Do you always find yourself running to the bus, being 20 minutes late to meetings and constantly falling behind? The chances are that you are a time optimist.

The White Rabbit

The White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland  – Image Credit: Russ Sanderlin (Flickr)

We all have that one friend who is always running late no matter the occasion. This friend is a so-called time optimist.

The time optimist is also referred to as ‘punctually challenged’ or a procrastinator.

There are, however, distinct differences between being a time optimist and a procrastinator.

A time optimist is a person who repetitively misjudges the time it takes to accomplish different tasks.

A procrastinator, on the other hand, is a person who, when working against a deadline, put things off to the last minute.

It is later than you think

“Time optimists generally do not realise that their lateness offends people” – Image Credit: DukeUnivLibraries (Flickr)

A common mistake made by time optimists is the belief that they can achieve more than is actually possible within their timeframe and they ultimately miscalculate the time it takes for certain tasks to be completed. As a consequence of this poor time management, time optimists often feel as if they have failed and that they will never catch up with the things they have to do.

We all have a different relationship to time. To NRKPsychologist John Petter Fagerhaug, who has been working a lot with stress and time management, said he found that some people are just not aware or engaged with time and it is almost a part of their personality.

People with a more, lets say, ‘punctual nature’ often find time optimist disrespectful and rude. However, the Swedish paper Chef argued in their article, ‘Teach yourself to love the time optimist’, that even though they have the annoying habit of always being late, time optimists often work very hard, show creativity and attain great results.


“We all have that one friend who is always running late no matter the occasion” – Image Credit: Georgie Pauwels (Flickr)

Unpunctual people are often very organised in their heads even though their daily lives may seem chaotic. They are often creative and innovative.

Dr Werner Silfverskiöld, Chef, 10 December 2014

Chef also stated that there is little chance that a time optimist will change because the disregard for punctuality is in their nature. This is evident as time optimists are late even when they had good time to start with.

Unpunctuality can be a result of the person’s upbringing and the values taught at home. A time optimist probably did not grow up in a home where punctuality was considered a virtue.

Always-be-late o'clock

“Some people are just not aware or engaged with time and it is almost a part of their personality” – Image Credit:  Jorge Gonzalez (Flickr)

Today’s technology enables us to be more productive, but be aware, there are strings attached: it usually comes with the cost of 24/7 accessibility. Consequently, the additional deadlines and ‘have-to-do’s’ that result from the increased accessibility demands better organisational skills. A person already strugglinge to maintain proficient time management can find this pressuring and very problematic.

Punctuality is generally considered a standard norm in society and people deviating from this norm, time optimists, are misunderstood as being ignorant, selfish and disrespectful (however, of course some time optimists might just fit the previous description).

Sadly, time optimists generally do not realise that their lateness offends people. They also have little sense of time and tend to forget about time. On the other hand, their lists of excuses often prove to be extensive and rather ‘impressive’.


The fine line between fashionably late and simply late – Image Credit: Sean MacEntee (Flickr)

So for all you punctual ones out there, tell your time optimistic friends if their habits are bothering you and discuss your different perceptions of time management. Maybe there is just need for a compromise? Maybe…