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One of the most difficult things to get right is managing interruptions from colleagues. Either you become too available to each other, in which case you lose control of your time, or you are too distant and fail to take advantage of each other’s abilities.


Working Together

Traditional corporate hierarchies are gradually being flattened, and more tasks are now being assigned to teams designed and brought together for one-off projects. This means that you need to be able to work side- by- side with a variety of individuals and find ways of agreeing with them about work priorities and time management.



Prioritizing Work Talk through the principles of dividing work into A-, B-, and C- tasks and allocating a set number of each to do every day.

Use examples from your colleagues’ workload.

Using Diaries and Planners Ask your colleagues to keep a time log, then review and analyze it with them to discover their various working patterns.

Help your colleagues to set up an appropriate planning system.

Filtering Information Encourage your colleagues to assess every item of information they receive to decide what action is required.

Provide hints on faster reading based on your own experience.

Delegating and following up Discuss specific, related examples from the past to determine the best course of action in this instance.

Be prepared to review any new systems that are set up.


Focusing on Objectives

A good time-saving habit for you and your colleagues to get into is always to ask yourselves what you expect when you meet to discuss an issue. There is a useful mnemonic – AID – that helps in classifying the options available to you.

Is it Advise you need from each other; is it Information; or is it Decision?

At the beginning of each discussion, indicate exactly what you are looking for from each other and you will all be more aware of the demands that the exchange will make on your time. You can also use the AID technique to help you decide how to respond to colleagues seeking your attention.


Encouraging Option

The unique thing about most colleagues is that they can give you dispassionate, on-the-job feedback, which you often cannot get from further up or down the organizational hierarchy. Unlike colleagues, seniors and subordinates may think too much in terms of job assessments.


Encourage your colleagues to give you their opinions on your performance. They may raise some helpful points that will save you time in the future. For example, they may let you know that your meetings last too long or are disorganized, or that you appear to be inaccessible to others when they need you. Listen to their advice, and adopt any useful time-saving techniques.


Using AID options

ADVICE: If you are going to give advice to a colleague, make sure that you do it when you have plenty of time available. It is best to give advice only when you are not in a hurry.


INFORMATION: Dispensing information is a one-way process – in most cases, it does not require any feedback. Set aside a short amount of time in your day for giving out information.


DECISION: Reaching a decision may well take some considerable time. It is important that you do not allow yourself to be hurried into an over-hasty decision by an anxious colleague.



Hold meetings in colleagues’ offices, so you can leave when you need to.

Try not to allow colleagues to distract you unimportant issues.

Set aside special times when your office is open to all.

Visit colleagues only when you have more than one issue to discuss.

Bernard Taiwo

I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.

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