Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab

Is chronic poor timekeeping amongst certain people an education matter? Series 1 of 2

For the next two blogs, the Effectiveness lab is discussing the concept of time, its management and education. Is time-management taught formally in schools? Should it be or not? Is the approach to teaching time-management, right?

Pic. Credit: Pixabay

Not long ago, we managed a mission-critical task that involved multiple teams and individuals. We had multiple, synchronised and fixed deadlines. Time was of the essence, and we didn’t have much room for error. It was one of those tasks from hell

The above is the kind of situation that brings different human souls together – moreover, with a so-called common objective. In this kind of situation, we see firsthand the habits, good and bad, of individuals working together, or being ‘forced’ to work together

When this happens, you get to see the organised and disorganised, patient and impatient, time sticklers and those that don’t value time, annoyers and pleasers and broad-brush traces of culture and the manner/s in which things get done amongst a particular people. For example, we may be the slow type at Nakabugu village

So – as the team worked to get the so-called mission-critical task accomplished, a colleague, and a pretty senior one at that said this: “These people aren’t time conscious at all.” The colleague was referring to the unique manner, time is managed in the country we were visiting.

The frustration and, therefore, above comment was in response to several meetings that were set up for the day, and to which certain colleagues came late. And not a few minutes late, but very late

Upon reflection – we ask ourselves, and severally, why certain people don’t keep time, despite several reminders and in some instances reprimand

Why do other people struggle to manage time, and can we change them?

Is the inability to manage time: inborn, a matter of habit and exposure to specific values, especially in our early years when our brains get wired a certain way or is it an IQ matter?

Can we change poor timekeepers into time sticklers and should we even bother? After all, terrible time-keepers are frequently very successful in life while quintessential time-keepers aren’t

Are time-keeping and the rewards thereof, similar to religious belief? At Nakabugu village where our parents built the village church – the majority of the people going to St. Stephen’s Church Nakabugu, are poor. On the other hand, the not always prayerful wealthy class, continue to thrive. Some have wondered, rightly or not, why they even worship

Maybe, just like strict follower-ship of the church does not graduate all my Nakabugu kindreds into the well-to-do class, not keeping time may be okay. After all, poor time managers end up doing better than the time sticklers

So – is the concept of time management and its importance a hoax? Indeed, timekeeping isn’t always taught formally at school but ingrained in humans mostly via behaviour emphasis. Without the right focus on time-ethics at home and school, why should it be a vital factor in our daily life?

We must confess that in Uganda schools of the 1980s and ’90s, the class timetable didn’t have a subject called ‘time-keeping’. Keeping time was learnt at the school assembly and as we went about other schools routines

Time-management was enforced, and therefore, acquired via school routines like policing by faculty and school matrons – and if unlucky, school security guards. We followed extremely boxed routines like the school and dormitory timetables, etc

Students were programmed to go about their daily routine using a school bell (usually an old car rim and in the more elite schools an electric siren). The latter rang hourly or at other fixed time intervals to tell you what to do next. It was a kin to setting an alarm on the modern smartphone. It was all pavlov stuff

So, are you surprised that the people, especially from the above school generation can’t keep time, without a bell, siren or the ’soft’ human reminder i.e. sending those who are on time for the meeting to go find the late colleagues?

Do we even understand what time is and why it should be managed in the so-called right-way? Is time management important? Is it another imported and foreign phenomenon?

See you next week


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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