We're hearing from many of you that it's pretty busy out there (to say the least)! So here are some quick hits that might help you. Pick 2 or 3 that make sense for you and see if you can save half an hour a day. Let us know on this thread which ones you're going to adopt - and please add more of your own:
- Success not perfection: the client does not care if something is out by $3.82. And nor should you. As accountants we are often hamstrung by the desire for everything to be perfect. Your goal should be to get a result for the client as quickly as you can. That's a win / win.
- Eliminate distractions: turn off email notifications. Put your phone in the drawer when you are concentrating on something. It's OK to reply to email or return calls two or three times a day. Deal with things in batches.
- Block out immovable time: if you need to get something done, put a specific time to do it on your calendar. For many of us, to-do lists don't work because they just get longer and longer and things get buried.
- It's OK to be 'with someone': if a client calls but you are in the middle of an immovable block of time, have your team answer the call by saying, "John / Mary is with someone right now; is there any way I can help in the meantime?" It's perfectly fine to be 'with' yourself. In fact, that's often the ONLY way you'll regain some sanity during busy periods!
- Use physical signs to show your team you are having quiet time: I worked in an accounting firm years ago where we were all provided with red baseball caps. We were in an open-plan office environment. When we needed quiet time we were encouraged to wear the cap. Looked stupid, but you could see people start to walk toward you then see the cap, turn round and often figure out the answer themselves. If you don't like the cap idea, find something else but make it visible.
- Set self-imposed deadlines: just because most things are due on the 15th of the month doesn't mean that should be your deadline. What will you target to have done by the 5th, the 8th or the 12th? And how will you ensure the team knows...and how you're progressing toward those goals?
- #Nomentum: critically important! Sounds stupid, but set a goal to say no a certain number of times each day. "No" will set you free.
- No homework: don't let your team leave problems with you to solve. I remember a partner telling me when I was a very young accountant, "Bring me solutions, not problems". He refused to waste his time dealing with questions if you did not have a proposed solution. He treated his time as sacrosanct, as should we all.