1. Make a Weekly Plan of Activities with a Time Estimate
Before entering your planned tasks in a to-do list or a planner, try to determine your priorities well.
Create a list of all of your work tasks for a specific period.
Once you have the list of all your tasks you should consider the following for every task:
Can you eliminate the task?
Each week, find a list of items that are candidates for elimination. These can be
- Time-consuming calls with clients that can’t contribute to your income or work quality
- Internal meetings
- Non-urgent and low-importance tasks
- Events you’ve been invited to
Ask yourself the following question:
“Does this move me closer to my most important goals?”
Yes: Move to the next question
Can you delegate the task?
If you have a team to lead, check the importance and complexity of the task and delegate as much as possible.
Try to establish your delegating habits. Administrative tasks are a staple in accounting. Depending on their position and seniority, senior accountants should delegate tasks such as:
- Booking bank statements
- Booking outgoing invoices
- Sorting papers into files, as well as working with documentation
- Client communication regarding the delivery of the documentation
Put the tasks you cannot delegate on your to do list or planer.
Can you simplify the task?
Inspect the elements of your work you can simplify. For example, instead of going to a meeting where you need to commute and look for a parking spot, resort to online meetings.
Secondly, if you have frequent email exchanges with your team, create a free Slack account and simplify the process.
So, when you have a list of tasks, ask yourself whether you can simplify any of them.
If yes, do your best to take the essential simplified steps to complete the task.
If no, move to the next step.
Can I automate this task?
Here are some examples of what accountants can automate or semi-automate:
- The preparation and control of the monthly checklists and employee collaboration regarding the monthly closing
You can use a free version of a project management tool, such as Trello, for this activity.
The tool allows you to create checklists and assign them to team members and track the progress status.
- An agreement with the clients to upload documents to a cloud
For example, you can create a separate folder for each type of document: bank statements, incoming invoices, etc. it is also important to agree on the deadline by which the client should submit the documentation. This way, you will reduce the time you spend with the client related to documentation collecting
- Check whether your accounting software can import a document and automatically prepare general ledge posting orders based on the document type.
Once you’ve gone through all the abovementioned questions, you can create your to-do list which will lead you to greater efficiency.
You can use google calendar or another weekly time tracking or planning tool:
2. Track Time on Tasks and Clients
Time tracking will help you further improve your productivity.
Determining where you’re spending more time than expected can be an important guide to whether you’ve delegated and eliminated the right tasks.
Also, if you track time per client, you will be able to identify profitable and unprofitable clients. This information is a significant indicator of fee increases for unprofitable clients.
Ask your employees to track time to be able to track the time consumption of the entire team as well.
3. Information Intake Control
We all receive an incredible amount of information every day. This information comes in all shapes and sizes. Hence, you should be able to determine the actual value of the information you’re shown.
Sometimes information will appear important but add very little, or no value. Incorporating it into your day doesn’t help you, but only takes away your most important resource – time.
Of course, we aren’t saying you should avoid all information. However, you need to learn to differentiate between important and unimportant.
Once you’ve narrowed down your information sources to only the relevant ones, you will be able to focus on your work without interruptions.
4. Identify Your Distractors
There are many distractions we face each day. Many of them come from the internet. This isn’t surprising, as you spend a lot of time on your computer due to the nature of the accounting business.
If you want to eliminate all distractions, the most logical step would be going offline. However, the internet is also the source of many tools and information you need on a daily basis. Not to mention client communication.
That is to say, turning the modem off will not be possible. So, you will have to become more aware of how you spend your time online while at work and practice some discipline.
Make a habit of checking your social media and email twice a day. The beginning and end of your workday are good options.
This will not only help you have a more balanced daily schedule but also show your clients that you have priorities. After all, not every inquiry requires an instant reply.
5. Time Management Techniques
Time blocking is a work practice that entails dividing your time into dedicated periods, or blocks. You can only work on one thing at a time. In other words, time blocking will help you organize your days in a way that ensures a high level of focus.
The Pomodoro technique works similarly. You set a timer for 25 minutes. Once the timer rings, you take a five minute break. This period is meant to be dedicated to resting, chatting with coworkers, listening to music, etc.
Taking regular breaks when you need them is a great way to keep your mind sharp and your productivity high. This method doesn’t follow any patterns except for your personal work rhythm. In other words, it’s the most adjustable of the three.
6. Refuse Work that Would Overwhelm You
We all have our limits when it comes to the amount of work we can do. Additionally, there are only so many (work) hours in a day. Hence, you should set boundaries.
Whether it’s clients asking for unreasonable deadlines, coworkers who need help with things they can easily google, or bosses increasing your workload, you should be able to think things through. If you can’t finish your own work and help others, you should set a clear boundary and learn to say “no”.
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