There’s a big difference between always being busy and always being productive. As an accounting professional, you can sometimes feel as if there are not enough hours in the day, particularly during tax season.
If you are struggling with deadlines, getting overloaded and really feeling the pressure, chances are your time management skills are due an overhaul.
Below, we’ve listed five of the most effective strategies for getting the most out of your day.
1. Prioritise (do the tricky bits first)
It is human nature to want to avoid doing the jobs we know are going to be unpleasant, no matter how crucial they might be. Sadly, those tasks don’t just go away because we wish they would.
Staring at a daunting to-do list can lead to procrastination, causing us to complete the least important duties simply because they are the easiest.
Try and avoid falling into that trap by prioritising the essential—list the most urgent aspects, break large tasks down into manageable steps and dedicate yourself to finishing them at the start of your workday, when your energy levels are at their highest. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can get through them.
2. Delegate (no one likes a control freak)
Your workload is going to have its peaks and troughs. At its most intense, it just might not be possible for you to do absolutely everything yourself and you are going to have to relinquish a bit of control.
Handing off tasks to your team members not only relieves some of your own pressure, but it is also great for your staff—getting them out of their comfort zone and testing their abilities. That way, it shows you are dedicated to their continued professional development, and it might also mean you get home before midnight.
One-man-band? Consider hiring a VA to handle the simpler but time-consuming administrative parts of the job. And it applies to your personal life too. Getting a cleaner to look after your home during the busiest parts of the season can be a godsend.
3. Use a Calendar (because the calendar is king)
Nothing focuses effort quite like a calendar. At a glance, you can know exactly where you should be and what you should be doing at any given time.
It is also a vital tool for the whole office, telling employees your schedule and letting them know when the best time to schedule meetings is.
By using a cloud-based calendar, you can have access wherever you are; whether at home, in the office or out and about via your phone. Setting pop-up notifications to remind you of specific assignments helps to concentrate your mind on the task at hand.
4. Think Ahead (end your day right)
Chances are you already start your workday by creating a to-do list. However, switching things up and dedicating yourself to writing up tomorrow’s list the night before has a whole host of benefits you might not be aware of.
Firstly, all the things you need to get done are still fresh in your mind; you haven’t had a stressful commute back and forth and a full night’s sleep to forget them yet.
Secondly, it acts as a psychological ‘drawing a line’ under your day. We are all sometimes guilty of taking work home with us, even if it’s just mentally. Writing up a list of jobs for the following day helps to flip the switch between work mode and feet-up-on-the-sofa-with-a-glass-of-wine mode.
And thirdly, it means you arrive at the office fully prepared to dive straight into your work, without having to rack your still awakening brain for the most important tasks to get started on.
5. Look After Yourself (you are your own best asset)
A stressed accountant is one more likely to make mistakes. And accountants who make mistakes generally don’t remain accountants very long.
While taking time off might seem to run counter to the idea of achieving peak productivity, the truth is, giving yourself permission to relax and step away from the office is vital to your continued success.
Of course, there will be times when it just isn’t possible to take a break. There aren’t many accountants on the golf course during tax season. But those are the times when you should be planning a reward for yourself once the crazy workloads have quietened down a bit. Book yourself a holiday, a long weekend away or even just a week off to spend in the garden.
Look after your physical and mental health and come back refreshed and ready to do battle again.
If you are interested in discussing any Accounting & Finance roles available or have any hiring requirements, please contact your nearest Cobalt office.
You may also be interested in: