This week has been a very hectic one for me and the stress is sure to spill into next week. I have three course manuals to get done as soon as possible, just done with one yesterday after about a 10 hour stretch of typing. The assignment for one of my MBA modules is due this weekend; I have a lot of research and writing and referencing to do (planning to spend the whole of this evening and tomorrow and Saturday on it). I have three pending jobs to do and still don't know how I'll find time for them. Then next week I have a training to conduct on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And Monday's are my toughest day of the week as I consult on a big client project. Monday's and Tuesday's, but I will plead for absence on Tuesday.
There have been days I get called in the morning to come facilitate a training that same day. Most jobs I get, the client wants them done almost immediately. And sometimes I find it a little tough switching from training to programming and then to report analysis even though they are all tasks I do in Excel. It makes me wonder how my general consulting entrepreneur friends are able to cope with their work.
I benefit immensely from going the path of a specialist. I am able to reuse everything I do. Every Excel training I take makes the next one easier to take. Now it's almost like I run an Excel show, dazzling and empowering participants to do things they never thought possible with Excel. And all the preparation I make before the training is to wear my best clothes and show up.
Last week I helped a US organization fix an Excel issue. We did a Skype meeting and in the space of the 1 hour 30 mins spent on understanding the issue and fixing it, I wrote an Excel VBA program to automate the activity they wanted done. It is a very hard thing to do, to learn about an issue and think out a solution while on a Skype call with screensharing that is the equivalent of being watched (something that greatly interferes with programming effectively). I couldn't even google for any code piece or check to see if anyone had fixed a similar issue on StackOverflow. I had to start from ground zero amidst the distraction of having someone hear your thoughts and view your PC screen. If I had been mixing Excel programming with web programming, it would have been tougher.
Also every material I write is original and rich with practical insights, the result of working on live projects and different companies with my Excel skill. Being a specialist makes you work less for great results. You are able to do much more in little time and fix issues people have been battling with for weeks. But the best part is that you are able to charge more even as you expend less energy.
Every week I am always busy, but most of my work are now sort of autopiloting. I have become so good and experienced at a lot of things that I get them done without feeling like I have expended much energy. The work that stresses me are the ones that are new, and the new technologies/applications I am trying to learn. I think being a specialist is more effort rewarding that being a generalist.