“Time is of the essence”. We hear that so many times. Today’s advent of technology has made us surrounded with time-saving devices – high speed computers, mobile phones, data transfers, instant messaging – you name it. But in a similar manner, we also have to manage the commodity of time efficiently when it comes to workplaces. The importance of Time Management is appreciated by the speed of modern accounting rules and the lives of CPA professionals. While you might feel there is never enough of it, below are some strategies you can use in order to efficiently manage time.
1. Time specificity for certain tasks: Frequent switching among the tasks of meeting with clients, preparing returns, and reviewing returns, is something that can be counterproductive. Blocking out a certain time (be it certain days or certain hours or both) can be a good idea in this situation. Doing so can greatly limit time wastage that happens through updating and restarting tasks one after another. Not to mention, you never lose focus and this makes you efficient.
2. Seasonal approach: CPA professionals can enlist seasons of times of the year when the work is the most gruelling (e.g. Tax filling Season). It is, therefore, most advisable that they prepare themselves with prerequisites beforehand so that the peak season can be efficiently managed with reduced workload and reduced stress. During the offseason, the CPA professionals can allot newer strategies to upcoming peak season or can just enhance their knowledge with updated laws and policies.
3. Stress free working environment: While stress is a component you cannot entirely eliminate, CPA leaders can try to reduce workloads by distributing among the workforce or other indirect techniques like game sessions, team bonding, team picnics, etc. Musical sessions and aesthetics of the office can also help try and reduce stress among employees. Reduced stress can greatly uplift the team spirit and the professionals can work with better motivation and efficiency.
4. Placing processes for every possible piece of work: Standardization or developing a process is a great way to eliminate miscommunication and time wastage. Such processes can better help to run the company in an organized manner. Creating an operations manual with detailed instructions for tasks that are administrative in nature can be a good example. Such processes can allow the respective individuals to perform tasks without consulting anyone else, thus greatly reducing miscommunication and saving time by cutting distractions.
5. Leveraging technology to manage workflow: Technologies like SalesForce can be used to the company’s advantage to better manage workflow in time critical work. Plug-ins of various kinds can be combined together to centralize information and avail in an instant. For example, whenever a client calls in, the workflow management software can pop up the client’s entire information for all those involved to see, including life cycle, previous and current projects, etc. Through automation, time in bookkeeping can be greatly saved.
6. Reduce paperwork and digitize documents: Accounting firms have to generate and maintain a large volume of paperwork data. While some of it is required to hold onto for compliance reasons, other paperwork can be eliminated altogether, and a large portion can be converted to a digital format. Integrating digital documents into the workflow can enhance flexibility and can reduce time spent in lookup for the said data. Risks through misfiling or misplacing important paperwork is also eliminated.
7. Back to the basics – Using a To-do list: While being the most basic and perhaps the most trivial thing, a To-do list is also the simplest way to keep track of things that are urgent in nature and require your immediate attention. Such lists can allow you to prepare a clear action plan going into the day’s work. While this method may not be as useful to the senior executives, as their work somewhat falls more into an unstructured category with unexpected problems with each day, it might still help them swiftly take care of the routine tasks.
8. Purge call/meeting times: Many times CPAs find themselves on calls or meetings that last more than necessary. It is essential that they only schedule calls or meetings that are of utmost importance and minimize the time invested in the said calls or meetings. They can also track call times and evaluate the average time spent on such things so that daily planner can be made to be more efficient.
Efficient time management can not only ensure minimal workload but also provide better client satisfaction through on-time deliverables and better service. This also means building better client relationships and building the business as a whole. Therefore, Time management should be of prime importance for CPA executives working towards a better future.
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Sanjeevani Jadhav is an avid reader & writer of practical knowledge, philosophy, thriller, as well as mystery. She loves to write, and has written blogs entailing those topics. She aspires to write and publish a book sometime in the near future.