When you run your own accounting firm, you often walk a thin line between putting in the hours you need to succeed and becoming a workaholic. Working nonstop seems like the fast way to success, but crossing the line into workaholic territory can take a toll on your health and the efficiency of your business. Luckily, you can take easy, practical steps to start working smarter instead of harder or longer, which can boost your productivity while reducing your work time.
Warning Signs for Workaholics
Being a workaholic is more common in certain professional arenas, including the financial industry. Workaholic habits can appear as attractive traits to naturally driven, competitive people. Excellent accountants often place great importance on focusing diligently and perfectly completing each task. While these perfectionist traits help you achieve success, they can sometime cause issues, especially if you end up devoting too much time and energy to work and become overly attached to only work-related aspects of your life.
So how do you know when you cross the line into workaholic territory? It often comes down to mental effects, such as anxiety or depression, and physical symptoms, including insomnia, physical exhaustion, or malnutrition. Strained interpersonal relationships, either at or away from work, often result from overworking. If you start to feel like work is becoming increasingly difficult even though you work longer and harder, it may be time to step back and decide if your increased workload comes at the expense of a healthy personal life.
As an accountant, you audit your clients’ books all the time. But have you taken the time to audit your own work habits? Monitoring yourself for the warning signs of becoming a workaholic can help focus on improving your work-life balance before it gets out of control. Keep an eye on how invested you are in your work, and observe how your work routine affects your emotional state and personal life. It’s good to be concerned about the quality of your accounting work, but it’s not healthy to worry over small, insignificant mistakes to the point where it interferes with a good night’s sleep.
Many entrepreneurs boast about their ability to multitask, wearing it as a badge of honor or proof that they’re successful. But spreading yourself between multiple tasks at once often becomes a barrier to working productively. This could result in producing sub-par work all in the name of getting more done. Multitasking can lead to a situation where you ultimately end up piling an excessive amount of work onto your plate, while failing to complete any one task fully and efficiently. Being both a workaholic and a perfectionist sometimes leads to exhaustion, and that makes it difficult to effectively accomplish any of the tasks you really need to finish.
Instead, you may want to skip multitasking in favour of focusing on just one task at a time. You can focus your full attention on that one task, so you know it is done well. You may find that you end up getting more done in a day when you complete one task at a time from start to finish. Try looking at your daily work habits and identify multitasking that slows you down or results in work that may not be your best.
Schedule Rest Periods During the Day
Taking regular breaks throughout your workday is an important step in avoiding work overload, and rests can actually increase your overall productivity. If necessary, include scheduled breaks on your daily to-do list so you don’t forget to take them. A break is your chance to relax, stretch, chat with a friend, or enjoy some alone time. Instead of viewing breaks as neglecting work, try re-framing them as a chance to recharge your batteries and reset your mind. This helps you have the necessary energy to remain productive throughout the day.
Use To-Do Lists to Prioritize
Using to-do lists is a good habit to help increase your productivity. When you have a list in hand, you can focus on important tasks and avoid getting bogged down by menial or unimportant details. A to-do list helps you identify and focus on work priorities, provides positive feelings of accomplishment, and can also establish a reasonable end point for your workday. It’s often easier to include just a few important tasks on your daily to-do list so you don’t get overwhelmed. As you complete those most important tasks, you can add other work to your to-do list.
You can significantly improve your productivity as a professional accountant by learning to work smarter and more efficiently. This helps you avoid the dangers of becoming a workaholic. By using tools such as QuickBooks in your practice, you can improve your efficiency, which can make it possible to cut back on how much you work. QuickBooks Online Accountant offers powerful tools for accounting professionals. Sign up for free.