It takes almost a half hour to refocus on your work after being distracted. (That’s the same amount of time it takes to watch an episode of The Office with peacock promos included!)
It’s one thing to say you’ll be better at managing your time, and a whole other thing to actually do it. Change is really hard, especially when it comes to your daily schedule and your own workload as the owner of your own business.
That’s right; you’re finally calling the shots in your own career. But why does it sometimes feel like you’re back to being chained to your desk from 9 to 5 (or more) and dreading opening your business email every day? Chances are you need better time management procedures in place and a system in which you can filter which tasks you need to complete as the firm owner.
The Importance of Time Management Strategies for Growing Your Accounting Firm and Why It Matters
Your team can only be as good as the work you assign them and the environment in which you provide them to do their work. Ensuring they have the right tools, processes, and team members in place should be your highest priority. Of course, it’s much easier said than done.
What Is Time Management?
In a perfect world, we would all work on exactly the right work for our strengths and needs at the exact right point in time. Time management is the system of processes and procedures by which you get as closely to that perfect world as possible.
The best ways to improve your time management skills include:
- Plan ahead as much as possible and plan for delays and missing details.
- Create a filter for the work you do as an accounting firm owner and when, so your team can support that workload to the best of their ability.
- Ruthlessly reinforce these habits in your daily work and schedules.
- Be consistent with how you plan, do, and reflect to compound the interest earned with good time management habits.
Creating a Work Environment for Workflow Excellence
As a business owner and leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your team members are also each working on the best tasks for their skill sets at the correct time for maximized effectiveness. You need to set the tone with your team members by sticking to your time management procedures and creating boundaries to focus on the right work. When it comes to workflow effectiveness in your own business, only you set the tone and should lead by example.
Effective Time Management: 12 Strategies for Saving Time and Doing Better Work
It’s your responsibility to your firm to safeguard your time and focus only on the tasks you can do. If the firm owner is still designing social media graphics or crunching numbers on the calculator, you’ll stifle growth and realize your goals at a much slower pace than your potential.
Here are 12 simple and effective time management strategies to implement in your workday right now:
Strategy #1: Shift your mindset from to-do lists to goals.
How’s your post-it method treating you? If your desk looks anything like ours, know you’re not alone. To-do lists are helpful when they feed into larger to-do lists and goals. Busy work isn’t something a CEO of a CPA Firm should be bothered with, and neither should you.
Strategy #2: Take the time each week to plan your goals and most important tasks.
Look ahead each week at key meetings and open time slots of working on some content for your own marketing or prospecting new clients. You should have quarterly and monthly goals you can drill-down into weekly and daily tasks to achieve.
Strategy #3: Block time on your calendar for deep work.
Once you understand your workload, time blocking your calendar can help you mentally prepare for each important task or conference call, as well as build in time for work on your biggest goals, like growing your firm or offering a new product or service.
Strategy #4: Unplug from distractions while working.
There are a number of apps and Chrome extensions you can download to block notifications (err, distractions) from your computer or smart device while working. You can also pause notifications with Do Not Disturb status settings on most work IM tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams.
Strategy #5: Reflect on your achievements regularly.
At the end of each week it’s particularly important to reflect and celebrate your achievements when implementing a new change in your schedule and work planning. Reflect on what you need to improve, but pay close attention to the wins. (You may find inspiration for a social media post from your team’s work!)
Strategy #6: Write goals down.
As silly as it sounds, writing your goals down on a piece of paper can lead to you being 42 percent more likely to achieve them. So, write those big goals (not tiny to-do’s) down on a post-it where you will see it regularly while working. Keep it in plain sight, and check those goals off your list each passing week.
Strategy #7: Delegate tasks with lower impact to the business.
It’s easy to be frustrated when an employee doesn’t do a task correctly -- or exactly as you would have done it. Fight the urge to do it yourself. Talk through the work and coach your team to be able to take some of the work off your plate.
And be sure to thank and recognize team members for their contributions. 8 in 10 workers are more motivated to work harder when they receive recognition, according to a Leadr study.
Strategy #8: Use a project management system to manage workflows effectively.
Productivity is important to any manager, whether or not you’re also the firm owner. Utilizing a workflow software can give you valuable data to understand what your team is spending their time on and what it takes to get your firm’s total work product done. Jetpack Workflow’s new Done Report allows you to see all of this data at a glance any time, not just when you have 1:1 meeting with your staff.
Strategy #9: Enforce a communication procedure with your team for maximum efficiency.
By having easily-accessible and collaborative work tools, you can spend less time on status updates and frantic Slack messages, and more time adjusting your business against itself on key metrics. Establishing where to go for certain answers to common questions, as well as a robust firm management system, you can make a strong first step in reducing distractions during your own workday.
Strategy #10: Set a timer to track your time working on important tasks.
Use a time tracker within a project management system or a simple timer with your favorite home smart device. (oh hi Siri and Alexa). This will help you understand how long it takes you to complete certain work, as well as plan your work days more efficiently upfront.
Strategy #11: Pad your timelines.
The only thing certain in life is change. So be sure to pad your timelines for unsurprising impacts to workflows (PTO, sick time, writer’s block, bad weather, etc.). Be sure to cascade that into your team’s work time as well and do your best not to overwhelm them.
Strategy #12: Reinforce and reward your team members.
When you invest time and resources into your team members, you reap the rewards of people doing excellent work for you. For every dollar invested in employees, business owners can earn back three times their investment. So, send them to a (virtual for now) conference, buy them branded swag, and create an enjoyable and productive workplace.
Final Thoughts: An Overview of Time Management Strategies
It’s a constant chess match when it comes to organizing your schedule and assigning work to yourself. As a leader, it’s important to protect your time and prioritize the work only you can do as the head of your own accounting firm. You’re setting your firm up for success when you begin delegating lower value tasks to team members and automating recurring tasks for clients and your own schedule.
Remember these quick tips for fool-proof time management:
- Dedicate more time to tasks than you expect. Building in a buffer and making room for creativity can only work to your advantage.
- Prioritize your most important tasks for each week and day. A collection of many small achievements moves much faster than one big, prolonged objective.
- Automate tasks that don’t add value. Open it up to your team and watch their productivity soar.
Time Management Strategies Made Easier with a Firm Management Software
You have more than enough tasks in a day to keep you busy. And that includes the need to set time aside for planning! By automating your firm management with a workflow software, you can focus on the most impactful tasks to grow your business.
Download 32 free workflow templates to save time spent on creating processes for your firm. With more time in your day, you can get back to the tasks that demand your time and attention most.