Why Am I Always Running Late

I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to be running late when your name is the Time Tamer. If I’m doing a talk or attending a meeting I always have a little disclaimer that while that might be my name, I am good at managing my time it doesn’t mean I’m always running on time. It’s a constant work in progress let me tell you!


Most people find late people to be rude. We can perceive them as inconsiderate or disorganized. Rest assured, those that are running late, are painfully aware and highly stressed by the disruption their lateness may be causing. However, here’s a little secret. Highly productive people will often run late because they want to achieve one more thing before they leave. So it is often those that hurt the most, knowing their lateness has created a sense of chaos for others.

And then there are those that like the buzz of doing things last minute and scraping in by the skin of their teeth.


There are some excuses we can tolerate, traffic, car park, illness etc, but sometimes we can smell a rat. Don’t get caught in the trap of making lofty excuses, that your time has been consumed with more pressing issues of big-thinking or that you’re exhausted by bigger things.

If you find yourself constantly making excuses for your lateness, start listening to what you’re saying.  Don’t rely on this as a ‘get-out-jail-free’ card. Is there a fear associated with your task, project or meeting that’s causing you to be late?  For example, “I would have been here earlier but I couldn’t decide what to wear”. Or perhaps you want to check your work over and over, you have a level of anxiety or lack of confidence about a delivery or deadline. Try taking that “but” word out of your language.


Wherever you are there is a culture of what can be defined as being on time. For example, a friend can say “come by anytime after 6 pm” yet when you rock up at 7 pm it’s too late. Here in the Territory if a social event is shared as starting at 6 pm, that’s not the time you turn up. You don’t turn up before that time as you’ll be too early but pretty much any time after is going to be okay.

I wrote an article in the Alice Springs Centralian Advocate recently about “Territory Time”. Expected time frames are completely different in the Territory, for many reasons. Things such as travelling and heat impact on how people operate. You can not always expect people to be on time because of interference with travel. Plus people move and operate slower in the hotter weather, or more likely to cancel and stay at home when it’s cold. Plus don’t expect to get hold of anyone on a Friday afternoon.  So be clear about what your terms of on time and late are when setting your appointments. If others frustrate you with their interpretation of on time or late, be clear. For example, in your meeting invite state that the meeting time is 8:15 am for an 8:30 am start. Or tell people what you’ll do if they’re late. For example, the party is at 7 pm but we’ll start eating dinner at 8 pm whether everyone has arrived or not.


  • Allow for pack up time when planning to leave. Set a time for “tools down”.
  • Allow for the unexpected such as traffic or finding a park.
  • Set the boundaries.


  • Try and squeeze in that last task.
  • Keep making excuses. Plan to be early or address the hidden issues.
  • Assume that people operate to your time frames.

If you’d like to try a Complimentary Coaching session to see if Time Management Coaching is right for you. Click Here to make an appointment at a time convenient for you.

Or if you’re not sure about coaching and would like to try 3 different styles, join us for our Alice Springs EventRotational Coaching

About the Author:

Barbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a time management & stress management enthusiast based in Alice Springs, Australia. She has spent over 20 years working in time precious and stressful industries such as film, hospitality and marketing. She has always had a burning passion for creating order and making sense of things. She is sought after like a beacon in a sea of chaos to provide professional development in the business environment through workshop training, coaching, mentoring, online training programs, webinars and as a guest speaker around Australia. Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships. Follow Barbara on Twitter @barbclifford.