Time Management with a Consultant | Kelly Raines
Lead Consultant, Kelly Raines, recently ran a Pracedo University session around managing your time successfully as a consultant. She now shares her top tips for anyone wanting to be more efficient with their time.
Q: Why is time management important as a consultant?
A: Time management is especially important as a consultant because we work in a billable role, so must be efficient with our time so that our projects run smoothly and within budget.
We frequently work on multiple projects at once, which is great because it gives us as consultants exposure to products or use cases that you might not have had otherwise. This allows you to learn more on the job in the same number of hours because you have more exposure. The downside is if you fall behind on one project it can have a serious knock-on effect on the others. Managing your time effectively helps keep all your projects on track and allows you to learn new things to aid your personal development.
‘Time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity.’
Having good time management keeps customer satisfaction high. Not only will it avoid any delays to the project, but it might even mean you’re efficient enough to finish the project early and go live sooner! Which of course our customers love!
Overall, managing your workload and your time will help keep your stress levels down and help with your wellbeing. I go into a bit more detail later on about look after yourself and prevent burnout.
Q: How do you practice time management?
A: When I started working in consultancy I used to receive an email and wanted to deal with it straight away, but before I knew it I’d forgotten about an important task that I was supposed to do that day because I’d be busy responding to non-urgent email requests.
Understanding that not every email needs an instant response is an important skill. You should always be thinking about what is the priority right now, rather than instinctively going to reply straight away.
The most important part is managing expectations, so make sure your customers and clients know that you’ve received their message and will get back to them when you can. If you feel you can’t reply properly in a short time frame, sending a ‘holding’ email is a great way to show that you’ve acknowledged the request. You can also include a timescale of when you plan to get back to them properly. Consider setting an ‘out of office’ message if you know you won’t be able to respond to any emails that day.
It’s not realistic to be able to do everything all the time and that’s why I started using The Priority Matrix as a tool to help me plan out my day and prioritise my workload. After using it so much its become second nature to me and it’s now a subconscious thing that I use all the time when considering time management.
Another technique I’ve used is to group my activities together. This involves me putting blocks of calls in at one time and then having blocks of time to actually work on the project. Having my calls all together during the morning gives me the chance to focus on solutions in the afternoon, without having to stop and start to make sure I don’t miss those calls.
Combine grouping your tasks with a to-do list which you can refer back to and tick off as you go along to be super organised!
How do you prevent burnout?
A: Preventing burnout is vital to being time-efficient all year round! You can minimise your burnout by doing small things every day.
It’s OK to take a break during the day if you feel your mind is being pushed to the limit. This can be you making yourself a cup of tea, going for a walk around the block, or just stepping away from your computer for a few minutes. You can also take a couple of Fridays here and there, where your workload permits, and use your annual leave to give yourself some long weekends.
If you’re struggling with your workload long term it’s a good idea to speak to your line manager or the project lead to let them know. They might be able to help you find a solution to a problem you was stuck on or provide some more support for you.
Try and incorporate little treats for yourself into your days and week. Daily, you can get some exercise by going for a walk or a run, listening to music that makes you feel good (Ariana Grande is always a popular pick with me!) and speak to your team and friends about non-work related topics.
Every week I make Fridays a big day where I celebrate with a nice treat and drink to finish the week! You can also try something like a bubble bath with candles or a face mask to pamper yourself! Occasionally treat yourself to something a bit bigger like a professional pamper session or massage, a nice pair of shoes or that big holiday.
This gives you something to look forward to and a reward for all your hard work throughout the year!
Kelly Raines is a lead consultant at Pracedo.
If you want to put your time management skills to the test, we are currently recruiting, view our open positions here!