As a consulting firm leader, you’re constantly wrestling with the clock. You somehow have to balance project work with finding clients and annoying administrivia. Oh, and your family would like a minute here or there with you.
Look, if finding extra time were as easy chunking your day into time blocks, or starting with the “big rocks” you’d already be finishing up your project load by noon and strolling out of the office at [5:00] every day with a clear desk and a clear mind. (Or, at least a clear gin and tonic.)
Time blocking and starting with the big rocks are good practices, of course. Go ahead and work on those.
But, I’m guessing you’ve heard the rocks-in-glass metaphor a thousand times, and you’re still busier than a band of Oompa Loompas on taffy-pulling day.
Because most of your time issues aren’t time issues.
Most time issues are actually problems with priorities, energy, desire, discipline or a sufficiency-approach to your work.
Elsewhere I’ve written about the importance of delegation, systemization, and automation. (Here, here, and here, for instance.)
Today, let’s talk about three tips that will help you with tasks that you won’t or can’t offload.
3 Tips to Gain 2 Extra Hours a Day
Tip #1: Be Honest with Yourself
Consider the tasks that stick stubbornly to your to-do list. They stare accusingly at you, silently reminding you that you’ve let them linger, uncompleted and unfulfilled for yet another day.
Lack of time isn’t the problem.
In many cases you’re avoiding sticky tasks because they’re daunting or unpleasant.
Once you admit the true, root cause of your procrastination, you can dive right in and fix the problem. (After all, you are a consultant.)
Tip #2: Manage Your Energy
You and your consulting firm’s staff all run out of energy long before you run out of time.
Since you’re truly productive for only brief bursts of time on a typical day, build your work schedule around your natural energy surges.
Plan your work—especially the most challenging tasks—to coincide with your energy peaks and schedule the easy, brainless tasks for the lulls.
The flip side of the energy equation is knowing what charges your batteries and accelerates momentum for you.
Whether it’s a walk in the woods or a power nap, consciously add octane to your daily fuel and you’ll find yourself more productive (and happier too).
Tip #3: Necessity Consulting, Not Sufficiency Consulting
Most consultants are oriented around sufficiency: “What can I do that will be sufficient to make my client happy?”
Sufficiency manifests itself as extra work on a project, driven by the hope that delivering more will create a happier consulting client.
It begets self-imposed scope creep.
The problem is, there’s no end to how much you can “over-deliver.”
Instead, ask yourself:
“What is absolutely necessary to meet my consulting client’s expectations?”
Challenge your answers to that question by asking, “Is it possible my client could be delighted if I don’t deliver this?”*
Then, do the consulting work required to meet the necessities. No more, even though you’re aching to.
You’ll crank through your consulting projects in a fraction of the time.
You’ll also have happier consulting clients.
Huh? What’s that? Won’t cutting back on your over-the-top delivery reduce client delight?
Your consulting firm’s clients value simplicity and focus. Most prefer an elegantly simple solution delivered in four weeks, not an overcomplicated, overstuffed approach that requires four months.
(Don’t fool yourself by thinking your clients love you because you over-deliver. By definition, over-delivery means you’ve done more than required to please your clients. Other consulting firms’ clients love them too, and those firms aren’t over-delivering.)
Honesty, Energy, Necessity. Those three tips should yield you a couple of hours.
Which one resonates most with you?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.
In addition to creating more time, set a mission to enjoy the time you create. I rarely drink alchol in any form; however, as I travel Porto and the Douro valley this week I must admit my encounters with a fine port paired with local, handcrafted chocolate have been sublime.