Staying ahead in consulting is tough. To stay ahead, your need to constantly improve your consulting productivity. You are competing against many other smart consultants who all want to the top advisor to their clients. We compiled a set of tools that we use to be more efficient with your time and also successful with our client engagements and business development efforts. Let us know if we missed any great tools that you use! Here are the top useful tools for improving your consulting productivity:
Evernote. As a consultant, you need to be organized: The timelines are tight, you deal with many stakeholders, you gain and absorb a lot of information in a short amount of time. Keeping track of all the moving parts is tough and you need a great note taking, organizer tool. That is where Evenote comes in. Evernote is great for consultants: You can create notebooks for each project or client. It is synchronized across devices, so you can take notes on your tablet during meetings, review and revise them with your laptop. If you do not have access to your own computer, you can log on from any computer and use your notes. This is particularly handy when your computer dies, this will be a lifesaver. Trust me with all the usage, travel and wear, it will die on you at 2am on a client engagement, away from your home office with no IT guy to help you at some point in your consulting career. Here is the link to sign up to Evernote, it is FREE for basic edition, which is just fine for most users.
Moleskine Classic Notebook. For those of us that are less digitally inclined, you can use a paper notebook. Also, there some situations, where taking a laptop along will make you look like a rookie. If you interviewing a senior client or industry expert in person (i.e. not over the phone), it is usually a good idea to take a notebook with you and take high-level notes, vs. frantically typing on your computer. Moleskine notebooks are a great choice for note taking as a consultant. They look professional, are durable to withstand travel in your crammed laptop bag. I recommend starting a new notebook for each client to keep organized and avoid confidential info to be lost. I used to go through five to six of these notebooks every year and still use them when I want paper vs. digital. Here is the link to buy the Moleskine Classic Notebook.
4-Hour Workweek. This is a wildly successful book and a best seller that is geared towards time management, how to set up your support system, scaling your activities. The productivity master Tim Ferris shares some ideas/concepts here that are readily applicable to consulting. For example, using virtual assistants in 4-Hour Workweek translates into using support staff in consulting. For client engagements, you can use your or the partner’s assistants to help with travel booking for the team and scheduling regular team meetings. The powerpoint slide production can be outsourced to your company’s outsourced documentation teams. Many firms like McKinsey, Strategy &, Oliver Wyman have teams that help you with research and document creation. These kinds of ideas will help you greatly with increasing your productivity. Make sure to check out the 4-Hour Workweek.
Wunderlist. There is always a list of To Do’s in consulting, you work on a neverending list of client, team, firm-related tasks. If you want to keep track of all these different tasks Wunderlist is a great application. Wunderlist is highly focused on To Do’s vs. a general note taking app with features such as push notifications, sharing with friends, co-workers and family and they are available on both Android and iOS. For a consultant it makes sense to create seperate task lists for clients, internal tasks as well as personal tasks like picking up dry cleaning. They recently got acquired by Microsoft but the basic version is still FREE to use. You can check them out here.