Setting Up Your Consulting Practice

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Strategy

Topic: Managing Your Time

Managing your time comes down to tools and discipline. Track client work, skills development, client development and more — daily, weekly and monthly.

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As you’re setting up your own firm, I suggest you take some time to reflect on and to decide how are you going to manage your own time. So when you’re in a corporate world or you’re in a professional services firm, there’s a lot of people — most likely more senior than you, that are giving you guidance, and giving you requests, and giving you expectations of what you should be doing with your time, people demanding that you show up for meetings.

But once you’re running your own firm, all of a sudden things change a little bit and it’s good to have a mechanism and approach to managing and scheduling your time.

So I’ve gone through several iterations over the years.

My current iteration is I use the Bullet Journal approach. Every morning, what I do is I sit down. First thing I do when I get to my desk is I take about 10 minutes, and by hand, I have a paper journal, I turn the page, and I write down the date, and I write down a checklist of items of things that I want to get done that day.

And then highlight the ones that are the most important, the ones that I have to get done that day.

I also in that bullet journal will periodically write down what are the longer-range projects that I’m working on and other things that I want to get done — that month or that year.

For me, at least, the practice of rewriting those items by hand is a bit of a forcing function that is… you know, sometimes things don’t get done and I drop them from that list.

I say, “Look, I’m no longer that interested enough to actually rewrite it again.” So the fact of rewriting those lists of action items helps me.

The other tip that I picked up from Nir Eyal, and you can check my the podcast, the episode with Nir on that one, is time boxing.

So after rewriting that list of action items in the morning of literally scheduling on my calendar what hour of the day I’m going to work on each one.

And it’s a signal to me in the morning that if I’m not willing to put something on the calendar, probably not going to get it done that day. So you have… maybe have a different system, maybe you like electronic; maybe you have something else.

But coming up with a system to manage your own time, not only do the daily tasks but to do those larger long term tasks that are important in setting up and running your firm.

So, time spent investing in skills, time spent investing in developing new relationships, time spent in developing your thought leadership.

How are you going to manage those tasks and come up now with the system for that — which you may evolve over time — but come up with a system of how you’re gonna manage your time on a daily, weekly, monthly schedule.