Take your time: chronically late people live longer

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

If, like me, you're punctual to a fault (read: 15 minutes early to everything) then here's some news to brighten up your afternoon: basically we're going to die earlier and be less successful than our tardy mates.

Cheery stuff, hey?

Let me just say from the outset that I'm a big fan of science. Love it. But sometimes, science comes out with findings that just aren't fair - and this is one of them. So how did science come to this (frankly appalling) conclusion? Well, as it turns out, being chronically late is linked to a number of different personality traits and characteristics, which also happen to be linked to better health, longer lives and more success.

Yeah it's enough to make you want to throw your watch (i.e. phone) in the ocean and just rock up to work/school/social functions whenever the mood takes you.

Let's take a look at some of the research. 

Late people are less stressed:

Not worried about missing appointment times, frustrating their mates or seeing deadlines fly by, late people tend to be less stressed and less stress means fewer health problems - and a longer life.

Late people are more optimistic:

"Many late people tend to be both optimistic and unrealistic," explains Diana DeLonzor, author of Never Be Late Again. "They remember that single shining day 10 years ago when they really did all those things in 60 minutes flat, and forget all the other times that everything took much, much longer." Yep, your chronically late chum genuinely believes they can drop the kids at school, pick up the dry cleaning, and respond to a work email before your 10am coffee date.


But that "can do" attitude pays dividends when it comes to health.

A review of research published by Harvard Medical School notes that not only does optimism help people cope with disease and recover from surgery,  but it also has a positive impact on health and longevity. "Research tells us that an optimistic outlook early in life can predict better health and a lower rate of death during follow-up periods of 15 to 40 years," they write.

Optimism can also lead to more success too. One classic study found that Insurance agents with an "optimistic outlook"  outsold their pessimistic colleagues by as much as 21 per cent in the first year and 57 per cent in the second year.

Late people feel time differently

Having a sunny outlook isn't the only thing associated with being late. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's the laid-back Type B types who'll leave you sitting in the cafe alone, 17 minutes (and 37 seconds) after you agreed to meet. The thing is, not really their fault. See, according to a series of studies conducted by psychology professor Jeff Conte, Type A and Type B individuals actually feel time pass differently. While Type As felt a minute passed in 58 seconds (see, efficient!), Type Bs decided a minute was up in 77 seconds. Well that explains quite a lot ...