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After 10 days of hard work, back to normal

January 14, 2008

After an exhausting first two weeks of 2008 I think my work schedule has calmed down considerably. We had a couple tight deadlines which resulted in some people (not me, thankfully) working until 2 a.m. or later most nights. All that is behind us though, and it looks like my schedule is back to normal, at least until the next “crisis” hits us.

As Andy I were discussing last week, and really anyone in a professional services firm can attest, the secret to a good work-life balance is in the “hours worked to hours billed” ratio. The HW:HB ratio is not something you will learn in a finance or accounting class in college, but it is perhaps the most essential calculation in the consulting profession. My downfall this past week was that my ratio was dangerously close to 1.00, meaning I was actually working all the hours I billed. This is even more troubling considering the long hours I worked.

A good consultant never wants his HW:HB ratio above 0.66. Working 6 hours and billing 9 is pretty standard, and it allows you ample free time at the end of your day. It also gives you a little padding in the “hours worked” category at the end of the year, which is one of the main criteria on which consultants are judged.

Making the number of hours I bill one of the key drivers in my raises and bonuses obviously gives me an incentive to bill more hours. And while efficiency may be rewarded, it will never beat out “hours worked,” giving me an incentive not to do anything too quickly. Hence, the HW:HB ratio. Welcome to the consulting profession.

The important thing is that I’m back and will be blogging regularly again.

One Comment leave one →
  1. andy permalink*
    January 14, 2008 11:13 am

    We talked about this, and like he said, anyone involved in this sort of field knows about a sort of “unwritten rule”. It’s very tongue-in-cheek. My managers always pick their words carefully. I’m urged to “try and bill 44 hours a week”. Never am I urged explicitly to “try and work 44 hours a week”. Wink wink, jab jab. It’s kind of juvenile, but honestly I can’t blame the people in charge. Does anyone have the attention span to do constant, real, authentic work for 9 hours a day 5 days a week?

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