People Who Are Always Late Are More Successful and Creative

Kelsey Clark

People who never seem to make it to work on time are often chided as being rude and self-centered. But a closer inspection of the personality traits that belie this bad habit sheds a positive—even enviable—light on repeatedly leaving your friends and family members waiting at the restaurant.

As pointed out by Business Insider’s Sabrina Hoffman and John Stanley Hunter, having a somewhat disconnected sense of time can be linked to optimism, a type B personality, and a tendency to multitask both at home and at the office—all arguably positive traits. Here’s their logic:

Multitasking has a tendency to make you lose all sense of time—a phenomenon that researcher Jeff Conte from the psychology department at San Diego State University sought to explore in his research on polychronicity and personality types. Conte found that those who preferred multitasking were late to their jobs more often than those who did not. While this could be considered a downside of juggling multiple things at once, those who resort to multitasking likely have a lot on their plate—just ask any small-business owner or busy working mother.

B personality types, while not as competitive and organized as A types, are considered to be more creative, laid-back, and innovative individuals who have a more lax perception of time. Conte also explored this correlation in his research on lateness, finding that those who fell under the type B category actually perceived time to be passing more slowly. Across three separate trials, type A individuals estimated that a minute had passed in 58 seconds, while type Bs stopped the clock after 77 seconds. Though seemingly minimal, those 18 seconds can really add up.

Hoffman and Hunter write that optimists tend to believe they have more time on their hands than they actually do, causing them to move somewhat leisurely through life. This idea is closely related to the popular “planning fallacy” often used by psychologists to explain chronic lateness. Simply put, this theory holds that people consistently underestimate how long a task will take, leading them to a life of lateness. While the link between the two may be a bit of a stretch, it’s a refreshingly positive take on a habit that’s so demonized within our popular culture.

While Hoffman and Hunter’s assertions fall slightly short of scientific, they do make some good points. A tendency to look at the bigger picture rather than getting caught up in the minutiae of everyday life is what entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and artistic visionaries are made of. So what if you miss an appointment here and there?

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