Life as an accountant can be hectic, with deadlines scattered throughout the year and clients calling around the clock. However, it’s also an incredibly rewarding career choice, with the chance to help entrepreneurs and small business owners get their financials in order and strive for new profit growth.
While being a great accountant takes an affinity for numbers and a passion for finance, it also requires someone who has good communication skills and excellent time management. Here are five time management tips for accountants.
1 Plan and prioritise from the start
The workload of an accountant can quickly multiply, especially during peak season with end of financial year deadlines. As each year passes, you’ll be able to predict what times of the year your workload will increase, and when you’re more likely to have spare time in your schedule. Before the busy season hits, start to plan and prioritise your long-term tasks and projects – know what’s urgent and what can be set aside for a later date. Make a to-do list when you’re having your morning coffee, so you know exactly what needs to be done each day.
2 Learn how to be flexible
As much as you can plan and prioritise, you never know what work is going to come across your desk each day. Learning to be flexible will help you quickly rearrange your tasks or re-prioritise when new work comes in. Each day, you can assess your workload and your deadlines and adjust your plan accordingly. Knowing that your plan isn’t locked in place, but can change as needed, will help you from feeling overwhelmed by a growing workload.
3 Know when to say no
In the same token, every person has limits and there are only so many hours in a day. If you’re at capacity, you may need to practice saying no, or at least, not now. Before peak season, determine what work you can set aside for the moment and what is non-negotiable. Delegate wherever you can and learn how to prioritise the remaining work. If you can’t take on any new work or clients, it may be time to communicate that to your boss, or look at expanding your practice and hiring a new staff member.
4 Manage client expectations
Learn how to manage your client’s expectations in order to minimise your stress levels during busy work periods. Let your clients know ahead of time, what months of the year are extremely busy for you and your practice, and the delays or extra lead time they can expect. Train your clients to book their appointments in advance, so you and your team can better manage your upcoming workload. Knowing that your clients aren’t expecting an unrealistic turnaround or calling constantly for an update on their project, will help minimise your stress and maximise your time.
5 Use automation
Automation can save you serious time. If you and your firm is struggling with time management, it may be the perfect opportunity to sit down and discuss what processes or tasks you could automate with technology. These days, automation comes in a variety of forms and can help you streamline and operate more efficiently. You could look into payroll, invoice and payment automation, expense automation, email automation and more. By utilising technology, you could save your firm serious time and money.