Tax preparation season is in full swing, and the heat is on. If your accounting business is overloaded, these time management tips for accountants can help take some of the pressure off.
10 Time Management Tips for Accountants
Find and consistently use a calendaring and time tracking system
A cloud-based calendar is best; that way, you can always be sure your schedule is current, whether you’re reviewing your calendar on your phone, your office computer, or your home laptop.
At this time of year, you need to accept that some things just aren’t going to get done. Determine which tasks are the most important, both personal and professional, and focus on those.
Set aside time for more complex projects
If you have a client with complicated tax issues that require a lot of concentration, reading, or calculating, set aside a chunk of time to focus when you won’t be interrupted. This may require coming in to the office before everyone else, staying late, or working at home.
Keep your to-do list short
If your to-do list is 20 items long, you’re going to feel overwhelmed before you even start your day. Instead, choose three high-priority items to focus on. Even if that’s all you get done that day, you’ll feel like you accomplished something. And if you happen to finish the three tasks in a few hours, create another short to-do list for the rest of the day.
Batch your tasks
Low-value tasks like sending and replying to emails, filing documents, and making phone calls are often essential to accomplishing bigger tasks—and one of the most important time management tips for accountants. To avoid getting sidetracked and using all your brainpower on simple tasks, “batch” them into groups. For example, spend 20 minutes at the end of the day replying to emails, or file papers after you’ve completed a big project.
Take short breaks to reward yourself
You may not be able to keep up your regular workout routine or go out to lunch during tax season, but you should still take some downtime to refresh yourself. Take a 10-minute walk around the block, do some stretches in your office, or grab a cup of tea in the break room.
Give your employees tasks that stretch their skills. Both you and your employees will benefit. If you’re a one-person accounting office, consider hiring a virtual assistant or a temp to help you during the busy season. You can delegate elements of your personal life, too. For instance, hire a cleaning service for your home, get takeout instead of cooking, or order your groceries online rather than going to the store.
Build in time for interruptions
If you book every minute of your schedule with tasks, calls, and meetings, you’ll get frustrated when inevitable interruptions occur and knock you off schedule. Try building 10 to 15 minutes in-between tasks or overestimate how long it will take you to complete a task.
Manage your clients’ expectations
Be realistic about what you can accomplish and don’t overpromise. Instead, try to under-promise and over-deliver. Help your clients help you by having them complete some basic steps to make tax preparation easier.
Plan a reward for after tax season
You’re going to need some R&R after the busy season ends. Give yourself something to look forward to by planning a vacation, golf weekend, or other fun activity. Once that’s over, take steps to improve your accounting business’s cash flow.
By trying these simple tips, you can ease the stress of tax season and be a more effective accountant for your clients.