Business Hours

http://www.subliminal-messaging.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/time-management-clock.jpgWithout giving too much away, I want to take you behind the curtain on my approach to time management at work.  I fancy that this will resonate with others in the professional services world, and I welcome hearing from others, so consider this a conversation starter on a vital but often under-discussed topic.

As a consultant, of course, your primary responsibility is to your clients.  Depending on how big your firm is, where you are on the depth chart, and what kind of work you do, that might be 100 percent of your time.  As for me, I have three other things competing for my time, all of which relate to my client work and all of which I have to figure out how to juggle alongside my client work:

(1) Working on the business.  This is a pet phrase of my former boss, Della Clark, who helps entrepreneurs grow their companies at The Enterprise Center.  Inside this category go all the things that go into keeping a company going, from internal processes to big-picture strategy, from hiring and evaluating talent to making decisions about what technology or data sets to buy.

(2) Professional development.  You only get hired if you know stuff.  So that means you have to stay abreast of current events, policy news, and analytical tools.  Which means I have a lot of reading to do, of publications and reports and reference books.

(3) Networking.  You only get hired if you know people.  So that means you have to be out there, making new contacts and managing relationships with existing contacts.  So I need to make time to attend events, grab lunch with colleagues, and reach out via email and social media.

I think my ideal time split is 70/10/10/10: 70 percent of my time on client work, and 10 percent each on the three other things above.  Of course, there are weeks when client work overwhelms, and I have to decide whether I diminish my time in these other three areas, or alternatively work more hours and cut into my personal time. 

I'll leave unsaid what my split is now, and how I manage the ebbs and flows of various time commitments.  Suffice to say, I wish I had more hours in the day, and struggle to find peace in the finite number of things I can get to each week.  I welcome any advice and sharing on this most impactful topic.

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