“If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.” – Lee Iacocca
Indeed, time is money, no matter what kind of business you do. Especially for accountants and CPA firm owners who need to deal with accounting data in large volumes, time management is essential.
During the busy tax season, they start to feel burdened with work, be it handling clients’ requests, preparing tax files, managing data, etc. In such situations, it is obvious for them to feel a bit stressed and lacking in time.
But it is also important to understand that everyone has the same twenty fours to live in a day. By following certain effective time management techniques, CPAs can ensure they have enough time to complete their tasks.
If you run a CPA firm, here are ten time management tips you should follow to achieve growth in your business –
1. Prioritize Your Work Effectively
Within your firm, the workload intensity can jump up at any point in time. This can be because of success in gaining more new clients, tax season, etc. As per your previous years’ experience, you must have realized at what time of a year your workload is at its peak.
One way to effectively manage all your work-related tasks is to start prioritizing your tasks before the peak work-season arrives. You need to make a list of urgent tasks that require your immediate attention.
Separate them from those which can be completed later. By having your work priorities aligned in advance, you will know what exactly you should do in a specific day.
2. Be Flexible in Your Work-Timings
When you are running a CPA firm, you may need to work beyond your regular working hours sometimes because of some urgent tasks that need to be done. Being extremely strict in your working hours may make you lose some clients.
So, it is important that you practice a flexible work culture in your office. At the start of every day in the office, you should assess your workload and set deadlines to complete it on time. Even if it asks for some more time, you should be able to adjust your plan accordingly. By doing this, you will feel less overwhelmed by the growing workload that you need to handle.
3. Learn to Say ‘No’
In the work-life of a CPA, it often happens that he/she gets more work than expected. The worst part – all of it must be done on priority. Since every individual can maximally work at a certain capacity only, it is best to know your limit. As a CPA firm owner, you should know when to say ‘No’ to your clients and avoid receiving extra workload that you can’t handle.
On the other hand, this also calls for expanding your team of professional accountants to plan further growth of your firm. Similarly, if certain tasks can be given least priority, set them aside to be done later.
4. Set Clients’ Expectations Realistically
In your CPA firm, you must have dealt with several different types of clients. Some of them are easy to handle, while others seek your cooperation all the time, day or night. In some cases, accountants raise their client’s expectations so high that it becomes difficult for them to work and manage stress.
As a word of caution, you are advised to let your clients expect realistic results from your services. Let them know what kind of services you can offer and what you can’t. Also, inform them about certain delays at work which may happen during the peak season.
When you know your clients are not expecting an unrealistic output from your services, you can work with minimum stress and maximum productivity. This will help you and your team manage the workload effectively.
5. Help Your Team Members Hone Their Skills
With time, it is also important that all the accountants you have hired in your CPA firm get to learn more and work even better. Being the owner of your firm, it is your responsibility to assign your team members certain tasks other than what they usually handle at work.
The more they get to learn something new and implement it in their work-life, the more productive your team will become and manage time better.
6. Reduce Paperwork by Using Digital Data Formats
If your accounting firm is still relying upon maintaining logs and registers physically, you might have felt handling large volumes of paperwork becomes a tedious task. Technology has evolved greatly in that aspect, and you can easily save your business-related paperwork in digital formats in the computer systems.
In the start, you and your team may feel little difficulty in making the required transition to digital documents as much as possible. But with time, it will add more flexibility at work. Finding a client’s data saved as a digital document is much easier than finding it in a file cabinet with hundreds of similar other files in it. Along with saving your precious time, it will also minimize the risk of losing important paperwork, if misplaced.
7. Utilize Cloud Computing
Cloud technology is a buzz word across the globe amongst CPAs. With the help of cloud, they can access the accounting applications and data anywhere and anytime, which improves their work productivity.
Let’s say you use the desktop version of QuickBooks Enterprise at work. For that, you also need the required in-house IT infrastructure and maintenance professionals. As a better alternative, you can opt for QuickBooks Enterprise cloud hosting and improve your firm’s overall productivity. Not just that, you will get privileges of data security, automated data backup and 24/7 IT support by switching to the cloud.
Cloud computing also helps in better collaboration between your employees as they can view and edit the files on a unified platform.
8. Set Intermittent Goals Every Day
Goals have the power to push us to work in the best way possible. So, it is important that you make short-term intermittent goals every day for yourself and your team. For instance, set a goal that you want to analyze the accounting data of specific clients by the end of the day.
Write it on a piece of paper and make sure it is visible to your eyes all day so that you do not forget it. Similarly, create goals for your team members or advise them that they should create their own.
Setting goals will keep you, and your team more focused at work, which will ultimately help in managing time efficiently.
9. Take Short Breaks in Between
At an accounting firm, the regular work routine can become taxing sometimes. It often happens that accountants get so much involved in dealing with complicated tasks that they end up investing more time than they should. To relax the mind, taking small breaks in between work-time is important. It keeps you active and makes you ready to tackle work-related tasks at a higher efficiency.
In the break-time, you can have a discussion with your colleagues about personal life over a cup of coffee. Otherwise, you can simply go out for a 5-minute walk around the office block.
10. Reward Yourself and Your Team for the Work Done
Continuing to do the same work creates a monotonous feel in our minds, which can affect work productivity. One of the best solutions to beat this monotony is to offer rewards. Most importantly, when employees are recognized, they stick around for longer tenure, says Forbes.
After the busy season ends or after your accounting firm has achieved a certain target, give rewards to all your employees for their contribution. This will help them stay motivated to work even better in the time ahead.
For yourself, you can plan a vacation with your family, go for a fun activity with friends or gift yourself something you need.
As the old saying goes, ‘Time is Money.’ For accounting professionals, it is good to be busy at work. But it is also important that they are not underproductive. To continue to earn more money through your CPA firm and succeed, you can win in the long run by applying these time management tips. This way, you can enjoy the best of both worlds – a rewarding business and a good life.
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