, “8 is fine but we’ll be at least 10 minutes late.” or  “We meet 8ish, give or take a few minutes.” Otherwise, 8 o’clock it is, baby. Be there or be square!

8 things you can do to heal your own tardiness

Listen, being late is not in your DNA. It’s not something you “inherit” from your family. It is not a characteristic trait. It is just a good habit and like all habits, it can be broken or preserved. It is a matter of personal choice and priority. Make the right one every time!

The real problem with being constantly late is that it makes you stressed and anxious. Why add this pressure to your life when you can live with inner peace? There is a better way to live than chasing the clock every day from too many commitments, too much activity and too many promises. So I put together a short guide for you if you find yourself constantly late, and if you swear it is “impossible for me to be on time!” – first of all, I disagree, it is very much possible. Here’s 8 things that can heal your tardiness:

  1. Simplify your life by thinking about why you are doing something before committing.
  2. Say no more often. “No, I’m afraid I can’t take that on right now, thanks for asking though!”
  3. Give yourself more wiggle room in between appointments.
  4. Be aware of your body rhythms. If you are not a morning person, don’t keep making morning appointments.
  5. Stop thinking of yourself as a perpetually late person. You can change your habits if you so decide.
  6. Aim to arrive 10 minutes early for every appointment for a week.
  7. Apologize if you are late and ask if there is anything you can do to make it up to the other person.
  8. Celebrate your success when you have been on time for 3 times in a row. Then repeat for 3 more times.

With these actionable tips, you may find it easier to develop your own punctuality even for the first time in your life. You are not ‘afflicted’ with tardiness. Your mind has the power to train and become the most punctual person you ever know. And when that happens, you may be sending this article to your friends and family, asking if they could please observe more punctuality in their appointments with you.

In fact, share this article with at least one friend that is ‘suffering from the tardiness syndrome’ and help make this a more punctual world! Would you?

If I have not stirred the pot with this one, I am lucky. Really, tell me, is it just me being so persistent on punctuality and respecting other people’s time, including the very minutes? Do you make an effort to show up on time? Do you feel indifferent about being on time or being late? Please share your thoughts!

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  • Celso

    Excelent article. Just to add, you could have also writen a few words about the importance of someone calling – whenever possible – the other person when he/she knows that is going to be late anyway: “hey, I’ll be late 10 minutes”. This time could easily make a difference for the one who’s waiting, who could use it for something else than waiting.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Celso, thank you for your comment! I had already gone well over standard length and plus, it is for my readers even more to the article. Excellent tip! The other thing is also that I really wanted to focus on *not* being late rather than *managing* the lateness but no matter, excellent addition, glad you enjoyed this!

  • Lance

    Hi Farnoosh,
    I too believe very much in being punctual. And I think it can very much be a two-way street. You might meet someone, and you are both there…except the other person has you wait while they take a telephone call, etc.

    Have I been late? Yes, I definitely have. (with no good excuse) And I personally feel really badly when this happens. And I also know how it makes me feel when someone is late in meeting me. None of this feels good…

    So, I do very much attempt to be on time. I believe it really shows that you value another’s time and also their being…

    Nicely said, my friend….

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Lance, you are the first person that shows up with the CommentLuv in action. Congratulations :)!!
      Just teasing you…..And I am very happy to hear your thoughts on punctuality. I have been late too – and it puts strenuous amount of pressure on myself really without a good excuse at times. And yes again, it feels awful to be ignored in the company of others when they take a phone call with you around and I really wish they would choose to spend the time with you just with you. Thank you for your thoughts!

      • Lance

        Thanks, Farnoosh!! I feel like a winner…being the first CommentLuv comment on your site! Hmm….I think I shall celebrate today!! Perhaps a decadent piece of chocolate cake – or maybe some grilled veggies… (wow, that’s a wide spectrum of foods!!). Woo-hoo!!

  • Jaky Astik

    The best way to be punctual? Be 10 minutes early at everything. Hate tight schedules. Say ‘no’ to avoidable tasks and try to stop procrastinating. It’s quite tough, anyway, but everything has a price. What say?

    • Farnoosh

      Jaky, I am usually early too by 5-10 minutes and that is excellent advice. Tight schedules drive me mad too. I agree to all. Thanks for dispensing your tips here!

  • Ruben Berenguel

    There is a problem with being punctual, and it is… being punctual. There are a lot of situations where you should be punctual, but my experience (I’m always something like 5 minutes early for every thing) is that being punctual just means you have to wait a long time.

    A few years back, every time I had an appointment with my friends to go eating something in the afternoon and chat a little, I was 5 minutes ahead of time. And they were something like 15 to 25 minutes late. The problem is that this happens a lot these days, too.

    If you plan on being 5 minutes earlier every time, try to bring a read with you (or an iPod touch, iPhone, iPad), at least you will use waiting time for something useful.


    • Farnoosh

      Dear Ruben,
      Your friends did not respect your time – that is my whole point of this article. Managing our time when people are late is another topic altogether and yes, if we are willing to put up with it (I am not but you may be), then there are many ways to pass the time. Did you ever try to confront them? Or to leave? Or to show up 30 minutes late so you arrive around the same time as they do? One by one, we can change the pattern. Thanks for your comment!

  • Abubakar Jamil

    After reading this wonderful piece of writing (actually a good guide) and the comments I have nothing to add so I’ll just Stumble it. :)

    • Farnoosh

      Abubakar, nothing to add? Is that possible, my friend? Thank you for the Stumble!!!

  • Joe Wilner


    I have to agree that punctuality is a very important trait. I am the type of person who arrives early to engagements and appointments, so I’m used to waiting on people or situations, but for me, I would rather be early than rushing around and feel the stress of being late. I guess this is because I value being on time. Others may not value being on time, and have a different take on whether it’s really necessary. It comes down to consideration for the other people really, and showing that you’re reliable. A good rule of thumb, is make sure to be early and you’ll never be late. Thanks!

    • Farnoosh

      Joe, so nice to see you here. I am so happy you echo my very thoughts and feelings. Being early is brilliant of course. Even 3 to 5 minutes makes all the difference in removing anxiety and stress, and being in control. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and validating the importance of punctuality!

  • Daniel Bossut

    As much as I like to be punctual, and strive to be, there are times where I would intentionally be just late, and part of it is cultural, part of it could be retaliation for them people being late on a regular basis.

    As you clearly state in your wonderful piece, my dear Farnoosh, punctuality is respect of the other.

    Not so would say many South Americans! Many people in these cultures are notorious for being late (and not by just 10 min!) and it is well accepted as “normal”, even courteous. Only in culture (mostly Western, but also Eastern) that strive to achieve performance over the comfort of life is time to be valued. In cultures where they “respect” the private life of each other, punctuality takes the back burner. It’s like you don’t get points for arriving early, on the contrary. It’s also a bit like you teased the person waiting, making that person becoming aware of the urge to see you, a feeling that has its value.

    There is yet another aspect: when I was playing tennis regularly, I noticed that I was winning more matches when arriving just late (or after my opponent) than when arriving in advance. This was probably due to our state of mind, for me trying to make good for making him wait, and for my opponent throw his concentration a little off by having to wait for me!

    As for the retaliation, yes it can be a passive-aggressive weapon, especially when dealing with a demanding ex who has always been late, just to make things worse (as if still possible). :)

    • Farnoosh

      Daniel, mon ami, how nice to see you here sharing your thoughts for a change!! As you know well, I come from Persian culture myself and you from European and punctuality is as unheard of in Iran as the existence of my blog! So I know what you mean when it comes to differences in culture and if both people share those values, then really who am I to argue and ask them to be on time to a meeting everyone will be arriving whenever they wish – and perhaps in hopes of playing some mental waiting game of desire or whatever else it may insinuate. And of course, in the battle of the exes, other emotions dictate and reason plays a small part ;)! Anyway, in a professional world, in a business world, or in a world where our time matters, punctuality is important and I think no matter what culture or background the person in question is accustomed to, if they do not indicate they will be late, it is inconsiderate and I will probably leave before they arrive but it’s good to know I can be as late as I want to meeting toi ;)!

  • Aileen

    When I read your thoughts on punctuality, it reminds me of why I strive for it. That may sound odd, but in my experience, it’s so incredibly common for people to be late. This may be due to living in the LA area where it’s the norm to flake out on people and traffic could mean the difference between a 45 minute drive and a two hour drive – but, that as you say, plan for it.

    Growing up, my family was notoriously late for everything and I felt embarrassed each time. As an adult I take it seriously and strive to be punctual both out of respect for the other person and to avoid feeling embarrassed.

    I find a huge challenge when going somewhere with another person who really thinks it’s fine to be late and then makes us both late. It’s incredibly frustrating.

    Your post helps me put it into words, which is great! From now on, I’ll be able to articulate why it’s important to be punctual. When I’ve tried to explain it before, it wasn’t clearly articulated.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Aileen, I am so happy others strive for it too!! It’s odd but also common – and incredible (in not such a good way). It has nothing to do with LA either. It happens everywhere. You know, Persian culture is not notorious for being on time but my family has always been pretty good. Start setting rules and if people do not show up, just leave. Respect your own time. Why should they be the ones to take their time and arrive when it suits them while you had to go through just as much effort to be there? Nothing will happen until you show that you won’t put up with it. If your friends get upset, blame me and send them here! Together, we’ll re-establish this good habit!

      • Aileen

        “If your friends get upset, blame me and send them here! ” – Farnoosh, that’s fabulous!
        Absolutely brilliant!
        I’m actually going to email a link to this page to a handful of people – & see how it goes :)

  • Jean Sarauer

    Ah, I hope I am not late to read this article :) Seriously, I’m early to everything these days because I dislike keeping people waiting so much. That said, at least half of the people in my circle of friends and family are late.

    Occasionally, I understand perfectly, as I have had children, I have pets, I have elderly parents, and I have a husband with chronic health issues. Illnesses, big messes, and deaths happen – but in these situations there is a telephone and it needs to be used to inform the one waiting of the situation.

    I’ve talked with the habitually late folks in my life, and I see now it is because their lives are out of control that they always run late. Too much clutter, poor decision-making, poor health . . . these things don’t clear up because I talk with them but represent larger life issues that they avoid addressing.

    I handle it this way: If someone is late for a meal I prepare, I and other guests eat without them and I do not offer to reheat food. Likewise, I’ll go ahead and eat without people in a restaurant or simply leave if they don’t arrive promptly. Believe it or not, some habitually late people have told me that this is rude behavior. The logic there seems rather twisted to me :)

    • Farnoosh

      Jean, you are not late yet so rest easy ;)!
      Gosh you do have a lot of stuff going on with your family and I’d have never known from your wonderful energy and personality. And I am now that much prouder of you for all the respect you show yourself and those who are on time and the indifference you show others. Of course nothing is funnier than the twisted logic which says, I know I was late but you actually started without me, how very rude! I am fully supportive of you – Leave or start the party! Thank you also for bringing up the deeper issues beneath the surface of people who are chronically late. Thank you for being here, Jean, to add to the conversation!

  • Emiel

    Dear Farnoosh,
    wow, strong post! I won’t ever dare to be late for an appointment with you :)
    I feel exactly the same way as you describe and I am never, ever too late for an appointment.
    But indeed, it’s part of our culture as other comments were mentioning. And girl, will you be surprised on your next trip :)
    As in the Persian culture, also in Asia people tend to be late (not all parts of Asia though). I have gathered some nice links for you. Probably you will be very irritated when reading them. But hey, when traveling this is one of the charms!
    Great post. I really have to forward it to some of my friends…you know, the ones who are always late…grrr.

    • Farnoosh

      Emiel, how nice to see you here and yes, the perspective on travel is not new to me. I have traveled extensively as you know and have had to adapt. The thing is though that in my travels, it is mostly with strangers where the tardy happens but at home, I expect and demand better especially if I am willing to go through the trouble of being punctual (or early!). So yes, I know the world may consider punctuality ok at large but for the Person B, it should simply be unacceptable after a certain limit, unless of course, Person B does not mind wasting time waiting. :)!

  • Yu

    Hi Farnoosh,
    Yeah being punctual is a big thing. It’s strange to me how people don’t seem to be bothered by it anymore. I’ll make plans with a friend to meet at Shibuya at 9 or 10 and they’ll be there at 10:30. What am I, the person that comes on time, supposed to do with the extra hour and a half? There is a lot of stuff to do in Tokyo but it’s just not nice to be waiting around ‘doing nothing’ until your faithful friend decides to show up.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Yu, I love Shibuya and I could entertain myself for hours – I’d walk off that appointment after 10minutes and find another engagement if I were you. Or else try arriving at 10:45 next time and see how it goes. Try different things but do something because sometimes, talking alone to our friends does nothing to prove that we are serious about our time. Ah now I am going to be thinking about Shibuya all day! Thanks for your comment!

  • Amanda

    Ditto, Farnoosh! My biggest pet peeve is people being late, also. And sometimes, when I want to arrive “fashionably late” to a party or whatever, it always backfires on me. I stress so much when I’m not punctual. I hate making people wait on me, as I know how much it frustrates me when others are late. If you are late for a meeting, apologize and move on. Excuses just make it that much more irritating.

    • Farnoosh

      Love it, Amanda – love that you feel so conscientious about not making people wait and being punctual. Parties are different because no one is expecting everyone to arrive – especially if the party just starts such as our tango parties for instance. It’s open to arrival and departure all night. But if it is a dinner party at a host’s house, I’d arrive on time. Excuses are irritating indeed. Thank you for validating the take on punctuality today!

  • Sandra Lee


    It’s quite clear that being late drives you wild and some of your readers too!!!!!

    I don’t really ascribe such a high value to punctuality myself. Time just works differently in other parts of the world like Hawai’i (my current home), India, South America. I appreciate the laid back ambiance of these cultures.

    I tend to be on the punctual side and I do get annoyed when other people are late. I know I am an impatient person so I try to use these opportunities to look at my own mind and my own impatience and let myself just be and relax in the moment. In that way, it becomes a useful opportunity for me.

    I don’t think – for the most part – people mean to be disrespectful when they are late. People have different dispositions and it seems far easier for some people to be punctual than others.

    Sorry to be the devil’s advocate – seems to be in the stars today. :) And, you knew you were stirring the pot!

    • Farnoosh

      Did you say Hawaii? My favorite place in the world, Sandra and I am not saying that because you live there. Yes, in Hawaii there is this “island time” concept – and it’s the one place where I am relaxed too. You can be devil’s advocate any time you want and you know I welcome it and appreciate it. I know people have good intentions most of the time and they do not mean to put us in a disposition but as I tell my husband, the end result is the same – we are put in a disposition, our time is wasted and it is rude, no matter what their intentions. I think it’s nice to have flexibility but looking around me, it is becoming a non-issue and I hope that it does not seem rude when I leave after waiting for maximum of 10 minutes without a warning – now I have yet to do that, I was just playing another devil’s advocate for the poor Person B in this scenario! :)
      Ah Hawaii – do kiss the air from me, will you?
      Thank you for your thoughts, Sandra!

  • rob white

    Hi Farnoosh,
    No doubt about it: being punctual is just sound business practice. It is a sign of respect and shows you are to be taken seriously. I have called off meetings the other party was late for… simply walking out when they arrive. I can assure you that they are prompt for any subsequent meetings after that. Time is not to be trifled with when we take what we are up to seriously.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Rob, thank you for the validation from the ultimate businessman that you are. And thank you for taking action when the other party was late and a very bold one too. I need to try that one. “Time is not to be trifled with” – thank you for your great addition here!

  • Tess The Bold Life

    Amen I feel the same and nearly as strong! Tardiness makes me crazy.I’ve had no luck confronting either and it crosses all generations.I also agree with the benefits you state. I think entitlement gets in the way of many. Thanks for addressing this.I wonder how many will recognize themselves and think “I need to change.” I think in other cultures I would follow the norm

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Tess, good good good! Another advocate for punctuality!! By entitlement, do you mean for instance if your boss is late? I have never been able to seriously say anything about that – only half-kidding. I hope at least one person will change as a result of this and at most, everyone who is late. Thank you for adding your thoughts here for us!

  • Angela Artemis

    Farnoosh hope it’s not too late for me to add my 2 cents here……I’m in sales so meeting customers is a big part of my business. I’d say 50% are late and the other half usually about on time. I usually find that the ones who are late, or say they will get things to you by a certain date and don’t, or don’t call you when they say they will….never pan out. If they don’t respect you enough in the beginning to be on time or keep their word about things, they never will. I’m not rude, nor do I feel the need to tell them off in any way, I just shrug it off to “it takes all kinds in this world” and move on.

    I don’t like being kept waiting, especially in the doctors office. Why do they give you an appointment for a certain time then make you wait 45 minutes? Whey didn’t they just make the appointment for 45 minutes later? Now this infuriates me. With friends, I’m more apt to overlook it.

    • Farnoosh

      Angela, I’m afraid I can’t accept such a tardy comment, a whole 18 hours after the post was published. :)
      Sales and customers makes sense for abusing the system but I think you took the right approach – how can you tell the customer what to do anyway? I worked in support for a while but that was not the case. When customers NEED support, they are there to drive you insane and never late to adding to your headaches but that’s because they need something.
      If you find out the answer to that doctor thing, please let me know!!!
      Thanks for adding here with your valuable thoughts, Angela!

  • Jean Burman

    Great post Farnoosh… and I couldn’t agree more! I am always on time or early. But the people around me? Not so much [grin] But on the bright side… living with lateness has given me the greatest opportunity to learn the extreme art of patience in the face of some of the most painful and excruciating waiting a person could ever have been subjected to. [Now I know I can do anything! grin]

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Jean, thank you for agreeing! I have been working on my patience in traffic (not the kind that makes me late, just traffic in general ;)) and well, if there were one way to look at the bright side of this without changing it, then hats off to you for finding it. Thank you for adding to the conversation!

  • Tony Teegarden

    I Love it Farnoosh! My great grandmother who raised me said, “If you’re not 20 minutes early, you’re late.”

    I always took that with me in everything I do. Be prepared for the unexpected. need to be somewhere at a certain time? Give yourself an extra 30 minutes at least for unexpected set backs. Be proactive!

    Don’t wait for the last minute to get somewhere. That’s when accidents happen and worse yet, your first impression with someone is that you’re late.

    I’ll admit I hold a certain amount of anxiety around being punctual. Argh! lol

    Wonderful post my dear Farnoosh!

    • Farnoosh

      Lucky you to have such a smart great grandmother, dear Tony – thank you so much for sharing with us and adding to the fact that punctuality is age old wisdom and not some new trend that I am trying to promote. I am very happy it spoke to you – and I am usually 10-15min early but your great grandmother has influenced me to be even more prepared. Thank you for the very encouraging comment here, Tony!!

  • J.D. Meier

    Time is a funny thing. It’s so core and we feel the impact of conflicting beliefs.

    When I was young, I was taught that being on time was a sign of respecting other people’s time. You can imagine how I felt whenever somebody was late. Later, I learned that it’s nothing personal … it’s simply a reflection of a person’s personal beliefs about time. Some people are punctual, others seem to be perpetually late. It’s just like productivity practices … some people are excellent here … while others leave a lot to be desired. There’s a lot of truth in the old saying, if you want something done, give it to somebody who’s busy.

    • Farnoosh

      J.D., thank you for sharing your perspective. I think that whether the person intends it or not, the end result is that it is rude to be late. If I don’t mean to hurt someone but I still end up running into them so badly they fall down, next time they will probably get out of the way – even if they are so kind as to not take it personally! So yes, people are so oblivious that they don’t even realize they are late at times. I think it comes down to personal choice – those who choose to be late and those who seem to find it ok to wait it out. I admire that you are so flexible with your time to accommodate others. Generous as I am, I am unfortunately not willing to wait very long ;)!

  • Sibyl – alternaview

    Farnoosh: You have not stirred my pot :) I think you are so right, punctuality is so important and it shows a respect for other people and their time. I always try to make a concerted effort to be on time and those times that I don’t manage to be somewhere on time is because I haven’t planned enough ahead (just as you suggested). There really is no good reason to not be early to everywhere you are supposed to be. It just requires commitment and perhaps getting things moving 10 minutes earlier :) Great post.

    • Farnoosh

      Sibyl dearest, we would get along perfectly fine as friends if we lived in the same city :)! Thank you so much for validating and adding your thoughts on punctuality – I am feeling so much better by reading all these comments. Things have not gone as haywire as I had thought and there are many like-minded others who value punctuality still. Thanks again, Sibyl!

  • Jean Burman

    A couple of very high achievers I know over schedule their day on purpose in order to get more done [much the same way airlines sell more tickets than they have seats available on aircraft – to ensure that planes on busy routes are always full] These people run late all day and the appointment at the end of the day usually gets bumped…. but they do maintain their objective and manage to squeeze more in. It’s arrogant and I don’t subscribe to the practice [at all]… but it happens… and it does work. Questioned whether they think it rude… they are often oblivious and don’t seem to see a problem with it. [I mean… how else would they get everything done?] (((chuckles))) Horses for courses I guess…

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Jean, thank you so much for sharing your insights (with your wonderful sense of humor)! I used to over-schedule my days like crazy but I still managed not to make anyone wait or else I would cancel with plenty of notice. I think it’s rudely selfish that they would do that at the expense of others’ time but I am sure in their view, they simply get more done. The problem is that if they consistently cancel on people or show up late, I have a hard time believing that – unless they hold a powerful position over those they make wait – that they have their implicit respect and trust. Thank you for sharing! I think I might know a person or two like that too!

  • Tavish {Sensible Bakwas}

    Hi Farnoosh,
    I meandered in her through Zeenat’s blog and I am so glad I did. You know what? Three years back when I was college, I was known as THE most punctual person. It was almost considered a bad habit to be that way, but i could just not control being punctual. However, slowly as time progressed, i find myself so much like the person A now. Your post was like a mirror to me. Thank you so much for that.


    • Farnoosh

      Tavish, thank you for your comment and welcome to prolific living. There is still plenty of time to turn things around especially since you are fresh (yes 3 years is nothing!) out of school and your habits are still forming for life and you probably have yet to meet some of the most influential and important people of your life. Learn to be punctual again and do not heed the advice of those who give you such poor guidelines. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  • jonathanfigaro

    I can only simply agree with what has been written. When you are on time, you can be trusted and it is professional. Never trust a man or woman who always shows up late, i say =)

    • Farnoosh

      Thank you Jonathan for the laugh and the vote of confidence. I have a bunch of fabulous punctual readers! I love it…..thanks for sharing those thoughts!

  • Gabe

    I’m usually one of those people that has to be on time to as many things as possible. I think it’s important to be on time for work, but I also find myself being on time to social events.

    It makes me feel good to be on time because I know that people can depend on me.

    Good breakdown of what is an emergency and what is not. I think people tend to get the two confused.


    • Farnoosh

      Hi Gabe, another punctuality advocate! Welcome to the club and thank you for validating the importance of punctuality both at work and in business as well as on social occasions. And if you want to send that emergency definition as a reference to anyone, feel free ;)! Thank you for your comment!

  • AY

    I disagree with this. Punctuality is a very western concept and often stresses our culture out more than we need to be. If more people would go with the flow they would realize that life happens and being on time isn’t really that big of a deal.

    • Farnoosh

      Hello and thank you for adding your thoughts. I grew up in the East and live in the West and with many international friends and family and relatives all my life, I know – as you say – the Eastern culture is more relaxed about the concept of time. I think the best way to respect both cultures is to adopt the accepted norm in the right part of the world. In the Western culture, it matters to be on time and in the Eastern world, less so. If I go back to visit Iran or Turkey again, I will accept it when I am in those countries. Here in the US, I expect punctuality as that is the accepted norm. :)!

  • Michael

    Hi Farnoosh

    I’m almost scared to post this after you ripped me to shreds for my ‘tongue in cheek’ comment about Annabel :)

    I am committed to being on time, especially if it is a business appointment. I tend to be more relaxed when catching up with friends, but nevertheless still like to be on time. I get annoyed when people turn up late to see me, so I can see where your coming from.

    Thanks for sharing.


    • Farnoosh

      Dear Michael, how nice of you to work up the courage. I just stated “erractic” is not a word but she can be eccentric, you got that right :)!
      Oh so glad to hear of more punctual friends among us. I think relaxation can be confused with punctuality sometimes too and I can certainly be understanding. Last night was a friend’s birthday party and we waited 15 minutes before ordering because one person was late. That added some tension for the host, the birthday guy, who had to decide, should we or shouldn’t we? I think it’s important to be on time for all occasions but then again, most of us mean well and are sadly willing to put up with far too much – my hope was to change that trend with this post. Thank you for your comment!

  • Nadia Ballas-Ruta

    Hi Farnoosh,

    I started working when I was 12 and one of the first lessons I learned was to be on time because it was a sign of respect. So I took that lesson to heart and used to get really upset if people were late. I used to think they were being disrespectful to me and took it personally.

    However, with time, I came to see that people are late not out of disrespect for me but for themselves. Once I realized it was not about me but about them, I no longer got bothered. I always have a book in my purse so I just sit down and read or go on Twitter via my mobile phone.

    The way I see it, people give themselves away by the things that they do. Being late tells me a lot about a person. I could write more but then this comment would be too long.

    Have a great day!

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Nadia, thank you *so much* for adding this fabulous perspective and saying so in such carefully chosen words. I really enjoyed your comment and learned from it. I think your approach is serving you very well and keeping you stress-free. I really applaud you for seeing things that way and of course gathering bits and pieces of golden information about the character of those with whom you interact on such occasions. Thank you for adding your thoughts – and you may leave a long comment if you wish!

  • Marion

    Hi Farnoosh
    I loved this post. I want to send lots of people to it. I am pretty laid back about most things but I hate when someone is late – especially if they are a serial late comer.
    I had a boss who was always late for meetings. I wanted to say hey – my time is important too.
    If I am late now – I don’t make an excuse. I tell the truth “I am sorry I have not managed my time well”. I hate saying it so I make a big effort to be on time.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Marion, so lovely to see you and learn more about your wonderful habit of punctuality – bosses are a sensitive spot! I have only been able to make allusions to it in a half-kidding manner while driving myself crazy inside. Those days are gone. If a new boss did that, I would probably politely mention it now. Please share with whomever you wish and I hope it results in more punctual people and less frustration in our days. Thank you for your comment!

  • Keith Davis

    Hi Farnoosh
    Sorry I’ve not visited in a while but now I’m here… hardly recognised your blog.
    You’ve gone all red!

    Punctuality – first of all would you please have a word with my wife… she has never been on time in her life and she has trained my daughter to be exactly the same.

    When I was younger I would have agreed with you about punctuality “Because it is the right thing to do” – but I’ve mellowed as I’ve got older and realised that there is no rule in the big book of life that says “thou shall always be on time”.
    I think that it is good manners to be on time but I don’t get uptight when people are late – and that includes my wife and daughter.

    BTW – many congratulations on a blog that is going from strength to strength.

    • Farnoosh

      Keith, I am happy to talk with your wife and save you from having the conversation but it seems you really have mellowed over the years! You know, you are not alone and yet I think it’s ironic that our patience grows as we grow older because mathematically speaking, we have less time left in our lives but we have more patience for it. So if it does not bother you to wait, by all means, go for it – but it is probably best not to make others wait on you or rather on your family!
      I have not gone red!! I have gone burgundy 😉 and you have been absent a long time. Welcome back and thank you for the smile and good words!

  • Michael Brown

    Great post, Farnoosh. I so agree with your sentiments.
    One of the biggest time wasters at work is meetings which do not start on time. If this is a meeting you have organised, let me suggest that you always start it on time, even if less than half of the participants have arrived. Try and build yourself a reputation for this, and encourage others to do the same: between you you CAN change your company’s culture!

    I always make sure to have the other person’s mobile number to hand so that I can call if I know I have been delayed unavoidably: at least then the other person has some choices they can make, and it reduces the stress on me considerably.

    Love to hear your thoughts on how to deal with Time Wasters!

    • Farnoosh

      Michael, so nice to see you here adding to the conversation. I know you to be the ultimate professional so I am not surprised that punctuality is one of your assets. So as far as handling things, corporate meetings are notorious for starting late. I think the first thing is to bring it to people’s attention because most are in oblivion about timeliness. Then set rules. If you are going to present, start on time. If the host has not shown up, tell them you have a hard stop and since you won’t be able to finish as you have not started on time, it’s best to reschedule and politely excuse yourself. If you wait 10 minutes on a 1:1 with Person A and no show, I suggest leaving. Next time, I would not give Person A 10 minutes. Of course, hierarchy makes things a bit interesting. I think people abuse it. Professionally bringing something up and using the right powerful yet polite words should not get anyone in trouble. We are all professionals. For instance, “I made such a tremendous effort to be here on time and I really regret that I cannot wait until the late-comers show up….” You can find the words. It’s really important to keep it humble, late people are usually very sensitive too. Good luck! You can do it! If nothing works, send them this article. :)!

  • David

    Right on target! One of things that drives me crazy is when people are late, especially since I ensure I ‘m on time for meetings, appointments, etc.

    For those who are habitually late, I always tell them the meeting or appointment time is 15 minutes before the actual time. :-)

    This attitude was ingrained in me in the US Navy. Where the only excuse for being late was hospitalization or you are no longer breathing. :-)

    • Farnoosh

      Thank you David and I am behind the US Navy and salute them for their respect for time! I think you can imagine the rest of the world does not abide by these rules even if they are no military rules but common sense courtesy and etiquette that Moms should have taught their children at some point in time :)! Thank you for validating my obsession with punctuality and for sharing your trick. I just couldn’t do it. I have to be honest and then watch and learn who I am dealing with for future reference!

  • Leah McClellan

    Hi Farnoosh,

    I know what you mean, on a couple levels. Being on time respects someone else’s time and it’s also much less stressful to just take my time and arrive at least a few minutes early.

    But I’m kind of laid back. So I’m wondering what you mean by punctual (maybe I missed it). Do you mean on the dot? For me, I figure someone is on time if they arrive within 15 minutes of the scheduled time. Around here where I live (Philadelphia area), traffic is horrendous. But it’s not just traffic–that you can usually plan for. It’s construction work on the roads when you least expect it. Sure, we should listen to the radio and find out where, exactly, construction might be, but sometimes you miss it. And there are always traffic wrecks or load of mattresses on the road or a truck of eggs dumped lol (seriously, I hear it all the time) whatever goofy stuff that you just can’t expect. Trains messed up sometimes, like when they’re on strike–then traffic is really impossible.

    So–around here anyway and in my experience–15 minutes late is on time. A half hour? That’s getting bad, and a phone call is expected, of course. 45 minutes is approaching inexcusable, and one hour–forget it unless you have a serious reason. And we might as well reschedule. If someone just moved here, I’d especially cut him or her a break.

    For me, I’m usually punctual but I’m not a perfectionist. And if someone raises an eyebrow over 5 or 10 minutes or something, I figure they need a chill pill :) Job interview…well I wouldn’t risk that, but most other stuff.

    Good food for thought.

    • Farnoosh

      Leah, great question – I thought it was implied but you are right that it needs to be defined. To me, punctual means on time or early. 8 o’clock means 8 o’clock. If you arrive at 8:05, you are late. That may be ok with a lot of people’s standards but it’s still past the hour and it’s late. I am not being harsh – just factual. If your area has the kind of traffic that you say, then perhaps all people are expected to be late, since no one aims to be early so as not to be late, so then it’s best to say let’s meet between 8 and 8:30 – at least for the punctual few. A lot of people who replied here with passion for punctuality live in huge metropolitans including London, so I know traffic is prevalent everywhere. So in my opinion, after 10 minutes, I am ready to leave or I’d like a really nice explanation. So perhaps, if you and I have a meeting, I will just arrive at 15 after to not take that chill pill ;)! Thank you for responding!

      • Leah McClellan

        lol For some reason, I have an image of you out in the middle of a highway, pushing wrecked cars to the side with your bare hands and kicking tires to the side and screaming, “Come on, everyone! We can’t be late!” And 5 miles of back-upped traffic finally gets through while cops and tow truck drivers stare at you in disbelief. You just shrug, get in your car, and floor it.



        No explanation isn’t acceptable to me either, neither is disrespect; I just give people the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

        Have an awesome (punctual) day!

        • Farnoosh

          Leah, have you been stocking me?? This is so accurate ;)!
          I would fit that personality greatly – especially in a cartoon. Thank you for making me laugh both by showing humor and also my high expectations of society around me. I do hear you, Leah, and things happen, and I am in person so much kinder to my friends than I appear to be on this post but I really would like for them to be more considerate. Thank you again for being part of this dialogue!

  • Jean Burman

    As an afterthought Farnoosh… I think perhpas being a parent might be one of the universal exceptions to the rule when it comes to being on time. Sometimes the best laid out plans simply don’t work when you’re planning for four or five or even six or seven. As a mom your life is not your own and often the unpredictable happens. Parents have to learn to roll with the punches and go with the flow more than any other group I think. It somehow goes with the territory. Of course it doesn’t excuse lateness… but may on occasion go some way toward explaining it. Just another thought… and thanks again for giving me cause to think about it some more here!

    • Farnoosh

      Jean, I know parents live in their own world of frenzy and last minute issues – I have more friends with kids than not and while I do not have any of my own, I do have a friend who juggles a million things, a career, a serious hobby/sub-career, full-time school and 3 children and she has yet to be late to any appointment in her life! She may be the exception but it shows me that it is more in personality rather than playing victim of circumstance. If I had an appointment with a parent, I would appreciate her or him telling me “We said 8 o’clock but let’s just say between 8 and 8:30 just in case something comes up with my kids.” – Then I am fine. And nothing drives me crazier than a late parent showing up telling me oh it was just something with their kids, “you know how kids are!” – Kids are what they are but it is no excuse to make others wait if one chooses to make an appointment. And I’m afraid I have to stick with this one pretty hard! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and please always do, even and especially if we are agreeing to disagree, Jean :)!

  • Cori Padgett

    While I can’t always claim perfect punctuality, I do strive to be on time always.. sometimes I cut it extremely close! lol I have one member of my family who is notoriously late everywhere, and we always joke and say she’ll be late to her own funeral too! I think punctuality is a great quality to strive for however, because you’re right.. it comes down to a respect issue… respecting the other persons time as much as your own. :)

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Cori, so so nice to see you here adding to this conversation. I do cut it close too sometimes – but close is still on time! I am most happy to see punctuality so well-represented here in this post with all wonderful readers and bloggers alike, you included! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • Julian Bourne

    Excellent post. Your advice on how to treat late arrivals is very thoughtful. It is so difficult to calibrate how angry you should be, with whom and when. I recently wrote a post on the NY Giants coach who sidelined two of his star players for being late.

    A manager should acknowledge that late comers are damaging their authority and if such behavior continues, it will spread, and damage the team performance. I think it is good policy for a manager to remind their late employee that their late arrival is likely due to lack of focus, lack of self-discipline or an inability to organize. All three traits can damage a career.

    Late comers often rush and that can lead to erratic, sometimes dangerous driving and speeding, which can damage their health too.

    As you mentioned traffic is the number one excuse. After all how can people know about something they don’t know about. It was never a valid excuse and is less so today.

    For people you are struggling with punctuality try Prompt – the punctuality app available on all BlackBerry devices, Appworld and VCast. Prompt is useful for daily commutes and other important meetings because it is aware of unusual traffic on your next journey and tells you to leave early so you arrive on time.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Julian, thank you so much for the vote of confidence on punctuality and especially highlighting for us how it is most detrimental if not observed by a single player in a team. Teamwork relies on each individual’s participation to success and late arrivals can seriously damage morale! Thank you for sharing your thoughts here with us and for listing the side effects of being late all the time! Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  • whisperinggums

    Catching up with posts after a busy time. Love this one. The number 1 issue for me (a punctual person) is your point 3, the not respecting the other person’s time. I know I have let one friend get away with it for so long because I am not good at the tough conversations. I know they can be done nicely but I find it so hard to do. My father has an inveterately late sister. There was a period when she was in her 40s and single that my Dad would pick her up and drive her into work. He told her if she wasn’t ready he’d go. I believe he did once. She was never late (for him to pick her up) again but that ability to organise herself hasn’t flowed through.

    The saddest thing I ever heard though was a friend talking, years ago, about her youth. She said she always arrived early because she knew she wasn’t one of the “in” people and so would be forgotten if she weren’t there. No-one would wait for her. I was impressed by her pragmatism but my heart went out to awareness of “position” amongst her so-called friends.

    • Farnoosh

      Lovely to see you here, Sue – and so glad you like this one – and you know well already that I agree with you 100%! It is indeed not easy with friends. Perhaps an occasional tease or maybe just a sincere talk where you show them that it hurts your feelings to be waiting for them and to not be shown respect without any confrontation on the matter will go a long way. Good – and somewhat sad – stories, thank you so much for sharing them with us – and long live punctuality! :)

  • Henway

    Great post. I think being punctual is so important even though it seems like a small deal. It all adds up, and being late numerous times eventually creates negativity among friendships. Even if you’re very close, share many close moments and experiences, it’s the little things that make or break a relationship. Being late just tells me you don’t care very much, even though it may not be the truth.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Henway, thank you so much for the vote of confidence on the topic of punctuality. I can’t tell you how right you are when it comes to your assessment on the underlying issues that are created from lack of punctuality among friends. I agree and find it so sad because many people – not everyone but many it seems – simply do not seem to see it and it is exhausting to shift the trend in the right direction but I am not giving up and hope that neither are you!

  • late

    Actually, I over schedule myself all the time, I have two jobs which take priority right now, but I still want to see my friends. However, I must choose, will I see them and be late or should I just tell them I cant make it and not schedule an event at all…I am afraid being punctual will isolate me more than being late. I on the other hand do not mind when people are late (since I am always running late anyway, and if I am on time I bring something to do while I wait incase someone is late)…

    • Farnoosh

      Hi “late”, well, I think if you TELL them you will be late and set expectations, then it is up to them to either wait or go on without you. So as long as you can set some expectations, if you are early – great, what a surprise – but if you are late, they already know. And it’s nice that you have compassion for others who are not punctual. Those of us who are have a hard time with that one….hence, this post :)!
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts!!!

  • Dave

    Hi friends,

    Talking about punctual in life, i have been comment by others around me as a person A. Now i’m realize how worse i am before this by hurting, insult people around me. This blog teach me a lot, how to be a prefect in life. I’m not gonna apologize but i’m gonna change my self by not being late and respect others.

    Thanks to u Farnoosh.

    • Farnoosh

      Dave, so sorry about the late reply; gosh, I bet you’ll never see this but here’s hoping you do. I really reply to all my comments right away but this one slipped through the cracks….
      So having said that, I am actually very confused by your comment. Are you punctual or late? Hopefully the latter, :)

  • Rosy

    Great post.
    good article, I enjoy reading it.
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    • Farnoosh

      Great, so happy to hear it. Spread the love of punctuality for us please.

  • Tina

    I am always punctual and am very hurt by people who are not. Its like they do not respect my time. I love you suggestions!

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Tina, I am sorry you get hurt. I do too, frankly. Well, more angry than hurt – and yes, they don’t “mean” to but it is a complete disrespect of our time. No other way to explain it. Educate, educate! :)

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  • Caroline McGraw

    Thank you for this post, Farnoosh! I was inspired by your words, and I’m with you on the importance of punctuality as an expression of respect and love…it shows that you don’t take the people in your life for granted.

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  • vp ahmed

    I love punctuality and try it the maximum possible. Thank you for your great article. would you find time to read my post ?

    • Farnoosh

      Thank you for stopping by, dear VP Ahmed. I will certainly stop by if I get a chance. Thanks for the invite!

  • ceiling fans with lights

    I love punctuality in others. This is a great website with lots of forex information that can help a lot of people, keep up the good work.
    I like it…

    • Farnoosh

      Me too. Thank you for stopping by. Glad you liked the post.

  • Dani

    Great article! Punctuality is something I’ve been thinking about lately. My parents and I had this on-going joke about how Hispanic people are always late. My dad is pastor of a Hispanic church and I know how frustrating it is for him when the members are so careless about their punctuality. My best friend’s mom is from a spanish country but it never ceases to astound me how the only “spanish” trait about my best friend is that she is late. Always. To dates, church, school, weddings, meetings… absoloutley everything. It’s sad because I feel like I can’t count on her anymore, and because of it we’re not spending as much time together.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Dani, how lovely to see a new (and gorgeous) face. Darling, I am from Iran and when my aunt would say “We’ll be there at 8pm to pick you up.” we were lucky – LUCKY – if she showed up before 9pm. Those were years ago but I still remember it! It’s not a pretty quality in someone, no matter how much we want to “forgive” them and be easy going. So I totally hear you. And I too do not understand it except that these people simply do not have any concept of “time” :)! Thanks for sharing and do send this post over to her, see what she thinks! Come back anytime, Dani and thanks for your comment.

  • Alicia

    I disagree and don’t like your attitude, although, admittedly it’s the typical response. What people who are punctual ignore is that they were trained this way as children. This isn’t a habit. Being punctual has too many steps to it to be a habit. It’s something one is trained to do. Those who are not punctual don’t think they’re something special. Someone said that once and now those who are punctual have latched onto it and use it as an excuse to be judgmental and contemptuous.
    I was not trained to be punctual. Late adults were late children. When my husband was alive, he trained me, taught me many things: like to time how long it took me to do morning things with a timer, to round time to the nearest half hour, etc., etc.
    Now that he’s been killed by a drunk driver I’m back to lateness – which I’ve been working on. Training oneself is very difficult. I was on time for my daughter yesterday. I am quite late for my own bedtime tonight….

    • Farnoosh

      Alicia, thanks for your comment. By the way, that response you emailed me, which I will copy here, is a reply to Sue’s comment not mine. Here’s my reply. Sorry if the email confused you …

      I don’t have an attitude and I am just brutally honest and it does not go over well with everyone. I am fine with that. :) There is no factual evidence in what you are saying here; there is no such thing as a “late” gene. Being late is simply a choice, and yes, it can become a habit. When you are late to meeting others, it is natural for people to assume that you do not respect their time. You may not do so intentionally but the choice was made that something was more important than being punctual. It’s choosing one thing over the other, and taking responsibility for our actions. If you choose to be late, there are always consequences, and if you choose to be ok with them, that’s your choice. I choose otherwise. Everyone has a choice. People who are late do not have “late” parents and the reverse is not true either, I’m afraid. I am sure it is difficult to change habits but to blame other things is not going to help. Thank you for your thoughts.

  • Whispering Gums

    You make some interesting points Alicia – says she jumping in on Farnoosh’s blog but I don’t think she minds! I’m sure training is part of it, but do you think it is all? For example, if you have paid for a plane fare or for a show at the theatre, do you regularly miss them or do you make them on time? If you do make them on time, why can you make those things by the required/set time but not other things? Is the fear of wasting your money enough to spur you into action? But then, what about the fear of keeping someone waiting and wasting their time? (When I use “you” here I’m meaning of course late/tardy people in general). I have a good friend and a relation who always make a formal event (plane, movie, etc) but regularly (and I mean regularly) keep me waiting when I’m meeting them for, say, lunch. I can’t really see that childhood training is the *complete* answer to this differential behaviour, but would love to hear your perspective.

    BTW I’m so sorry to hear about the way you lost your husband. What a dreadful thing you have had to face.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Sue, here is what Alicia said in response but it came to me in email: “Oh, I’ve missed planes, believe you me! And had to stand outside theater doors with other late-comers, missing the first Scene. I just don’t like the author’s (and other people’s) smug attitude. I’ve been thin all my life. If I treated fat people the way she treats late people, I’d have no friends. Fat people need more than, “Just don’t eat fast food or HFCS!”, just like late people need not to be told that they think they are better than others.

      I can’t speak to your friend’s behavior. I’ll guess that he has forced himself to conquer his lateness as much as he absolutely has to and no more.

      Thank you so much for the sympathy; I appreciate it.

      I already replied above to her comments. There is no validity whatsoever in a “late” gene. It is simply a choice. And choices are made with consequences and we all make our own. Great discussion. Thanks much!

    • Farnoosh

      Sue it’s lovely to see you here. Why not try showing up a half hour late to those appointments with your friend, and see if he even notices? When you are set to meet at 8, show up at 8:30. Sometimes, the only message that comes across is when we show someone what they are putting us through. It’s not to be mean; it’s just a way of conveying a point. If it were me, I’d not be wasting my time with people who do not respect me REGULARLY. But again, it’s all a choice.

      • Whispering Gums

        Fair enough too Farnoosh BUT I find it REALLY hard to be late. If I’m waiting for her with another friend at a restaurant (three of us have a weekly lunch) we just go ahead and order (after about 10 mins). If I’m on my own, I always have my book. (It was worse in the past when we both worked at the same place and would arrange to meet in the foyer … hanging around there when I could have been working was pretty maddening!) The thing is she is about my dearest friend, and she provided me with a lot of support in a very difficult time in my life. Lateness is her failing and I’ve decided to live with it (as has her husband!).

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  • Nick Sumpter

    I mostly enjoyed the piece however I disagreed with a few points. “Children making you late” is not an emergency however it happens more than it should to those parents like myself who have three or more young children. My job as a parent never ends, even when I am at work. It is both a priviledge and a blessing to be a parent. And I take it far more seriously than I care about some adult’s time or respect. I believe in a healthy emphasis on puntuality along with an emphasis of taking care of important things. Children are important, they matter. They are not an inconvenience, they are people. I also believe in managing my tardiness under those circumstances by calling ahead to the persons who are awaiting my arrival. “Arguments with the spouse.” I honestly don’t know of a married man, who wishes to remain married, who refuses to take the time out for an argument. If you do not, the message you send is that your event you would be late for is more important than what the most important person in your life has to say. It kinda speaks for itself. The local hotel will keep the light on for you if you decide to leave in a middle of an argument. So things just should take precedence over others, an argument with the spouse is one of them. “Pets” can also make you late. You can’t leave poop in the middle of the floor because the person who was supposed to walk Fido failed to do so. This is a health and safety issue. If someone, with children, stated to me that they left feces on the floor I’m calling the local child services department immediately. And they will be punctual in coming to pick your kids. And if there are no kids, I’m calling PETA.

    In short, punctality is very important. But like everything else in life, it has it’s limits. I’ve lived long enough to know that you need to value the people in your life and accept people for who they are. If someone is a friend and they are always late, you can try to encourage them but they’re not going to change. I don’t think people can change. However I have seen it happen.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi dear Nick, thank you so much for your thoughts and for adding to this conversation. You make a lot of good points and I think the best thing to do in these situations, if I were on the receiving end of meeting with you, is to say that I could be late because all these things could come up so the time that we meet is tentative, that way I am not left waiting …. I can understand that things come up but if it is a problem over time, I lose my confidence in meeting someone on time, and that’s fine, I just need to know that the time that I have set with someone could become null based on all these other precedences. I take my appointments and meetings very seriously, so if the feeling isn’t mutual with the other person, I just like to know it in advance. Some of the stuff you talk about is an emergency, although we could go back and forth about whether the spouse argument or the children’s wishes and desires are an emergency or not for a while ;)!
      Thanks, I enjoyed our exchange.

  • Nick Sumpter

    By the way, there are two events in our lives we will always be on time for ……
    1) Your birth (Cause God is always on time)
    2) Your death (God is calling you home)

    • Farnoosh

      Ummm. Right. I suppose so :)!

  • Nick Sumpter

    My attitude comes from a long lost co-worker who was having difficulty navigating their way to work one morning. He hit bottleneck traffic and attempted to find an alternate route. Unfortuanately, he never made it into work. My company had a temp in the office by 1pm that afternoon. My take away is being punctual is great as long as you are living. We live everyday attempting to manage this inanimate thing called “time.” Never to conquer it. Show people you value that which tangible, the person.

  • fido

    Well in the material world i would agree with you but as the CEO of coca cola says : your career can bounce back , but your family can’t .

    there should be a balance both ways,
    I guess doing job is kinda like another form of slavery but should be soo tough

    • Farnoosh

      I really don’t see what family has to do with the habit of punctuality, Fido. Sure family is more important than work but what kind of reason is that for being late? :)!

  • Denis

    As they say: “Later than 5 minutes early is already late…”

    • Farnoosh

      Oh I do like that, Denis. Very well said :)!

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  • PeiWei Lin

    great article, and i’m sometimes suffering for my friends being late. I’m usually 5 to 10 minutes earlier or at least be right on the spot.
    I’m going to make a persuasive speech in class today, so I’m going to persuade my classmates try to make a little different in their life and see the positive changes.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi PeiWei, that sounds good, just talk to people about the positive changes of adding punctuality to their life :)!

  • Kaylyn

    I LOVE this article. I am going to show it to my SO, we are very different. he never sticks to his word and always “forgets” he does not realize how important it is to not do that. I think “forgetting” to do something you said you would is just as bad as being late for something. I don’t feel I can relate on him and it’s a huge problem, especially because I don’t want our daughter growing up like that, hopefully she picks up on the way I do things because i too am very punctual, i don’t care how big or small it is. whether its for work or something that isn’t a huge deal, people should always stick to their word the best they possibly can.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Kaylyn, oh dear, I really hear you – I have had friends who have had no sense of time, and an aunt who, God bless her, would generally be an hour to two hours late to a rendez-vous she would swear she will meet, I really love how you want to instill punctuality in your child – that’s wonderful – but children watch both parents and you are both role models. I’d say start with your SO :)! All the very best to you – I am so glad to meet other kindred spirits who get punctuality like you do, Kaylyn!

  • Kaylyn

    I meant to say rely* on him, not relate.

  • Jen

    I’ve always had issues being late and have beaten myself up over it for years. I turn down outings with friends so that I don’t disappoint. I get anxiety trying to get ready to make it on time to special events… I envy those I know that are always on time. It’s effected my self-esteem to the point where I’ve broken down in tears and many times, prefer to isolate myself rather than take the risk of causing disappointment and enduring embarrassment. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago, after being diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, that I found out that chronic lateness it is a typical trait of ADHD/ADD (focus issues). That, along with several other typical traits that I possessed. I agree that being punctual is extremely important — something that I constantly struggle with everyday, but hope and dream to master. Not everyone that is late has ADHD/ADD. But I just thought I’d share this perspective so that one might keep this in mind the next time they come across someone that is late all the time. There may be something more to it than the person just being inconsiderate.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Jen, thanks so much for sharing this….. and if you allow me, I want to give you a different angle to think about it. So please don’t get mad at me but I don’t believe in ADHD/ADD disease/condition whatever they call it. I think it’s a way to label people who are perfectly fine, including you. So what I want to tell you is what if you started to tell yourself positive affirmations like ‘I’m always on time’ I’m always punctual. I make my appointments.’ I know this is radical and far from what doctors want you to hear, but what if you tried positive affirmations. Those ADHD/ADD labels make you think something is wrong with you and that’s not true. EVERYTHING is in your control. You can become the most punctual person if you desire. You can become the most focused person if you desire and the how is first by removing that ugly label because nothing is wrong with you and then you will start to believe that you really can be punctual and focused etc…. I know this is radical and you may discard it, and that’s fine but this is what I truly believe and wanted to share. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Ron Helpman

    All good points, Farnoosh, but I think it’s important to be aware that in many cases people who are chronically late don’t want to be late and are making good faith efforts to be on time.
    For example, people who have a “right brain” style of thinking, who are often involved in creative pursuits, aren’t very good at planning. They tend to live in their imagination, and aren’t interested in, and aren’t very good at the quantifying and analyzing that makes for effective planning. They don’t take to making linear plans and like to be spontaneous.
    Also, as Gen explains in her reply, people who have attentional issues can lose track of the time when immersed in task and/or may be easily distracted from the preparation task at hand.
    All of this doesn’t mean that these people have the right to keep others waiting. Instead, they need to develop tools to deal with the underlying issues.
    As far as how to talk to the person who’s always keeping you waiting, being angry with them is probably just going to make them even more defensive than they already are. They are already aware of the consequences of their lateness, but something is getting in the way of them being on time.
    As a first step, one might want to educate one’s self about the many reasons people are chronically late. This may help you feel less personally affronted by their behavior.
    I suggest telling the person how their lateness makes you feel rather than labeling him or her as “inconsiderate” or lecturing about how they “should” behave. Note that you understand that the person might not intend this. Emphasize what you value about them. Doing this in a letter or card gives them the opportunity to think about what you are saying without going on the defensive. You can give them helpful resources.
    Based on my work with chronically late clients, I’ve created a web site for late people and those who wait for them. I discuss the many causes of lateness and offer tools for addressing them.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Ron, thanks for your points. I don’t really agree with your view point but appreciate you sharing your insights.
      What would those people who are “not intentionally” but yet chronically late feel if their employer was “unintentionally late” on their paychecks or their clients didn’t pay on time or their utilities didn’t work on time or the people who cater to them were “unintentionally late” – I am both left & right brained. I have engineering and technical degrees and speak several languages. I think being late is just an excuse. And YES, being late is completely inconsiderate, period. The only way I would be willing to consider the other side if they could experience what it’s like waiting on someone else and having their time wasted and their own plans ignored because someone else was chronically late.
      And just to prove my point, I worked with a client myself and convinced her that there is NOTHING wrong with her – she just needs to believe that she can be on time (what a concept) and it worked. She was punctual for 6 months and shocked that just by planning to be on time, she was indeed on time. So, I don’t think it’s as complicated as you make it, Ron, but I appreciate your insights. Just don’t agree with your viewpoint.

  • Ron Helpman

    Sounds like your faith in the client helped her break out of what can be a vicious cycle of feeling attacked and misunderstood and resentful. Nice!

    • Farnoosh

      Absolutely! And that’s my whole point: I have faith in everyone that they can be on time 100% of the time without an excuse if only they desire to be. There is nothing preventing them other than a desire and a little planning. :) Those who are late and say it’s just something that can’t be helped need a change of perspective… :)

  • Jill M. Brice

    Well, my name is Jill. Today, I was upset because I made every possible effort to arrival to my clinical class site on time and I was penalized for being 3 mins late due to inclement wheather. I live in SW Charlotte,NC and my clinical site is in Huntersville, NC. Maybe a good 50 min or so away from home. I was angered by my instructor because often she has been late for teaching our class and provides no explanation and she demisses our class sometimes 45-50 early so she can go to her second job. She assigned me to write a paper on why being punctual is important. I do respect others peoples time; however, I felt this is really unfair. When the pot is calling the kettle black! Hint: My teacher is black and so am I; and worst of all it’s a black owned business. There is a lot of unprofessionalism; however, as so many of you have pointed out I could have been killed in an accident and no one would care because then I would be the “late” Jill. I know how to look at the man in the mirror as MJ used to sing about. I just think inclement wheather should have been on the list of emergencies… Thanks for the vent, Jill!

    • Farnoosh

      Jill, I totally give you that one. Safety first and this one is taking things way too far. 3 minutes? Ridiculous for punishing you for that. I am totally with you and as you know from my other replies, I am not shy to admit what I really feel so do believe me that I totally sympathize and agree with you. This one was circumstantial and glad you took care of your own safety first and foremost by not driving fast. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and don’t be shy to bring up the hypocrisy of the instructor to the surface with her in a professional and calm way.

  • Lorena

    I’m usually late for work and for work only. I usually do my best to be on time at church, at school, appointments, etc. It is really hard for me to get up early to come to work, mostly because I don’t feel motivated. What can I do to change this pattern?

    • Farnoosh

      Lorena, if you are only late for work then it’s obvious you can be on time if you wanted to. Maybe it’s an indication you don’t like your work or don’t want to be there, and maybe take this as a sign to take a deeper look at your career perhaps. I know it may not be the answer you need but I don’t believe we have to MAKE ourselves be anywhere on time. We have to want to be there. Ya know! And I totally hear you. I hated my job before I quit and started my own business…..

      • Lorena

        Farnoosh, thanks for sharing your honest opinion with me, and thanks for hearing me out. I really appreciate it. I liked what you said about not having to MAKE me be anywhere on time, but really wanting to be there. I will definitely think about it. God bless.

  • Su Amar

    Hi, This happened a few hours ago. There is a local tennis tournament (@Charlotte and, Concord NC) taking place this weekend. My son and another child were to play doubles against twin brothers. Match was at 4pm and we were there by 3:45pm and registered our arrival. Now the fun started, we were asked to wait because these two players did not show up. Four o’clock came 4:30pm came and went, 4:45pm came and passed and 5pm came and passed and every time we checked with the officials they asked us to wait because the other team was on their way. Finally they arrived at 5:18pm for the 4pm game. I am just wondering, to me disqualifying the other team would have been the right thing. What was even more ___(please fill in a word, I am not able to think of a positive word) was that their parents seem to be blissful about it, and had this smirk on their face. Wow!
    Thank you for reading thru.
    Su Amar

    • Farnoosh

      Inconsiderate is the answer. And when we tolerate such things, then they continue. So the simple solution is to not tolerate it. I am sorry Su Amar, some people are incredibly inconsiderate but they CAN change if they are given no option. I hope you can experience better times with them and thanks for sharing this. Glad to see your punctuality though :)

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  • Alex

    Finally, someone who feels the exact same way about tardiness as I do. I could not have said this any better. I feel that many people today, especially the younger generations (unfortunately mine), have completely ignored the importance of being on time. People show up late to my college class constantly. My friends are always late to meet me. My boyfriend is always a half hour to an hour late. I’m dying to see how they get around in the “real world” when they’re late to a job interview or late to their jobs. People need to understand that being late not only shows that you’re not reliable, but also shows that you’re not trustworthy.

    And the comment about traffic not being a new concept, I could not agree more. However, there are certain instances where there is an unexpected accident. In this case it would be excusable but only if they gave some warning beforehand if possible.

    My boyfriend is always late to class or completely misses our morning class because he is a heavy sleeper and has trouble waking up. But it’s always really hard for me to feel sympathy for this kind of thing. It’s not some sudden shock that you have trouble getting up in the morning. By now you should have planned ahead for that and figured out a way to wake yourself up in the mornings, am I right?

    But anyway, thanks so much for this article! 8 o’clock means 8:00. Not 8:03. If you’re not 5 minutes early, you’re late.

  • Pat

    Thank you for your article. I am the typical type A person and I am so frustrated with myself for it. My New Year’s resolution, in fact I have already started is to change this terrible habit. You are right, it is a personal choice and I am so serious that I’m on the web looking for ways and ideas to change! Your 11 Reasons why Punctuality Matters, points out who I want to be vs. the illusion of who I think I am. Punctuality says it all. Thanks for a new perspectihve.

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  • Solara

    Thank you! I want to change, It’s so bad that after I changed my job to this new company which is much more flexible, I literally pushing their limit. I even arrived at office while everyone is going for lunch. And sometimes I could even be late punctually: I arrive at office same times everyday, but it’s late. But I used to work in a more strict company, and I actually have a pretty good record, now why can’t I go back to me like that time? Though what really stressed me out is trying to get to the office on time, I hate that feeling, but I hate it too when I’m late and I feel guilty and frustrated. Because when I was on time at least I could feel proud. I did it too for other appointments, I refused to let go what I’m doing and I ended up late again and again. My boyfriend is a really punctual guy, but I’m so bad that I would make him wait for me about every time we are going for dating. My mind said want to stop it but my body doing the opposite instead. I need to make the right choice all over again.