It’s the thing we all want most: time. During the busy season, we can’t have enough of it, and as the season wraps up, we begin having to catch up on all our work that was put aside for our clients’ tax returns.
According to research, interruptions can take more than 20 minutes to get back on task. Therefore, accounting firms need a strategic approach to enhance productivity. This article highlights five time management strategies for accounting firms that can help boost productivity.
One of the best strategies is going paperless and putting everything in one place. This can help save time when all the files are at your fingertips, and you can easily pull them up to answer clients' questions immediately. Additionally, blocking out time for specific tasks and putting everything on your calendar is crucial. This can help plan in granular detail, and you can set realistic expectations with your clients. Setting priorities for the week and for each day can help ensure nothing important slips through the cracks in the chaos of the busy season.
It's also important to set boundaries for yourself. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that even spending less time doing work can be more productive if you’re in a better headspace. By extension, the work you produce is at a higher quality because you’re not overwhelmed with too many competing thoughts. Set specific hours for work, and stick to those hours as much as possible. When you're not working, ensure you're fully present with your family, friends, and hobbies. This will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance and avoid burnout.
I’m not suggesting you limit work, but instead, build a structured schedule that allows you to find the right balance that meets your life’s needs. You shouldn’t find yourself burning the candle at both ends. Creating a balanced schedule means having dedicated time for work while also finding moments during the day to reset your mind and avoid overworking yourself.
Another strategy you can take advantage of is monitoring your phone and email use. While both are important for communication, they can also become distractions. You can establish specific times of the day when you'll respond to emails and return phone calls. By turning off notifications on your phone and keeping it out of sight, you can minimize interruptions.
Get the most out of technology
Leveraging technology is another effective time management strategy. You can use scheduling apps that let clients, prospects, and colleagues self-schedule appointments. Video conferencing services such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet can help eliminate travel time. By using the screen share feature, you can look at the same document at the same time. Automating administrative tasks can also save time. Apps such as Zapier can help connect different pieces of software that don't have native integrations with "zaps" to create automated workflows.
When it comes to having automation set up for your firm, it’s important to do so before the busy season. As tax season rolls around, your time is divided into other, more immediate tasks. Setting up and then learning how to manage a new automation tool won’t be nearly as effective when you’re in the middle of juggling multiple tasks.
Map out your day
Planning your hardest work for your most productive part of the day is also essential. You can figure out what kind of person you are, and schedule tasks that take the most cognitive energy for those times. This can help make the most of those ultra-productive parts of your day by minimizing interruptions. Scheduling downtime is also crucial since overworking yourself can lead to burnout and exhaustion. Taking regular breaks and getting enough sleep can help keep your brain in tip-top condition.
Schedule time for your physical health
Sometimes, it feels like it’s almost impossible to step away from work during tax season. But regardless of what time it is during the year, you need to find time for yourself to allow your brain to have some respite from the hectic nature of our industry. Overworking yourself is going to lead to stress, burnout, and exhaustion. Take a walk, even if it’s for five minutes. Research shows that walks during the workday improve engagement at work and overall well-being. And it shouldn’t stop there.
The goal here is to avoid breaking the chain. Even if you don’t feel as though you have the time to take a walk, or participate in some other form of exercise, even a few minutes can help ensure you’re consistent with the right habits, and prioritizing your overall health which can improve your ability to work. Five minutes is all it takes to keep the chain going.
How can Taxfyle help?
Have you ever wanted some room to breathe during tax season, but struggle with plowing through the increasing work? Are you having issues finding the right staff for your firm to help during tax season, and worry you won’t have enough work for them once the season ends? We can help.
Taxfyle lets firms like yours plug into our domestic network of CPAs and EAs granting access to a little extra help during tax season. Our Tax Professionals are licensed, experienced accountants who are capable of acting as an extension of your firm. The best part is, you don’t need to train them. We match Pros to your firms based on the work you send them and your tax software of choice.
Why let tax season be a busy season? Like we said before, the best time to implement new practices for your firm is when you have the time and energy to devote. When it comes to augmenting your firm’s workflow, between busy seasons is the best time to get our alternative staffing service set up so that you and your firm are ready to hit the ground running once the busy seasons roll around.