7 practical productivity tips for consultants

A career in consulting can be extremely competitive.  A job in Australia’s $20 billion consulting market is among the most sought-after in the world, offering attractive growth opportunities and great pay.

It’s therefore crucial to be on your game. You want to be as efficient and effective as possible to stand out from the crowd.

But workplaces are notorious for time-sucking activities and it’s easy to lose your days in mind-numbing meetings and responding to endless chains of emails.

If you aren’t careful, these inefficiencies will push you back in the pecking order and stall your career.

The point is even more critical if you run your own small consulting business as it’s not just your reputation to manage but your business itself.

Here are seven consultancy tips to optimise your work and increase productivity in order to be a cut above the rest in the cut-throat consulting industry.

1. Be selective with your email time

Do you ever feel like you have one eye on your email app just in case you missed a message? Consultants open their email program several times a day, anticipating the next one. Others have notification software that alerts them when new email arrives.

While it may seem like you’re doing work, it distracts you from the job at hand and can become an incredibly disruptive habit.

Instead, set time slots during the day when you will check your email and respond to it. If this seems like too much work, close your email program and only open it when you are done with other priorities.

You can set up an autoresponder to notify people that you only check your email once or twice per day. This acknowledges the message without it distracting you.

2. Get off social media during work

If one eye is waiting in anticipation for your email app to ping, the other is probably looking at the endless stream of mayhem on their social media feeds.

Some people check their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts several times a day, even multiple times per hour.

Social media companies are masters at creating inefficiency. It’s easy to end up scrolling through an article, watching a video or clicking around on other websites until it’s time to clock off.

Most consultants don’t have the luxury of time and their social scrolling is best kept to a minimum or at break time.

Some smartphones even have built-in features to manage your screen time, which can help you manage your social media addiction.

Recommended reading: Social media risks when running a small business

3. Drink more water and keep active

The effects on productivity of water and keeping active cannot be overstated.

Establishing an exercise routine can enhance your creativity, improve your concentration, and make you more focused at work, according to recent research.

Exercise is also important for both your physical and mental health. It gives you clarity. It doesn’t matter whether you stretch every 40 minutes or walk for 20 minutes each day. As long as you are moving, it doesn’t matter.

Similarly, drinking water regularly is everything when it comes to increasing productivity. Too often, consultants are on a cycle of being drip-fed coffee throughout the day, manically getting on their hamster wheels before quickly tiring themselves out. And then the cycle repeats.

Numerous medical studies show that hydration can give you more productivity by dispersing your energy levels more naturally and consistently throughout your day.

4. Create a healthy work environment

For many, the key to focusing is a healthy work environment. Ensure your work desk has nothing that can divert your attention from your priority. That means no leaving a cluttered stack of papers for you to straighten or some dishes to put away.

Many consultants now work from home, which brings with it a whole new set of distractions. But the same rules apply.

Remove any chance of procrastinating before you start your day. If you’re not sure, ask yourself: “Is it helping me be productive and focused?” Then, deal with it accordingly.

5. Make the most of your commute time (or lack thereof)

Whether it’s by catching the train, bus or driving to work, many consultants face a lengthy commute every morning and night.

For some this is blank time, staring idly at the back of a different consultant’s head sat in front of them.

“Where does the time go?” they say, wishing they had a moment to spend on themselves.

If that sounds like you, then it’s probably best to change your mindset.

Think of your commute as time to do the things you like. Listen to an audiobook, a personal development podcast or read a blog about being more productive as a consultant.

This will help separate your work and personal life allowing you more time to focus during your workday.

And if you work from home, don’t let this time slip away sleeping in. Make the most of it and be productive.

6. Use technology to cut wasted time

While consultants work across a broad range of industries, many will face similar challenges when trying to be more productive.

Fortunately, there are many apps out there that are designed to remove these inefficiencies and get you working at your optimal level.

Here are a few that could come in handy:

Time management apps – Like the name suggests, time management apps help you control the time spent doing tasks. From ToDoist to Google tasks, there are many different options available both paid and free designed to help you keep track of your time.

Focus apps – Apps like Focus and Serene will help you block out distracting websites (like social media sites) during your work day while the Freedom app allows you to get into the habit of scheduling focus time-blocks.

Practical apps – These apps are designed with a specific purpose in mind. Whether it’s Docusign, which allows you to sign PDF documents in a breeze, or apps like Slack or Teams, which allows you to interact with your team remotely without emails, there are plenty of options to improve your processes.

7. Ensure you are protected with insurance for consultants

The common risk shared among nearly all consultants is the consequences of giving bad advice. If your specialist advice results in a loss for your clients, it could result in a claim being made against you and your business.

Not only could it be expensive and reputationally damaging but dealing with a claim against your consultancy business can be a real time suck.

From responding promptly to every email and phone call to potentially ending up in court, not to mention the stress of the situation, a claim can be extremely distracting and affect your productivity.

Luckily, Professional Indemnity insurance is there to cover the financial loss and legal costs in the event of a claim. This claim may be a result of an actual or alleged negligent act, error or omission whilst providing your professional service or advice.

Online service BizCover offers Professional Indemnity cover and other types of insurance products for many different consultancy occupations in Australia. Consider checking them out and you’ll be covered in no time so you can get back to being productive.

Whether you’ve landed on this page for some management consultant hacks or simply just some tips for new consultants, it’s important to try and improve your productivity.

Hopefully, these seven tips for consultants will help you stay productive and assist you in your career.

This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording.
© 2022 BizCover Pty Limited, all rights reserved. ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769
ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769

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