Accountants are the backbone of every company. They manage all of the finances for an organization, making sure that everything is running smoothly and on time. With so much to do in a day, it can be hard to keep up with your daily tasks. Keep reading for 8 ways you can better manage your time working in an accounting firm!
Simply put, time is money. This is especially true for accounting and finance professionals. There is no doubt that the more efficiently you manage your schedule, the more money you’ll make and, surprisingly, the less you’ll have to work. Despite all the benefits, time management isn’t always our strong suit, and almost all of us could manage our schedule better.
For accountants, effective time management means more money and more time to spend on the things that genuinely help grow your business. If you feel like your schedule is getting away from you, try some of these steps to get it back under control and make the best use of your time:
1. Organize your Office
It is not always easy to keep your accounting firm organized at all times, but looking at the benefits of doing so can really put into perspective how important it is. As accountants, we waste a lot of time simply trying to locate specific documents or files in the office archives. We understand that not everyone is organized at heart. However, this is definitely a skill you will benefit from adopting. Try taking ten to fifteen minutes at the end of each workday to organize your files and save half an hour of frustration the next day.
2. Organize your calls and email
When it comes to email and call organization, there are two aspects to focus on; time management and email categorization. A single phone call can waste a lot of your time and can result in delayed tasks. We do not suggest that you don’t encourage your clients to call. However, it would help if you established office hours to take calls and reply to emails. It is also essential that your email is categorized and that it is easy for you to find critical client emails when you need them.
3. Track your time
Although we realize it can be frustrating sometimes, tracking your time can be very beneficial. Billing your clients by the hour is much easier when you have a verifiable record of the time that you work on their accounts. Besides that, simply tracking your time can give you a view of where your weak areas are and help you create a plan to eliminate or reduce those inefficiencies.
4. Use a time management tool
For an accounting firm, sometimes a simple time management tool like Google Calendar or Outlook might be fine. However, for those firms which tend to juggle a larger number of clients and a larger number of tasks simultaneously, you should consider more in-depth project management and time management tools like Asana or Trello.
5. Identify your productivity highpoints
For everyone, there are certain times of the day you are more likely to be productive than others. This will be the time you are able to get the bulk of your work done. It is different for different people. For some, it is the morning before the phone rings, and for others, it can be after the lunch break. Tracking your time, as mentioned before, will help you identify those periods during which you get the most done. Plan your schedule around those natural rhythms.
6. Reduce your hard copy
Generally, accounting firms both generate and maintain large volumes of paperwork. We realize you are required to hold onto some for compliance reasons. However, other paperwork you can either eliminate or convert to a digital format. Digital documents will give you added flexibility by making it easy to pull up a client’s invoices. Doing so electronically is quicker than getting up, browsing through a filing cabinet, and pulling out what you need. This also eliminates the risk of misfiling or misplacing important paperwork.
When it comes to prioritization, it’s always best to follow the Pareto principle, also referred to as the 80/20 rule. It stated that 80% of your results should come from 20% of the effort. This means that you have to be selective about the tasks you give priority to. Try to identify functions in your business that produce the most significant results and put them at the top of your list. This does not mean that the other 80% of the tasks should not be performed, only that if it comes down to choosing what to cut out of a given day’s schedule, you know where to begin.
8. Say “No”
Although saying no to new clients is a surefire way to slow your business’ growth, it’s important to know how much you can manage and what is out of your control. If you start to notice that you cannot handle all the accounting work coming your way, maybe it is time to consider onboarding an outsourced accounting partner to help balance those busy times. Sometimes you have to say “no,” but make sure it’s truly necessary before you do.
As an accountant, your productivity relies on your ability to manage your time. Time management does not only mean your business will run more efficiently but also that it ultimately means that your clients will get better service. Put these principles into place, and you’ll be surprised just how quickly your efficiency and productivity increase. If you need more tips on how to manage your accounting firm and different accounting practices, check out the rest of our blogs!