Being late all the time isn’t just quirky behavior – it could be a sign you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder. 

San Francisco State University researchers had hundreds of adults complete a questionnaire that asked about their mental health and timeliness. 

The result? Researchers found that people aren’t usually late because they’re rude or flighty. Instead, there’s usually an underlying psychological condition, like anxiety, depression, or plain old indecision and doubt. 

In fact, most chronically tardy people tested positive for ADD symptoms, like restlessness, and trouble focusing. And they were much likelier to have poor self-control, and do things like overeat, drink, gamble, and go on shopping binges.

Diana Delonzor wrote the book “Never Be Late Again” – and she says, being late is a complex problem. It’s not just a control thing, or because you're selfish or inconsiderate. Chronic lateness is a psychological issue. And she says that simply warning a chronically late person not to be late is just like telling a dieter “Just don’t eat Cheetos” – in other words, totally ineffective!

So, here are her strategies to tackle tardiness: 

  • First: Look for patterns. Are you late to everything or just some things? For example, if you’re only late to work – it’s probably a sign you’re not happy at your job. 

  • But if you’re always 10 minutes late to everything – that’s a psychological hurdle. Maybe you're afraid of downtime, or you don’t like leaving the house, or you feel that you have to cram as much into your day as possible, or the stress of being late gives you an adrenaline rush. If any of that describes you – you should talk to a counselor. 

  • But if you arrive 10 minutes to one thing and 30 minutes to another, the problem is your time management skills. You underestimate how long things take to get done. So you need to literally time yourself doing tasks – and then add a 15-minute cushion to everything you plan to do.