Well here we are, my last consultancy blog! I’d like to thank you first for taking the time to read my articles and I do hope they have helped you in one way or another. Recently we have looked at 10 disastrous strategies and 10 habits of top consultants. Today I want to give me one more set of top 10 tips, this time for time management.
One of the challenges with being your own boss is that there is no one else to tell you what to do and by when. It is therefore worthwhile considering how you manage your time. This is my Achilles heel by the way! I’ve had to work very hard at this and will occasionally “backslide”, so I need to be vigilant. This is where having a good mentor and a good PA come in, as they will both “nag” you in different ways if this is an issue (in m).
In this article then we will consider some top tips on time management. I try to practise these, and sometimes I succeed!
- Enjoy the freedom of running your own life. Obviously, you have to be mindful of client expectations, but if it suits you and the family to take time off during the week and work part of the weekend, you can do it.
- Use lists to create forward momentum – for the month, week, day – and tick things off as you do them.
- Don’t waste time on issues that could be easily delegated or that you are not suited to doing.
- Don’t procrastinate over non-essential decisions.
- Do what feels right at the time – whilst you can’t put things off for ever, there may be some that you need to be in the mood for if you are going to be at your most effective.
- Maintain a sanctum sanctorum – part of your home which is either clearly earmarked as your office or you treat as your office, so you (and everyone else) knows you are in work mode.
- Do not be afraid to spend money to maximise efficiency, either via people or systems or a combination of both.
- Be selfish with your time. I will give anyone an hour of my time for free, but after that the meter is running. It will discourage the timewasters – and they are out there!
- Plan your long-term time investment. If you know you have a major piece of work to deliver in 3 month’s time, don’t leave the planning and preparation to week four of month three!
- Allow for the unexpected – try to keep some slack time that you can use for urgent meetings, unanticipated client requests, and the vagaries of the transport system.
A good place to start is what one of my client’s christened a “dead-time audit”. It’s very simple; set up an excel spreadsheet for 7 days, and break it in to 15 minutes components. Colour your various activities (billable work, marketing, networking, admin, breaks etc.) and complete the spreadsheet. It will give you a very simple graphic of how you are spending your time, and how you can prioritize improvements. It will also show you where you start to “burn-out”, and I guarantee you at least one surprise!