For accountants, tax or auditing season can make tasks mount quickly, and leave little room for everything to get done. You may feel overwhelmed at the sheer volume of files you have to go through – all while staying in adherence to budget.
There are ways you can stay the course, while also prioritizing what’s most important. Here are some time management tips on how to do just that for accountants:
#1: Make “To-do” and “Already done” Lists
Every tip article ever created has a “to-do” list requirement for ultra time management, but the real productivity train comes when you can also have a list of what you’ve accomplished, too! Don’t sell yourself short. It’s no secret you’re inundated with incoming information and requests all day with general ledger and accounts payable/receivables.
At the beginning of every work day, set a list for yourself (preferably no more than 3-5 overarching tasks) that you HAVE to get accomplished that day. Then, as you complete them, either cross them out or keep a running log on a notes app or a piece of notebook paper.
Doing this means there’ll never be a question of what’s more important, and you can set aside things that don’t scream ‘urgent.’
#2: Take Breaks
While working through lunch may sound like a great and productive idea, research suggests otherwise. You’ve probably heard of the rule of 52 and 17, which means you work with 100% dedication on full blast to get things done for 52 minutes, and for 17 minutes you completely back away from work. No work emails or glancing while you eat. Zero. Nada.
Studies show the most productive people (yeah, those rockstars who crank out an unbelievable amount) work this way. There are many benefits to giving yourself a break, but probably the greatest one of all is improving productivity. Check Facebook; take a walk; have some coffee. These are all ways you can disconnect and give your brain a soft reset before plopping back down for the next round.
We weren’t meant to sit for 8 hours straight and concentrate fully; it’s just not practical cognitive function. So as an accountant, it will serve you well to put that invoice down and come back to it, especially since much of your day can be spent on repetitive, mundane tasks, which can set off cognitive boredom.
Even if the day’s crazy, try 5 minutes after every hour to take a walk around the office – you’ll find it can do some great things for your health.
#3: Give Yourself Office Hours
If you don’t have your own “office,” per se, setting these may seem odd, but it can do wonders for productivity! Imagine being able to work, uninterrupted, for most of the day. With set office hours, you can find a sustainable stopping point before speaking with coworkers (unless absolutely necessary). Include emails and phone calls with this, as well – keep in mind they don’t have to be the same time, but siphoning when you check can give your mind more flow time to plug through your tasks quicker.
This can help ease the seeming lack of control in a workday. Although not viable for every accountant, do your best to belay the flood of people to your desk until a set time you’re comfortable with addressing. Even minimizing it can help your productivity dramatically because you won’t have to switch between tasks (as this is where you can lose valuable time to get things done).
Feel free to put your hours on your calendar, and send an internal message to your team to do their best to follow through with it, with the exception of emergencies.
#4: Look Into Automation Technology
Many accountants don’t realize what technology is available to them to improve processes and automate many trivial, time-consuming tasks (and thus, save time!). With a proper document management system, you can enlist advanced workflow automation to ping necessary workers for approvals and requests.
Imagine a business framework of workflows for everything in accounting – from there, you can flesh out who’s responsible for accepting what paperwork, including quarterly budgets, KPI reports, AP ledgers, and more. Time management and document management go together like peas in a pod, you see.
There are also Bots that exist for the sole purpose of increased efficiency and digital document management storage. Technology’s come a long way for automation within the last 10 years, and many accountants are getting ahead of the game and saying goodbye to menial, repetitive tasks.
#5: Delegate Work
There’s a lot to be said about spreading the overall workload fairly between a team, and accounting’s no exception to this rule. If you’re a manager, delegating some administrative data entry to another team member allows you to focus on the higher-level tasks at hand that require your attention. It also makes time management more feasible for you.
This isn’t easy to accomplish overnight, however – so try to map out everyone’s responsibilities and see if there are any ways to shift priorities around (added technology can be especially beneficial here). Don’t be afraid to bring this to your superior’s attention to make necessary adjustments. It’s all about having the right KPIs and projections at your fingertips.
Time Management Magic
Time management is surely a unique formula that works differently for every person, but there are some prominent commonalities that exist to help you and your team along in accounting.
To dive in and learn more about how technology can help your time management, please check out our Robotic Accounting Automation software!