How to Keep Time

The concept of “African time” or in our case “Zambian time” sometimes stylised as ZMT, is a familiar one, carrying the connotation of a more relaxed approach to punctuality. While perceived cultural norms can influence our relationship with time, mastering time management is a valuable skill for anyone, regardless of where in the world they are located. Effective time management reduces stress, improves decision-making, boosts productivity, and ultimately increases profits, both personally and professionally. In this article, we explore how to keep time.

Time- The Currency of Success

In business, time isn’t just a concept; it’s a precious currency. Every minute spent is gone forever, highlighting its immense value. But beyond its inherent worth, punctuality is a powerful stress reliever.  Imagine the difference between rushing into meetings and calmly arriving on time. A well-organised schedule promotes a clear headspace, leading to better decisions. When you’re not pressed for time, you can carefully consider options and avoid impulsive choices with lasting consequences.

Effective time management acts like a productivity superpower. Focused, single-tasking individuals navigate their professional world with purpose and efficiency. Multitasking is a pitfall to avoid.  In the business world, punctuality is a cornerstone of success. Meeting deadlines, honouring commitments, and building a reputation for reliability – these are the threads woven into a successful business. This reliability is the bedrock of profitable ventures, highlighting the crucial role time management plays in a thriving business. Here are seven ways exploring how to keep time: 

1.  Goal Setting and Focus

The journey to mastering time management begins with a clear destination in mind. Setting SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound – acts as your map and compass. Whether it’s a daily to-do list or a long-term project you’re tackling, having a well-defined roadmap keeps you focused and prevents you from getting lost in the whirlwind of tasks. In addition, embracing single-tasking as opposed to multitasking is a great way to keep time.Multitasking often leads to sloppy work and wasted time. Focus on completing one task at a time until finished.

2.  Organization is Key

Cultivating a sense of calm amidst the daily grind starts with creating a clear and organised space. This extends beyond your physical workspace – a cluttered desk isn’t the only culprit.  Tame your to-do list, streamline your schedule, and even plan your commute to eliminate unnecessary friction from your day. Remember, though, that pushing yourself to the limit is counterproductive.  Schedule regular breaks for meals, exercise, and even socialising. A well-rested and rejuvenated mind is a time management champion!

3.  Know Yourself
Not everyone thrives at the same time of day. Some are early birds, their minds sharpest in the crisp morning hours. Others are night owls, their creativity blossoming under the cloak of darkness.  Uncover your peak productivity hours.  Schedule demanding tasks for these times when your natural energy is at its highest. This simple act of self-awareness can unlock a surge in efficiency and make the most of your most potent mental state.

4.  Delegate Smartly
You don’t have to be a one-person show. Delegate!  Don’t be afraid to entrust tasks you dislike or that someone else on your team can handle more efficiently.  Think of it as building a bridge – you delegate tasks across the team, freeing yourself to focus on your strengths and maximising everyone’s potential.  This collaborative approach not only empowers others but also lightens your load, allowing you to become a time management maestro.

5.  Financial Planning
Financial stress can be a relentless time thief, constantly nagging at the back of your mind. Take control!  Create a budget and a clear roadmap for your finances. Track your spending – awareness is the first step to change.  By effectively managing your money, you not only alleviate financial stress but also free up valuable mental space, allowing you to focus on what truly matters. This newfound peace of mind becomes a powerful tool in your time management arsenal.

6.  Minimise Distractions
The constant ping of notifications, the lure of social media, and the temptation of a quick TV break – these are the sirens of inefficiency, luring us away from our goals.  Mastering time management requires cultivating laser focus. Learn to silence the noise.  Put your phone away, politely excuse yourself from unproductive conversations, and resist the urge to multitask.  By creating a distraction-free zone, you’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish in a shorter amount of time.

7.  Schedule Your Downtime

Corporate couple in their downtime, relaxing after a long day at work because they know how to keep time.

Think of yourself as a high-performance machine. Even the most efficient engine needs a pit stop to refuel and recharge. The same goes for you!  Don’t fall into the trap of burning the candle at both ends. Schedule time for relaxation and activities you enjoy. Whether it’s reading a book, hitting the gym, or spending time with loved ones, prioritise these moments of rejuvenation.  A well-rested and recharged mind is a sharp and focused mind, ready to tackle any challenge with renewed vigour. This work-life balance is essential for long-term success and a cornerstone of effective time management.

The concept of “Zambian time” may linger, but it doesn’t have to define us. Time management is a universal skill, a key that unlocks a treasure chest of benefits. By embracing these strategies, we can transform our relationship with time. We can become architects of our days, crafting schedules that maximise efficiency and minimise stress. We can delegate tasks, conquer distractions, and prioritise our well-being. Ultimately, mastering time management empowers us to achieve our goals, both big and small. So, let’s rewrite the narrative, not by erasing our cultural identity, but by demonstrating how Zambians and Africans can become time management mavericks, conquering their days and achieving success on their own terms.

Alexander Zulu


  1. Great read and very timely. Thank you for the reminder on the basics of time management. #ourveryownZedian

  2. Thank you for sharing this important information/ remind though I have a different opinion on smart delegation.

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