A middle school in East Harlem recently implemented a new invention in the area of rules. It can be described in two words—attendance court. In the area of tardiness, truant individuals may be able to add science as another excuse to their ongoing list.
“Telling a late person just to be on time is a little like telling a dieter to simply stop eating so much,” is a widely used quote from the San Francisco time management consultant Diana DeLonzor’s book "Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged." It is so simple that it’s a concept easily overlooked.
In her book DeLonzor attacks the issue of what she calls a "lifelong habit" as more than just a matter of poor time management, or rudeness.
Being late is something that DeLonzor suggests has a sort of appeal. “Repetitive lateness is more often related to personality characteristics such as anxiety or a penchant for thrill-seeking,” she writes. “Some people are drawn to the adrenaline rush of that last minute sprint to the finish line, while others receive an ego boost from over-scheduling and filling each moment with activity.”
In a 2006 San Francisco State University study, 20 percent of the population is chronically late for business meetings and social engagements.
Similarly, in her research with psychologists at SFSU the experts found that people who are always late share some of the same personality characteristics including anxiety, being messy and easily distracted, perfectionist habits, low levels of self-control or a penchant for thrill-seeking.
Another study having to do with lateness was performed at the Cleveland State University. Here researchers timed individuals with a history of being late for 90 seconds and asked them to state how much time they thought had passed. As a result, most of the estimates were grossly underestimated.
“Magic time” is how DeLonzor tags this abnormal impression of time. “People who are late tend to misjudge the time needed to accomplish even those things they’ve done hundreds of times, like getting dressed for work.”
For children of age, school is their work. In a research brief by The Principals’ Partnership on “Strategies for dealing with tardiness,” research in the 1990’s showed approximately 10 percent of students in the U.S. as being tardy each day. For teachers, at least 40 percent agree, that this is a huge disturbance.
For these young adults various modes of punishment can be implemented in order to train these youngsters manners regarding arrival time associated with specific events, particularly formal ones.
Punishment may not be the best way, however, according to psychologist Linda Sapadin, PhD, author of “Master Your Fears,” who believes that tardiness hurts relationships and damages self-esteem, which are punishments in itself. “You're creating a reputation for yourself, and it's not the best reputation to be establishing. People feel they can't trust you or rely on you.”
On WebMD, Julie Morgenstern, author of “Time Management From the Inside Out,” talks about situations in which a persons’ concept of time may be way off.
“If you're always late by a different amount of time—five minutes sometimes, 15, or even 40 minutes other times—it is likely that the cause is technical. That means you are not good at estimating how long things take,” she said.
Besides the incorporation of punishments infringing on late students, many problem-solving agendas for lateness are relatively similar. One that particularly stands out is the invention of the Tardy Calculator.
Separate from a computer system in schools where teachers take role, this device is supposed to go even further by tracking the late students and issuing a notice of punishment—right away. It also makes sure a student doesn’t have overlapping disciplines, which is a common problem in schools.
Principal at Oakmont High School in Roseville, CA travels around the U.S. to various conferences on teacher-related subjects. She says it’s important to incorporate different ways to battle tardiness so as to not let kids get too comfortable with any set way, which is when officials begin to get lenient.
Sirovy says that tardiness is an issue that is time consuming all the way around. “Enforcing the tardy policy by a teacher is based on personality so it’s hard to be consistent. In the end, when students know something is going to happen they will act.”
What all the rules regarding lateness boil down to is the basis of some talks among faculty at every school. “Is it chronic or just something else?” asks Sirovy who receives scientific studies, having to do with the subject, on a regular basis.
The physiological role of sleep on an individual is a study that Sirovy said stood out. “I believe sleep plays a huge part on the physiology of tardiness in students.” In many respects tardiness is nothing to take lightly she said. “We want kids to see the importance of it. Teachers can lose their jobs over it.”