Chronic Lateness Part 2

Last month, the article “ We Know Why You’re Always Late” caught my eye. (
Lateness is a problem whether it involves physically not arriving, not providing information, not turning in assignments or not completing projects at the expected time. The cunundrom is encapsulated by Justin Kruger, a social psychologist and professor in the marketing department at NYU’s Stern School of Business. “There are all sorts of disincentives and punishments for being late, and the paradox is we’re late even when those punishments and consequences exist.”

Faulty Executive Function skills are often the culprit. Last month I discussed how the ability to accurately estimate how long a task will take to complete is a complex yet necessary EF skill. GOSTRONG provides a framework to contemplate lateness and the “T” component of Timing and Time Estimation were highlighted last month. This month I want to examine how other elements of GOSTRONG address the rarely intuitive processes.

Making use of feedback is a challenging EF skill and addressed in “N” (Navigate). Time Estimation is important but how behavior is modified based on feedback about the estimation is key. Without making changes to the plan based on the variance in the Time Estimation, the exercise is moot. As adults, we can verbalize our internal dialogue to help students see how we modify plans based on the feedback of accurate or inaccurate Time Estimations.

“I thought it would take us 15 minutes to drive to your game.
But it ended up taking 30 with the rush hour traffic.
Next time we will need to leave earlier.”

“I planned on this project taking 3 days of class time.
But I didn’t anticipate how long it would take for the videos.
Next unit I will plan for 4 days.”

“In a 2004 study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Dr. Kruger and a co-researcher found that when ‘unpacking’ a task—or breaking it down into detailed steps—individuals provided more accurate estimates of how long something would take to get done.” The first “O” of GOSTRONG stands for Organization and is the unpacking discussed in the article. The totality of this concept is frequently not appreciated by those with EF challenges. For those with good EF skills, it seems impossible that the step “Take the folder out of your pack” is not spontaneous. The ability to acknowledge all the steps and the proper sequence must be successfully secured in order to accurately estimate the time the entire task will take to complete.

Executive Functions take the pieces and put them together to make a picture. Without all the pieces, the picture never comes together and can create the chronically late individual. Having a framework to conceptualize EF skills, like GOSTRONG, can help insure that the pieces do come together.