Consulting is notorious for its long hours and grueling workweeks. It doesn’t have to be that way.
My first manager at Accenture told me something that has always stuck with me. “Be bright, be brief, be gone.” It’s not about how long you sit at a desk or how many hours you bill. Get your work done. Work independently. Go home and have a life.
During that project I never once checked email outside of working hours. All my work got done during… well… work. In one performance review my manager said that she admired the fact that I was out of the office before 6 PM and encouraged me to keep it up.
It’s been 6 years since then, and I still don’t have email on my phone. I still don’t work at home in the evenings. There are occasional late nights or early mornings, but they aren’t the norm. And you know what? I’ve been promoted on schedule every time. My performance reviews are consistently strong. I continue to learn and grow and get my work done well.
During my free time I’ve started a web development company, worked part-time for a startup, spoken at a conference, given webcasts, volunteered weekly, and read more than a book a week. I’ve also gotten married, had a child, taken up cycling, organized mountaineering trips, and started Think Group. Those are much better uses of my time.
Be bright, be brief, be gone. You will be more valuable to your organization if you recharge, network, learn, experiment, and grow outside of work.
Your level of productivity is awe inspiring; I wish I had your work ethic and drive. I couldn’t agree more with the topic of your post. I’ve often found myself overdoing it for no good reason and ended up regretting the wasted hours I have spent in the office – I’m not as well rounded and effective when I’m not spending enough time at home with my wife and hobbies.
Thank you Jeff! What I’m toying with now is how to better align my passions outside of work with what I do on a day-to-day basis. The ultimate productivity is to spend those 40-45 hours a week learning and growing in the way you most want to.
As we’ve talked about your job, it sounds like you’re able to spend a good percentage of time on things you would be passionate about outside of work as well.
[…] my second reading I disagreed with his argument. Consultants often work long hours. They get on a plane on Monday morning, fly to a city they don’t call home, work 12- to […]