Consulting Lessons Learned 30: Optimizing weekends

Many consulting new-hires underestimate the impact of their job start on their leisure time. It was the same for me: As a student, I was used to do “annoying” household tasks like washing clothes, cleaning my apartment, or going grocery shopping during the workweek. I was used to going for basketball training on Tuesday evenings. I was used to meeting friends for lunch or dinner during the workweek.

All that changes when you start in consulting! Mondays to Fridays belong entirely to the firm. Typically, you won’t even be at home at least form Monday to Thursday. Every weekend becomes a trade-off between finally getting some sleep, doing all annoying tasks and also having some time for your friends & family.

Here are a few best practices on how to optimize your weekends as a consultant:

First, outsource as much as you can. Let your local dry-cleaning take care of your shirts. Hire someone to clean your apartment and maybe even do some regular grocery shopping for you. Of course, this will cost you some additional money. But free time is very rare in consulting and way too valuable.

Second, reserve Saturday mornings for sleeping long. During the workweek, you often won’t get much sleep. Don’t make the mistake to invite a friend at 8am on a Saturday morning. Reserve some time to rest and re-charge your batteries

Third and most importantly: Make realistic plans! Especially when coming straight from university, you will be used to do a lot more on a typical weekend. Just as planning your work, try to also plan your weekends. Start with the musts and then see which gaps are left open for other leisure activities. Plan joint activities with friends more in advance. Don’t overload your weekends. And always communicate this plan with your spouse or best friend proactively. It can be very disappointing for everyone, when you only realize on a Saturday morning, that you actually won’t have any time at all for each other.