16 Time Management Tips for Solo Consultants
There is no shortage of advice about how to manage (and optimize) your time as an entrepreneur. I’ve given this some thought and decided to share the time management strategies I found helpful when I was a solo consultant and now that I have a small staff.
Some of these tips you may have seen before, but they are listed here because I personally use them to stay on track and sometimes to get ahead.
Prepare for the week ahead
You will be much more prepared for the upcoming week if you spend one hour taking stock of scheduled meetings with clients, approaching deadlines, staff meetings, time off requests, sales calls, and other activities. Each Sunday afternoon I create a list of each of these items so I can plan ahead, start building agenda for various meetings, delegate tasks that can be completed by staff, and strategize for sales calls.
Create agenda for staff and client meetings ahead of time
There is always something to do, a decision to make, an initiative to implement, or a client whose needs may have shifted so I make it a habit to always create agenda for meetings. There are times when I add 1-2 topics over several days when I remember something we have to discuss. Other times I create the agenda the day of the meeting. Regardless of the approach you take, you will have productive meetings and much more clarity for each engagement.
Wake up earlier
I now consistently wake up between 5:00 – 5:30am. I did this regularly as a working mother but sticking to this as a business owner became inconsistent. I wake up at this time so I can complete my full morning routine which includes doing my SAVERS (see Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs) and be in my office by 7:00am.
Set and keep a schedule
When your workday starts at 7:00am, you can usually be finished between 5:30-6:30pm or earlier unless a time-sensitive request must be handled before you finish for the day.
Create a daily to do list
This practice has been a mainstay as an employee and it's still a daily practice as an entrepreneur. Doing this is as easy as taking 10 minutes to create lists of the following: general tasks for the business such as contacting the benefits specialist or reviewing financial reports, deliverables by client, and any personal tasks.
Keep your workspace organized
It goes without saying that a messy workspace can lead to delays. However, I recognize that people organize in different ways. I recently learned about the different organization styles and while I have what's considered a "traditional” organization style of minimal visual clutter, I realize one person’s mess is another person’s organized space. So, whatever your style, keep it that way so you can find what you need when you need it.
Make personal calls such as doctor appointments between 9a-10a only
This isn’t always possible, but I find that making these calls as soon as these businesses open (typically around 9am) I am able to quickly get the appointments booked. Completing other personal tasks first thing in the morning also reduces the chances you will forget.
Remove your phone from your office or workspace
On those days when a deadline is fast approaching (or maybe every weekday), keeping your phone out of your office prevents distractions and is a signal to your mind that you plan on working uninterrupted. You can keep it nearby in case you don’t want to miss a call from your child’s school or from an ailing family member. In that case, put it on Focus or Do Not Disturb and assign your children’s school phone numbers as calls that can ring even when your phone is in Focus or Do Not Disturb mode.
Disconnect your phone from your laptop
I started noticing how many calls happen to ring on my laptop while I’m in meetings or when I’m working so I disconnected my phone from my laptop, so it doesn’t ring through my laptop—a major disruption for me and probably for you too.
Turn off all notifications
If you’re a parent or a caretaker like me, this may not be possible, but you can still put your phone in Focus or Do Not Disturb mode and assign your children’s school or parents’ phone numbers as calls that can ring even when your phone is in this mode.
Remove all tasks and activities from your calendar and send all calls to voicemail (or an answering service) on deadline days
We know those deadline days are when we need to make final edits or have a quick meeting with a collaborator or co-worker so keep your calendar clear and block all non-emergency calls.
Block out your preferred work time
I block all meetings from 7am – 12pm unless it was a prescheduled, recurring meeting that I must participate in. Otherwise, I do not schedule or allow anyone to schedule meetings on my calendar at time. What time works best for you? Decide and block it.
Set your calendar app to only allow a two-hour time frame for free consultations
Taking this step really helped control my calendar and it may help you too.
Automate, automate, automate
One of the topics we cover in the Ready Set Go Consult Accelerator is the importance of automating certain repetitive tasks. We already know about standard automations such as receiving a thank you message immediately after you make an online purchase or a confirmation of your online order. You can (and should) set up automations for your consulting business such as sending an email immediately after someone contacts you on your website.
Use a project management app
Using a project management app to manage your projects is a no brainer but think about all the ways you’re able to save time because you can quickly find the documents you need, learn who is responsible for a task, communicate with a team member about a specific task, or reassign a deliverable. There are also several automations that can be created to amp up your efficiency and save valuable time.
Use a CRM system
A customer relationship management system can also be used to enhance your time management. They are designed to help with customer service, improve customer retention, increase sales and more. They can also increase productivity by automatically making sure the right emails are sent to the right people at the right time—once the automation is created.
Give these tips a try and send us a note at [email protected] to share your story with us.
Ready to launch your independent consulting business but need the know-how? Download The Ultimate Consultant's Starter Kit here.
Join the Ready Set Go Consult Free Masterclass
Start building your consulting business using the same proven strategy that I used in my personal business.
We respect your privacy and will not share your information.