Effectively managing time, whether through one of the many specialized time management software programs or typical computer-based calendars, determines how efficiently you can perform. And beyond the system you use, there are many strategies and tactics to manage time. One, known as AAPP-ing, or auditing, automating, prioritizing, and preparing, may be particularly useful for accountants.
The first step is to audit what you are doing and when you are doing it. Specialized software can run in the background of a computer during the workweek to track where you spend your time. A simple review of the past few weeks or months can be eye-opening and help you eliminate inefficiencies.
Look at every task you do during each month or quarter. You’ll likely do these same types of tasks for clients over and over again for years. See what tasks can be automated, and invest the time and effort to automate them. You’ll gain time efficiencies and be able to work on more important tasks.
Take some time each morning to prioritize your accounting tasks for clients. Look for to-do items that require you to reach out to clients or other professionals for data or information you need to complete your tasks. Since these items, by their very nature, make you wait for a response, you should be prioritizing them to get them out of your hands first. Get those tasks done before moving on to things that only require your own time to complete. This actually saves you time in the long run.
Accountants are unique in that they have a predetermined "busy season" each year right before tax time. Always prepare for this ahead of time by doing things such as updating your software, clearing your calendar and outstanding low-priority tasks, getting necessary training, and even taking some well-deserved vacation days. You know the busy season is coming, so do what’s necessary to prepare for it.
Accountants need time management skills just as much, if not more, than other professionals. While many techniques exist, AAPP-ing is relatively simple to implement and can have great results.