June 8, 2020 08:06
Consultant Agenda: How to effectively manage your Time?
Time Management & Productivity of A Freelance Consultant
It may seem counter-intuitive to be 10x more effective than the average person because nature never offers us this vision: a man is not 10x taller than another, a farmer does not produce 10x more wheat on the same surface...and yet many people accomplish 10x to 100x more each day than the average. So what are their secrets? Are they superhumans?
1. Great Consultants Work Smarter, Not Harder
High Achievers Active As Freelancer Are Results-Oriented
People who achieve a lot know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. It’s the difference between doing a lot of tasks versus doing the tasks that need to be done because they bring concrete results. Reasonable hours are enough: it is not the number of hours that counts but what you do during these hours.
Be fine with not finishing an unending action. Don’t spend your time on unnecessary things and avoid spending more time than needed on the things you need to handle. We’re not looking for perfection but for outcomes.
Successful Consultants Value Time Of Others Like They Value Theirs
Very few consultants arrive at a meeting having prepared the meeting agenda with the list of discussion points, the main part of the customer problem, and solutions. Usually, I observe the same fact after the meeting: what are the steps that will finalize the process and implement the solution over time? How are you going to make the follow-up with your customer ? On which point did you reach an agreement? If you respect people, don’t waste their time.
Exceptional Consultants Take Stock Of The Situation
The evening gives you an excellent opportunity to evaluate your day, and if it can be said that your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day, your evenings set the tone for your following days.
2. Noteworthy Consultants Embrace The Art Of Planification
Learn To Prioritize & Do The Right Thing
If you listen to high achievers, success is quite simple: do the right thing at the right time in the right way. You’re going to answer that success can be much more complex than that and takes into account other parameters, but we must admit successful people have definitely made a point here.
Make a list of all the actions in order to achieve your objectives. You’ll so realize that it is possible and make your dreams a reality for your mind. In order to prioritize the first actions to be done, take the benefits of Pareto Law. Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who noticed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people. Subsequently, he noticed that 80% of his peas were produced by 20% of his pods. It did not take long for him to understand that 20% of our actions get 80% of our results.
If we practice an extreme Pareto Law, only one action will trigger 64% of all results! Screen the lists of actions and pick up the one that will make the difference. According to Laborit Law, since the mind is fresh in the morning, take advantage of it and make the choice for a difficult action. Spend the first 90 minutes of your workday to move your single most game-changing opportunity.
Learn Time Blocking
Illich's law states that after a certain number of working hours, productivity significantly decreases. This law refers to a “negative productivity threshold”, a point from which we struggle to maintain our attention.
It has been proven the most efficient way to work is to dedicate a time block for a specific task. The art of Time Blocking works when your entire day is scheduled, including lunch breaks, sport, and creative time. Time blocking may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s actually a time management strategy to learn where your time is really going each day and to optimize your actions.
I suggest you block 2 to 4 hours on a particular task, but to concretely work 45 minutes straight and then relax for 15 minutes to take a break. During the break, use to get up and move. Staying at your desk for your break decreases concentration for the rest of the day.
Use Your Breaks To Create Your Trigger
Little breaks from the competitive intensity of our life are an integral part of our success. You let your conscious mind move away from present considerations and gain creative vintage points. If only people knew how valuable their breaks could be. Create a 5/6 steps routine (music, meditation, cooking, stretching,..) and go through your routine every day before a nice moment you share with someone you love. Now you have internalized your routine, do it before an important meeting. Over time, slowly but surely, condense your routine in order to trigger your mind whenever you want. You can then do it by visualization, not moving at all at any crucial moment of your life.
Apply the Two-Minute Rule
« If you determine an action that can be done in two minutes, you actually should do it right then because it’ll take longer to organize it and review it than it would be to actually finish it the first time you notice it » David Allen.
In the Casino movie, the cowboy comes to defend his nephew just fired by Ace for his incompetency. When Ace’s secretary informed him about the presence of Patt Webb in his office, Aces asks directly his secretary to ring him in exactly 4 minutes after Pat's entrance! Not 5 or 10 minutes, only 4 minutes to set up all the crisis and definitely put an end to this non-sense conversation
Be Agile, Master The Scrum
Parkinson has stated that like the law of gas expansion « the more time you have for a task, the more it takes ». The issue is that a large task is going to take a lot of time to be performed : either we’re productive or not, there’s always a limit of what can be achieved.
The idea with the Agile technic is to set up short-term actions and to see a marathon as a series of successive sprints. Any task is feasible provided that the tasks are divided into sufficiently small actions.
The first step consists of formalizing the vision of what you want to achieve. This vision describes the main objectives and milestones. The next step is to establish a list of all actions to be conducted. Each action is then estimated in regards to ROI and required time. In the light of the estimates, the list thus completed is scheduled.
This list is called the Backlog. Within the backlog, the tasks with the best ratio ROI/Required Time will enter your Sprint. Sprint should not exceed 1 week. Each week, you’ll review the furtherance of the actions and learn in an iterative way how to upgrade your project.
Focus On Yourself
Think about the most important person in life. Your wife? your kids? your dog? No. Yourself. Like in a plane, you need to take the habit to take the mask for you first and then help your family. If you have nothing built inside you, how do you expect to share and give something away to others?
Want to increase results by 200%? 100% is related to the focus on yourself. The other 100% is discipline. Commit to YOUR success whatever it takes. Learn to do things whatever it costs or whether you like it or not.
3. Illustrious Consultants Know How To Control Their Environment
Control your environment: be very hard to reach a certain time of your day. It takes 21 minutes to refocus after distraction.
Have A Nice Desk And Clean All The Mess
If you work at home, it’s easy to rapidly make your desk a messy place. A clear desk triggers a clear mind. Always make the difference between professional activity and personal stuff. Don’t mix up everything. When you leave your desk, don’t mention work anymore, and when you enter your home office, don’t let personal things to penetrate your sanctuary. I personnaly love spending time with my dog but I never, NEVER, let my dog come in my home office. When we leave for a stroll in the hoods, I don’t answer my phone because I’m enterely dedicated to our moment. Don’t play at work and don’t work at play.
In Casino movie, during the scene with Patt, you should have noticed the layout of Ace office. Only one door brings visitor to Sam’s office and they’re compelled to be filter by Ace’s secretary assistant. The orientation of Ace desk in his office is also fully relevant : he literally turns his back to the casino scene, the entire place of actions but also overcrowded with distraction.
Be Surrounded By People Like You
No one succeeds alone, no one fails alone. Pay attention to the people around you. Seek out those who will support your goals, and show the door to anyone who won’t. Modify your environment so it will fully support your goals.
In Casino's movie, when the manager in charge of money jackpot machines, Don Webb, fails to properly set-up the layout of the area for a maximum return of investment, Sam comes directly to take control of the situation. He turns towards the manager with the following words: « Listen to me very carefully. There are three ways of doing things: the right way, the wrong way, and the way that I do it. You understand? ». Surround yourself with people who share the same vision on time management and productivity. Spend time with the right mentors, the right prospects, the right customers.
Avoid Time Killers
Like mentioned by Carlson law, a continuous action takes less time than an action performed in several times. Each time you’re interrupted by any distraction, it takes 21 minutes to get focus again.
Constantly checking email is the number one time-suck for people across industries. Not only is checking your email a waste of time, but it also breaks your focus throughout the day. Remember, you’re in consulting, not operations. You don’t need to solve every single problem in the first five seconds it’s presented to you. There’s nothing to be proud of returning emails instantly.
Check your email no more than three times a day at scheduled intervals and make sure that the rest of your day is spent doing things that are actually making you money.
There’s a chance you see this one coming. All of us spend an overwhelming time per day on social media and television. Learn to limit your social media usage and you’ll appreciate it even more. When you work on a particular topic, stay focus. Shut down your cell phone, turn off LinkedIn and Facebook notifications. Try to delete social media from your mobile phone: it changes my life.
4. The Best Consultants Constantly Delegate
Even at the very beginning of a one-person consulting activity, some activities can be easily delegated. We’ve previously mentioned accountancy, but it’s the same if you need to create your company logo, your website, your invoices, and so on. I personally use applications like Fiverr, vosfactures.fr, and a web & advertising agency for my different companies.
First, delegate a task only when completing it will not help you achieve your focus goals. Second, delegate an important task only when you are not uniquely qualified to complete it yourself. Third, don’t delegate an important task if you are uniquely qualified to complete it in a trivial amount of time. As far as I’m concerned Sales should never be delegated too easily.
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