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The Effectiveness-Lab

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

So we are back to complete the dialogue on timekeeping and if, it’s an education matter.

Pic. Credit: Pixabay

Last week ended on the note below:

“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 the so-called right-way? Is time management important? Is it another imported and foreign phenomenon?”

Let us start with a simple time litmus test, before attempting to answer the questions above. Below is the technical definition of time:

Time is a component quantity of various measurements used to sequence events, to compare the duration of events or the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change of quantities in material reality or in the conscious experience. … Time in physics is unambiguously operationally defined as “what a clock reads.”

So, the question is: Would you have defined time as above, even without teaching you the concept of time in the classroom? Do you understand and appreciate better, other concepts that have been taught to you via the classroom? Is it true that you don’t understand and appreciate time as a critical resource, because it wasn’t taught as a formal classroom subject?

At the Effectiveness lab, we believe that to change the paradigm on time-management, for societies that aren’t great time-keepers, requires that time be taught as a subject in school. Schools, especially elementary and junior secondary, should consider employing time-management specialist teachers. The latter is what it will take to change a deeply ingrained culture the disdains the value of time

We know that there is bound to be pushback for all sorts of reasons: the time-management faculty wouldn’t have enough to teach and, therefore, would be underemployed; other countries and cultures manage time so well without it being formally taught in school; and the obvious one, we are African and should accept that time-management is a foreign concept that has not and won’t in the future have significant influence on our productivity as a people – really?

We opine that whether time is a foreign import or not, it shouldn’t be disdained amongst the like of my Nakabugu kindred. And If there is one foreign culture we should accept, especially with the world becoming a global village, it’s time and its optimisation.

Time determines many things and ultimately, value addition to you as an individual, team and society in general – below are a few simple, but critical examples of the value of managing our time right:

1. Those of you in business need to manage time to benefit from 1st responder status on the market. The delivery of products and services is built on a foundation of the right skills, but even more important, effective management of time
2. For students – from junior school to colleges/universities, managing time right enables you to submit assignments on time, complete exam questions and overall have a peaceful and hustle free life
3. For employers, imagine how much you lose in productivity and ultimately money, when you employ people that can’t manage time well.
4. Ever gone to meeting and a few other colleagues are late and you don’t have quorum to start the meeting on time – consider the domino effect on your other planned tasks. Likely, you won’t accomplish what you planned to do for the day – or will work late to compensate for the lost time. And you all know where this all ends – lost value, stress and reduced morale and productivity, etc

We can go on and on – but with the above few and real-life examples, we hope that you are convinced, that whether you are from Nakabugu village or not, it’s good to consider time a critical resource and manage it optimally

So, why do other societies manage time optimally, even without having to teach time formally in a classroom setting? Well, these societies consider time a critical resource and manage it optimally as such. The latter arises from attaining a state where time-ethics and management are institutionalised in their social fabric. Time management is taught to the young from the word goat home, and they see it practised in behaviour, learning by observation.

While societies that don’t consider time a critical resource may at some point change, and be it as it may, manage time right, they are advised, as an interim measure, to teach time formally – as a classroom subject.

And as and when the societies that aren’t good time managers attain a critical mass of good time managers, they will be in a position to leverage their newly acquired status to create a movement and ultimately, society in general, that respects and keeps time. This is not a quick fix, but a generational matter

If we continue not to teach time management in the classroom, shall we solve the challenge of poor timekeeping? And if we continue to depend on culture and behaviour to imbue the right time-ethics, are we making the assumption that those imbuing such ethics, attained the right time-education? Of-course the latter have borrowed their time-management knowledge from their forefathers and they will continue to pass on what they know, have seen and lived with – i.e. the lack of respect for time.

Should we consider new approaches to teaching time-management?


2 responses to “Is chronic poor timekeeping amongst certain people an education matter? Series 2 of 2”

  1. Melch Natukunda Avatar
    Melch Natukunda

    True time management is critical especially if we are to take big strides in development. Kindly, what is your view on bureaucracy mostly in government systems where more time is spent in meetings than action?


    1. Break the culture and long term, teach the young generation the true value of time ….


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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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