Everyone's heard the phrase "don't put all your eggs in one basket", right? It's so true in so many different ways that I figured it was time to do a business analysis of this phrase. After all, it's something that, for an independent consultant, can be hard to deal with.

Depending on what kind of work one does as an individual, sometimes it feels like you don't have many choices when it comes to putting all your eggs in one basket. For instance, if I get a long term contract it's hard to work on anything else while I'm doing it except for something quick like a speaking engagement. Even with a speaking engagement it's hard to do more than one at a time within a reasonable period because, if you consider yourself a professional, you'll prepare way in advance and then rehearse your material to make sure you know it and in order, whether you memorize a speech in detail or not.

Also, with some work, it's dependent upon the schedule of the client. Some clients will work with you immediately, while others, for whatever their reasons are, will be hit and miss. That leaves you with either a lot of open time or many deadlines that have to be filled all at once; that's not pleasant at all.

Still, there are ways around this, and they don't only pertain to the independent business person. These same strategies work in the traditional business model as well. As a matter of fact, I used to apply these same strategies when I was a daily employee that I use now. Here are 3 ways of getting around this.

1. Work on whatever comes first. This is the easiest thing to do as an independent. Whenever I have more than one thing pending I always tell all parties that the one that comes through first is the one I'm taking. Even if the other one is more lucrative I'd rather have a done deal than pass one up and lose the other one. It's the same with traditional business. If all other things are equal always do the one you got first. By not doing that, you might be sending a message that you think some people's issues are more important than other people's issues.

2. Work on critical issues first. Yeah, I know what I said in number one, but I made sure to add "all other things are equal". If you're faced with a decision that could shut down the business versus doing traditional projects you protect the overall interest first. If you get more than one critical issue at the same time pass the buck up the ladder if you can and let someone else decide for you. That might not seem like the most "leadership" proposition but it's actually very smart. Why wonder which way the person you report to would have gone? Just ask that person, and if they defer to you then you're in the clear. Otherwise, if you're later asked why you went one way or the other you get to be absolved of all blame. However, if it's you that makes all the decisions you just have to be circumspect with your decision and stick by it.

3. If you have many issues to get to, list them all and prioritize. This one should make sense but I'm still surprised by how many people won't do it, and then find that they've missed something they really needed to get to. I don't have the need to make this list as often as when I was an employee but I still make lists of projects I want or need to get done and then put them in some order. When I schedule things I'll often schedule them in 1 - 2 hour blocks to work on and then work on something else. Based on importance I might work on one thing longer than another. If I have something I can get out of the way fairly quickly I'll make sure to schedule that somewhere in the middle because I always believe that a series of successes or accomplishments, even small ones, helps boost one's spirit.

The thing is that I do many different things, and I never want to get locked into thinking one is always more important than another because I've been burned doing that. For independents and sales professionals, it's known as "keeping the pipeline filled". For people working a job it's the "Santa clause"; make a list and check it twice.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch  Mitchell