Grace Pacie is the first to admit that being on time just isn’t her forte, and she’s not alone. It’s a very common problem, which leaves millions fuming and frustrated as they waste their time waiting for the people who are always late.
Grace hates being late and was desperate to improve her punctuality. She discovered around 20% of the population struggle with being on time, yet when searching for help, she found a black hole – no new research has been published on the subject in the last decade, and classic Time Management theory fails to even scratch the surface of the problem. “To advise a late person to leave home earlier is like advising an obese person to lose weight,” she explains, “The problem lies at a much deeper level.”
Taking matters into her own hands, Pacie has spent the last ten years investigating the psychology of lateness and has now published her conclusions in a ground-breaking new book.
Her conclusions are controversial – she claims that lack of punctuality is a personality trait we are born with. Contrary to perceived wisdom, she says late people are remorseful about their lateness and would love to change, but don’t know how. As part of her mission to redefine lateness, Pacie has renamed the behaviour Timebending. “Late people relate to this term immediately – they are so relieved to see their unusual approach to time finally recognised and understood.”
Pacie claims that people who are frequently late have a subconscious resistance to closure, and are reliant on a deadline to get them moving. Unfortunately, the buzz of adrenaline which kicks in once a deadline looms can foster an addictive habit which is hard to break. Lockdown has created laboratory conditions for observing people’s punctuality. “There is no excuse for turning up late for a Zoom meeting,” says Pacie. “Anyone who does this needs to acknowledge that their lateness is a compulsive behaviour.” At the same time, lockdown has created a unique opportunity for some Timebenders to effectively go into rehab, and after months of respite from their adrenaline addiction, they are finding they can start to take life at a calmer pace.
In this highly readable book, Pacie offers insights for both the people who are late and those who wait for them. She reveals that the reasons why Timebenders are frequently late include:
- Timebenders have a problem measuring time, and typically underestimate by 20-30%
- Timebenders regularly leave home late due to a mental block about ‘transition time’
- Timebenders have a hidden resistance to closure
- Timebenders only factor their fastest journey times into their calculations
- Timebenders have an instinctive dislike of being early
- Timebenders make subconscious decisions whether to be on time or not*
But there are solutions to the problem. Grace explains that while a chronic lateness habit is very hard to kick, there are nevertheless many behavioural techniques which can assist a Timebender to be on time. “We don’t intend to be late, but we’re battling with compulsive behaviours,” she explains, “So we need to find a way to trick ourselves into arriving on time.” Every Timebender is able to be punctual when it really matters, and through her research she has collected a ‘toolbox’ of tried and tested tips to share with readers.
And it’s not just Timebenders who can can be helped by this book. In the final section “How to Live with a Timebender”, she provides 12 clear guidelines for partners*, with a startling warning that the favourite solution – lying about a deadline – just exacerbates the problem in the longer term.
Grace G Pacie has spent most of her career as a Research Consultant, helping major multinationals understand customer decision-making processes in Europe and the USA. In addition to gaining a BA and Masters Degree she has qualifications in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Emotional Freedom Technique and Hypnotherapy. She has been awarded Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. She is an accredited MBTI Practitioner, and a member of the British Association for Psychological Type.