I know that not everyone appreciates hearing how hard someone else is working, especially during a lockdown period when many other people have been furloughed or made redundant. But I hear a lot of my colleagues telling me the same thing: they have never been busier. True a lot of my colleagues are strategic consultants to social impact organisations who are needing to pivot their strategies to cope with the ‘new normal’, so of course there is going to be increased demand. But what is not often said is that for many, this extra work is coming at a cost: how do you manage all this extra demand and still deliver your very best for every client?
You have to learn to manage many different priorities and manage client expectations.
This is something all busy people can tell you. What they don’t tell you is how.
So here are my top tips for keeping busy and staying sane:
- When to say yes: it is tempting at the moment to say yes to every client or contract that comes along because you know you need the income. But beware: only take on those clients and those contracts that align with your own personal mission and values. Working on a contract or for a client who has different priorities to you will only wear you down;
- Keeping a broad view: use a tool or a piece of software that will allow you to have a broad view of all the work you’re doing at any one time. Regularly review your progress on all your projects. This isn’t wasted, un-billed time. Rather, it is necessary to ensure you can deliver your best for your clients, spot issues and challenges and make timely suggestions relevant to their needs;
- Take time away from the desk: Okay, I’ll hold my hand up here and say that I am particularly bad at this and always get told off for not taking enough breaks. But the pundits are right on this one. When you get tired, you make mistakes and that costs you more time and energy and further delays to get right. It also affects your professional reputation;
- Clear communication: I’ve probably said this many times before. But communicating clearly and regularly to your clients is essential for managing their expectations and your workload; and
- Understand your own capacity: it is easy to think “I’ll have time to do that one more job” until you realise you’ve said yes once too often. Some people develop strategies and playbooks that help them to understand what each contract will require and therefore how many they can do. For others, its more intuitive, each job is different and has different process needs. In which case you need to be very good upfront in determining how much effort you have to put into a job. Whatever your approach is, make sure it helps you understand when to say yes and when to say no.
As we all get our businesses and our clients back up and running we will all be called upon to do more than we’ve done before. How you will manage the additional call on your time?