There seems to be no hurry in Africa – hakuna matata.

As Africans, more so as Zimbabweans, we have taken the phrase ‘there is no hurry in Africa’ to heart. Time does not seem to matter to us anymore. Especially other people’s time.

Benjamin Franklin said ‘time is money’ but we obviously don’t seem to agree with him because we don’t quantify the hours lost by sitting and waiting for a meeting to start.

When did we lose the ability and desire to keep time? What happened to us? Has the moral fibre of our society degenerated to such an extent? When President Mnangagwa first came into office he talked about efficiency and being on time, seems it’s a case of do as I say not as I do because I have been to or heard of countless functions where he has arrived more than two hours late. Is Zimbabwe really open for business?

Time management is an important aspect of one’s professional and personal life because it helps you plan and consciously take control of the number of hours you spend on specific activities in order to measure and increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity. The immense amount of time we waste during productive hours has a domino effect on the rest of the day.

Increasingly I am loathe to sit and wait for an appointment or a meeting to start. Thank goodness for smartphones! Waiting around for people has made me change the way I behave. Every time I am invited to a meeting, my inner self takes on a debate mode and the internal dispute begins. Should I go at the stipulated time or should I go later and use my time effectively elsewhere? Will the meeting start on time? How late will it start? How long should I wait? Really, thank goodness for smartphones, the waiting time can be used to catch up on emails, texts or Twitter but I could do this sitting at home or the office not in some board room or hotel conference room.

I have been called a goody two shoes as I make it a point to be punctual because I don’t want my time wasted and I don’t want to waste someone else’s time. More often than not the meetings start late, waiting for a quorum or waiting for dignitaries/key note speakers/guests of honour to arrive.

There are obviously power dynamics at play, as it seems the more important the person perceives themselves to be, the less they care about time – other people’s time especially. They seem to feel we should be so grateful to have them there even if they arrive 2 hours after the appointed time. This used to be a given for government officials but other sectors have followed suit.

The worst however is when the organisers of the meeting are not there to kick off the meeting and no one knows what to do. This is happening too often and needs to be called out. If you call for a meeting and don’t have the decency to be there at the appointed time, why should I wait and why would I be motivated to make an effort the next time?

I have made a decision for my own sanity that I will wait for up to 30 minutes of the said time, then I will leave, regardless of who I am waiting for, especially if there is no explanation to the cause of the delay. Half an hour is more than generous.

By making those who were punctual, wait, we are actively punishing them for being on time. This to me is a level of disrespect that should be done away with. If a meeting is important to you, you should make the time. Yes there are unavoidable delays. Let’s remember we all have cellphones and can make a call from anywhere explaining the delays. Unfortunately, more often than not, explanations or apologies are not extended. This is a culture that has permeated every aspect of our lives and sadly no one seems to care.

If at the end of a working week, I were to add up the total hours I spent waiting around for meetings to begin, and bill the organisations that would have made me wait, in accordance with my daily rate, I would make a tidy sum.

Our attitude towards time management needs to change!

Source: Kuda Chitsike