When we think of time management, we only think of what we can do about it to improve our skill in this area. What we fail to consider is that if you're a team player (or even if you aren't, nobody is an island in the working world, even a self-employed individual has customers to think about), or even if you're just a regular employee with a boss, a small group of colleagues and a client base, you rely on other people day in, day out, to do things to keep you on track. Other people can waste our time, they can also help us save it. Here are a few examples.


Communication is key with senior members of the team. If you've set aside two hours of your day to do an appraisal with your manager and also spent countless hours preparing notes for it, it will be a blow to you if they then reschedule at short notice. True, the preparation has been done but it has still put a dent into the way you'd managed your time around it. Similarly, if you've submitted something to your boss, you can be attentive rather than aggressive by indicating when you'd like their comments so you can have the paperwork back to continue what you're doing. If they delay, so do you, so open expectations on both sides prevent this kind of thing from happening.


We've all had one of those days where someone has been disruptive - not intentionally, usually, but if two people are laughing and joking about the weekend's football next to your desk then it's going to distract you from your task in hand. Sometimes of course, you'd be tempted to join in while pecking at your Excel Spreadsheet every now and again, and before you know it - it's lunchtime and your self-imposed deadline of finishing it has passed. Self-awareness is required here, and also politeness - telling someone to be quiet isn't particularly friendly, but you could move desks or go into a meeting room to finish what you're doing.

Delegation and sharing is another way colleagues can affect our time. If your workload is too much, you can delegate to them and they'll save you some time - but be prepared to do this for them in turn. Once again, open communication is the key, even if you have to say sorry, you can't work on their project right now because you're swamped.

Third party factors out of your control

A good rule of time management is to retain some flexibility so that if something unexpected happens, or if something mega-urgent lands on your desk, it doesn't throw your entire day or week out of kilter. Fire alarm drills (real or practise), a colleague being off sick, a customer dropping in a large unprecedented order, adverse weather, transport strikes - these can all happen any time and will eat into your time. Balance the probability of them happening with a bit of flexibility. That way, you'll be ready for anything.