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Being chronically late is a sign of optimism

If you are someone who is never late, it can be hard not to find those that constantly are a bit intolerable. Borderline arrogant, even. ‘The party doesn’t start until I get here’ kind of annoying vibe. Or the scatty can’t-keep-on-top-of-everything-sorry-sorry type who you just feel spends all day wondering what it would be like to be a unicorn.

According to a piece in Quartz, we need to start being a bit kinder to our tardy friends. Lateness is not a sign of superiority or ineptitude – it’s actually a sign of optimism. “It’s OK, I’ve got three minutes before I have to leave, that’s enough time to send twelve emails, put a wash on and call my accountant,” the cheerful late person thinks, mentally ticking off their to-do list with a sense of great satisfaction. “The walk to the station will only take me nine minutes,” they say to themselves, when actually it takes fifteen – because nine minutes is all they’ve got. One good experience, like a breezy journey into work, convinces them this is the norm and means they don’t allow for anything ever going wrong. It’s so lovely, like living in a Disney film.

Except, boo, there are sometimes things like meetings that run over time or people who don’t email back or road works and other such inconveniences that disrupt the jolly equilibrium. All these things work against our late friends and their conviction that they are superhumans who can get twice as much done in one day as they actually can. They don’t cater for the unpredictable. Which makes them late. And then they feel bad. Baaaaad.

Before anyone feels like a foot has just appeared á la Monty Python to stamp on the optimism of the late, the good news is, it hasn’t. Quartz suggests that it’s not the confident attitude that everything will work out just fine that should take the hit. Instead, they should mentally put their superhero capes in a drawer and try to cram fewer things into one day, therefore giving themselves more time. Time to get there on time. Time to spend more time thinking about unicorns.

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