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Consulting Essentials - Managing Time

Posted by guest on January 12, 2016

I’m sure you’ll agree that as an Independent Consultant you are often in a pressure cooker environment when on client site and feel incredibly stretched if not stressed. There are seemingly endless meetings, updates, reports, workshops, milestones and plans to coordinate and all of these are of course urgent!
 
This “Consulting Essential” is Managing Time - 5 tips that you can easily put into practice to make the best use of your time and your clients time, relieving some of this tension during the working day.
 
1. Restrict e-mail time. Whilst e-mail has transformed the way we communicate, people can become obsessed with it in business, to the exclusion of everything else. Try to limit the time that you and your team are on email – maybe establish 2 or 3 time windows per day. You will find that this focuses the mind wonderfully on just managing the essentials and frees up time to concentrate on project deliverables.
 
2. Be ruthless with meetings. Another business obsession is meetings – people seem to be happy to spend all day in meetings and so appear busy. I wonder how much actually gets achieved.  My first consulting essential gave you a 10 point strategy to start improving meeting management. Here are a three more simple tips….

  • Only attend meetings with objectives and agendas issued in advance;
  • Ensure all team meetings start on time and finish on time;
  • Review meeting effectiveness with your team on a regular basis and implement improvements

3. Use the 80/20 Principle. You’re probably aware of the 80/20 principle that tells us that 80% of what you achieve will come from 20% of your time spent. Well here's an exercise to identify the 80% of your time that's less productive. Over the course of a few days, record how you spend your time on client site. Then compare this with your target project deliverables. What activities are actually contributing towards these? For those that aren't either stop doing them or outsource them and create more time for value adding tasks. Get your team to do the same.
 
4. Outsource your PowerPoints. Well here’s one suggestion of something to outsource – PowerPoint production. The chances are you are doing this yourself or using administrative support from your client. I suspect it’ll be either taking far too much of your time or the output is not that professional looking….or both! Source some professional external support to take this off your hands.
 
5. Practice 3-4-5. This is a concept I used as an employed consultant and which I still use today. This is 3 nights away from home, 4 days on client site and 5 days’ worth of value. I’m not suggesting that 3 nights away is necessary or relevant for you but set expectations with your client that you will only be on site for 4 days while working on their business for 5. Use that day a week off site to manage those activities that do not need client face time
 
See how much of your time and your team’s time you can free up to increase productivity and accelerate delivery.

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