"Concrete begins to cure after just a few hours (slower in cold weather and faster in summer), after which it should not be disturbed. In fact, after reaching its initial curing stage, concrete will not chemically bond to newly poured concrete adjacent to it. After about eight hours, concrete reaches its "final set stage".
Because concrete is a quick-drying material, the actual pouring of concrete is a chaotic, frenetic and sloppy process no matter the foundation type in question. This is one thing all concrete contractors can agree on. It lasts perhaps an hour, and includes tamping and vibrating the wet concrete to fill an voids and even its content throughout the forms. Finishing chores, such as smoothing the slab, cutting control joints and setting anchor bolts, occurs for a few hours at most after the pour."
Contractor lingo used in this article:
tamping and vibrating - the manual and/or mechanical process of removing air pockets from poured concrete.
control joints - in the concrete slab, strategically placed grooves to which cracks in the surface will gravitate, maintaining structural integrity and appearance. Also called a contraction joint.