As a consultant you constantly run a high risk of burnout. Regardless of the billing model-hourly rate, fixed fee, or retainer-time is your core currency and the clock constantly runs against you. Technical aspects requiring energy including collecting requirements, researching available technologies, developing proof of concepts, fixing technical problems, and implementation. Executing on soft skills requires even more energy-influencing without authority, resolving conflicts, understanding folksonomy for each new gig, defending your approach and adapting to others’, reporting to high ranking stakeholders, and administrative. Energy mismanagement is a surefire path to burnout. At best burnout will mitigate your impact; at worst it can lead to disengagement and even contract termination. To ensure consistent, sustainable delivery of high impact results you need a plan for avoiding burnout and preserving your energy. Here is that plan-let your passion drive; batch-&-reuse at scale, prioritize impactful over mundane work; and effective time management.
Let Your Passion Drive
Let your passion drive you. It is not about a random plan and doing whatever you like; instead determine what you most like to do and what you’re good at, then making sure you maximize the time spent on those things. For example, my passion is about solving problems quickly-figuring out how stuff works and how it breaks, then clarifying and providing prescriptive guidance to my customers in simple manner. I take notes of the step-by-step procedures which I turn into reports, guides, and how-to’s. It is rewarding to see my guidance implemented by customers in real world scenarios.
What’s your passion? Consulting Skills Pdf Let it drive you.
Found your passion? Good, now let’s take care of the other side of the story-the mundane work that kills your artistic juices and drains your energy. It is writing documents, searching and finding that same piece of information, responding to emails with the same asks or questions, reporting hours to the billing system, administrative, and other painful tasks. You cannot completely avoid it but you can manage the time spent on such work and minimize your exposure to it. For example, you can reduce your mundane work to five items such as write report X, write report Y, answer emails, submit expense, report hours. Techniques such as batching, scheduling, & time boxing allow you to do such tasks over, say, three hours or even 30 minutes.
To achieve this, batch your work and leverage your boilerplate prepared for these circumstances. For example, minimize time and effort by scheduling all your mundane work for the end of day when your creativity is likely to be low-the perfect time for mindless mechanical work such as reporting. Failure to batch results in context switching & longer effort for each mundane task. Leverage templates for reports. When responding to email, pull responses from your personal knowledge base (KB) (which you proactively update each day). Batch-&-reuse to reduce energy drain and effort.
Prioritization Atd Consulting Workshop
Batch-&-reuse is a tactical practice. Step back and make a strategic move toward defending your energy-deprioritize all work that does not add value to the gig or drains you. Let it fall off your plate. To defend such an approach with key stakeholders simply contrast the low value work with the high priority work. Defend the approach to yourself by reminding yourself what you are passionate about. If you are repeatedly pressed to prioritize the mundane work over the important-you are in the wrong gig. Wrap it up, learn the lessons, and move on.
Meetings require special attention. The only meetings that really require your attendance are kick off, wrap up, and those requiring brainstorming or key decision making. Most meetings during the gig are merely status reports or recurring events someone decided must be on the calendar. Do not attend those meetings. Send your contribution via email with crisp and extremely brief bulleted status report, then decline it in your calendar. Then there are on-demand meeting requests of “let’s meet and talk.” Promptly decline those asking for an agenda. Usually it ends there. If an agenda is provided-a rare case-you can usually simply send an email addressing each agenda item. The default response to a meeting other key ones should be “decline”.
Instead of reacting to assaults on your time-the consultant’s main currency-adapt a defensive approach and block your time proactively a week ahead in your calendar. Doing so ensures you budget your time and provides ample chunks of time to do the high-priority, value-add work about which you are passionate. It also sets up a good defense against ad-hoc and on-demand meetings. If you do so, expect to receive emails similar to this:
“Hey I was trying to schedule a meeting with you but you are blocked all week long. When can we meet to discuss blah?”
Respond with, “Try scheduling next week. Afternoons work best for me.” You will see often by that time that the meeting’s agenda has become irrelevant and the organizer removes it from the calendar altogether. If not, ping the organizer a day before and ask a simple question, “Is it still on?” Chances are it is not and the meeting will be called off.
Let your passion drive you during your gigs.
Batch-&-reuse to minimize time and effort devoted to energy-draining work.
Deprioritize draining work in the first place.
Defend your time by proactively blocking off your time and catalyzing your productive efforts.