How to become a more productive consultant
Do you sometimes feel that there’s not enough time in the day for business admin? Consultants can easily fall into the trap of letting the daily hustle impact business productivity.
As a consultant, you often work solo. This means you probably don’t have the same support available to help you get everything done each week that other types of business owners may have.
And if that is the case, you’ll find it necessary to improve productivity in order to counteract the general time pressures.
The more you fit into your days, the more clients you’ll service and the higher income you’ll generate.
Here are some productivity tips to follow today to help you maximise your time.
Stop doing busywork
It’s something that happens to most people, no matter the industry: hours get wasted each week on “busywork”.
This term refers to tasks we do that aren’t important (at least, not really, when it comes to pleasing customers and building a business), and aren’t urgent, either.
These are items that may not even be on our to-do list, or if they are, are well down the list.
But, it’s common to spend too long on unnecessary or unimportant things because it’s a means of procrastination.
To claw back more time to spend on vital work, start analysing where your time goes each week.
Find areas where you’re doing things that aren’t the best use of your skills, experience, or energy.
Significant busywork stems from paperwork, technology, and meetings, so focus on these things first.
Keep meetings in check
Since meetings are one of the biggest timewasters for consultants, look for ways to keep these in check.
For example, ask yourself if you really do need to be involved in every meeting that’s currently in your schedule.
Perhaps you can sort out some details through a five-minute phone call or a few short emails, instead.
Also, when you do attend meetings, set an agenda. Share this with everyone in advance or at the start of the sit down.
Doing this helps to keep all parties to task, and stops time-wasting on general chit chat and other unnecessary items.
It’s wise to schedule another appointment straight after you want your meeting to end, too.
This way, you’ll keep an eye on the time and have a good reason to end things after the allocated period.
Focus on tasks to help you grow your business
Another way to become more productive is to put more focus on the specific tasks that will help you to grow your business.
For example, schedule in big chunks of time to organise marketing campaigns, follow up on leads, complete major projects, and the like.
Set up specific times for communication
Many of the world’s most productive people became that way because they’re disciplined in the area of communication.
That is, they don’t constantly interrupt their workflow and concentration to check emails, answer text messages, or take calls.
Instead, they set themselves specific times each day (often first thing in the morning and then again around mid-afternoon) to “chunk” these activities into one block.
This may take a little getting used to, but once you’re in the habit, you’ll find it saves you significant time each day.
It will allow you to get into flow, and at the same time shouldn’t cause any significant issues with clients or other contacts.
Learn to say ‘no’
When you’re self-employed and know you have to keep hustling to make ends meet, it’s normal to say yes to most clients and opportunities that cross your path.
However, once you’ve built up your brand name and are more established, you’ll need to start being more choosy.
Learn to say no to some opportunities, so you don’t burnout and can dedicate more focused time to the essential parts of your work.
Keep in mind the 80/20 rule that says 80 percent of your income will come from just 20 percent of your clients or projects.
You need to say no to some things so you can concentrate on what truly brings in income and generates more leads, and will help you to grow your business in turn.
Cut back your social media use
While using social media to build your profile as a consultant is helpful, you don’t want to spend more time than needed on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like, either.
Social media can assist you to network and get your name out there, but at the end of the day, it’s more important to achieve great results for clients, so they refer you to others.
To increase productivity, be careful how much time you devote to social media.
Limit yourself to just a couple of sessions per day maximum, for half an hour (or preferably less) each time.
This is enough to do what you need to when it comes to marketing, while at the same time ensuring you don’t lose track of time “down the rabbit hole”.