Working on weekends is a hot topic when it comes to consulting. Many think it comes with the job, and it sure is part of the whole consulting life myth. In reality, as with all myths, that is only partly true.
There can be situations where working on a weekend cannot be avoided – but there are many more situations where you can. Today’s post is all about how to achieve that and make sure that as many weekends as possible stay free – ’cause you are working enough from Monday to Friday.
- Scope with a hidden agenda
You have a secret plan. You do not want to work on the weekend. Of course, you don’t want your project lead to know, because you’d seem all weak and “not taking one for the team” or even “not cut out for the job” (I am joking. Mostly.) Scoping to the rescue! It’s simple in theory: To avoid working on the weekend, plan your work so that the need does not arise. In real life, that might be trickier. My best tip is: Don’t agree on Monday as deadline for a deliverable. You’ll often end up on Friday thinking “gosh, I need to finish that… but hey, it’s only due in three days!” and end up sitting on the desk the next two days while your buddies are out having fun. On the other side, your project lead – depending on their style – might think “hey, he’s got some extra time for that over the weekend!” and adjust their expectations accordingly.
Time management often seems to be the issue – but is it really?
My own experience tells a different story. Of course, time management is important, especially in the fast-paced consulting world, where sometimes you feel like the week is just a stream of deadlines, meetings and deliverables. But often enough, energy is a more limiting factor than time…. and it seems that researchers agree big time.
Introducing The Energy Project, founded by Tony Schwartz, has been following this question for a few years now.
I got onto them because a former colleague sent me their article from Harvard Business Review, titled “Manage your Energy, Not Your Time”. It is available as a free download right from the website of The Energy Project.
Go there now, download it, print it out, read it the next time you are on the plane, train, or whatever your mode of transportation is.
The basic proposal is:
Be aware of what you focus on, and when.
Don’t try to multitask throughout the whole day, because it wears you down (Classic example: The every-five-minutes email interruption)
Fuel yourself with the energy of meaning and purpose.
I see some grinning faces already – as the tasks of a consultant bring it, sometimes when you are knee-deep in some data analysis, it is hard to see meaning and purpose of what you are doing there. What might help there is being aware of the big picture – what you will do with the data you dig out, for example. If the big picture is nothing that carries meaning and purpose for you, that would be an alarm bell ringing very loud right there.
In the worst case – when you are a junior down in the smallest stream of a huge project, far from the big picture strategy… be a renegade. Make your analysis, your pile of data, your Powerpoint slides something special – make it a game if you will.
If there is no meaning in what others give you, and you have no choice to reject it, then you better give it some meaning. Gosh, dare I say it – be creative! Your alternative is work that drags you down, and there are few things worse for your energy than that.