What is a typical day in the life of a consultant? Most people are likely to answer this question with one word naturally coming out of their mouth: busy. We are all manic, busy, checking emails, taking phone calls and trying to please everyone from clients, to staff and key stakeholders. Is a day full of activities like that truly an effective day? I would argue that it is not. Consultants are obviously busier than before but they are less significant in what they achieve because of the reactive state they find themselves most of the time.
I myself spend a significant amount of time in meetings and workshops with consultants and clients, and see emails being checked, phones being answered and people not being in the moment. By trying to do so many things at a time, consultants are losing the opportunity to really engage with their colleagues and build the relationships necessary to foster trust, work through things that matter and provide the focus and direction that is required by organisations.
There is a fine line between being busy and being productive. Ticking tasks off the list is totally different to achieving meaningful outcomes and having an impact which is largely driven through people. Does it really make sense? Are you making a significant difference in your organisation? Are you devoting time with your clients on these areas or relationships that would achieve positive shifts?
So what is the best way to assess this?
Have a thorough look at your calendar and review where your time goes. The evidence does not lie, nor does the past as it is a predictor of future performance. Make sure your diary addresses the priorities where you need to be and the things that matter. If not, get good at planning, get focused on your big rocks that will have an impact and let the pebbles go.
Being productive, ultimately, is all about doing the most significantly important things, allocating your energy to things that really matter. Whereas being simply busy means trying to get everything done and sometimes leads you to the wrong direction at the expense of your time and energy.
Protect your most important asset by managing it in a proactive manner!