This is one of the most popular questions amongst my students:
Marc, what is the top thing most aspiring consultants have to learn during their first weeks on the job?
And while there is not the one only answer, one of those thing will definitely be this one: Being able to quickly get a sense of how much effort it will take you to complete a task is something most aspiring consultants have to learn during their first weeks on the job.
I already experienced this several times: Young new-hires doing all-nighters, simply because they didn’t had any feeling at all how long a certain task would take them. If you would tell any project manager that you would need all night to complete a certain task, I am pretty certain no one would ask you to do it.
But the problem is that you don’t have that feeling. You say “yes” to tasks, want to show your great commitment and only realize at 1am in the morning, that a certain task will take much longer than originally planned.
Therefore, try to learn this lesson as early as possible. Whenever you start working on tasks, try to ask yourself: How long will I need for this? And then measure the time you needed to complete the task.
Experienced consultants will be able to tell you very precisely, how much effort a certain task will take them. This is a key to managing yourself through the busy consulting workdays.