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#22: What To Do With "Found" Time

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Like many consultants, business is a little slower these days, but is looking up a few months from now. Instead of ramping up selling activities, which I am not sure I need, what else could I be doing with this "free" time?

In previous Tips, I have suggested that it is always prudent to have a list of activities for your "found" time. For example, if a client defers the start of a project for a month, what will you do with, say, 65 hours spread over the next four weeks? What we didn't mention is that list needs to be updated occasionally, since priorities will change with market conditions. A list you created last year is probably seriously out of date now.

What are your priorities over the next two years? What do you need lead time for? What will you miss most the next time you get really busy? Are your marketing materials getting a bit dated? Is your website in need of an overhaul? Do your past clients need a visit for a meal or a conversation to catch up? Have you always wanted to get started on a book but never had the 30-40 hours in one block of time to think through a good outline? Have you wanted to develop a new service with a prospective partner but needed to travel to their city and work out the details? What about taking consulting courses or attending conferences that you put off because you thought an hour of education meant an hour less billing? Not planning how you would spend a few hours, a few days or few weeks suddenly thrust on you will likely lead to you wasting them. Even if you decide to take a vacation with your family, you'd be wise to have thought it through.

Tip: If times are slow for your consulting practice over the next year, then make this time count and invest it. Once business picks up, you will wish you had it back. If your business is going in overdrive now, there is no better time to reflect on what you wish you had time for. Write it down. No, really, write it down in different length blocks of time and make sure you have all the arrangements to get started.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  planning  practice management 

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