10 time saving tips for busy accountants

Apr 29, 2014 | Accountants, Productivity

Hard to believe that the last time I shared any time saving tips on this blog was back in 2009.  I’ve taken the 3 tips I shared back then and added several more below, picking up on what accountants have told me, together with my own research and experiences:

  1. To stop wasting time deciding what to do next, try creating a prioritised ‘todo’ list. A = must do; B= should do; C= can wait (for now). You’ll also get a degree of satisfaction from crossing things off the list. You might prefer to find a suitable ‘to do’ app that allows you to do much the same thing on your smartphone.
  2. An extension of this concept and another ageless tip is to list, every evening, the top 3 things you must do the next day.
  3. To avoid spending longer doing things in a panic consider booking time out in your diary to do client work, preparatory work re meetings or other stuff, just as you would if meeting a client, prospect or contact. Sometimes this ‘meeting with self’ needs to be rescheduled to suit client commitments but at least it doesn’t get forgotten.
  4. You can also book time in your diary for regular activities such as bookkeeping, invoicing, personal development, replying to emails etc. If client work has to be done in a slot reserved for key activities, move them to another date – in the same week.
  5. Create a ‘Not todo list’. This would contain those things you want to avoid sidetracking you. These days there are more distractions to tempt us than ever before. Many accountants spend too much unscheduled time on twitter, facebook, linkedin, online forums or apps on their phones. I find it helps to set myself a time limit and an objective when I visit those sites.
  6. Personalise your email, text, twitter and facebook notification settings so that you are not constantly distracted by these. If something is that urgent you’ll get a call. You can set MS Outlook, for example, to only download new emails every hour, rather than immediately.
  7. If you are looking to grow your practice set up a simple strategic plan with month by month activities to ensure you make time to work ON building your practice beyond simply doing all the client work that needs doing. Then monitor and work that plan. (And reserve time in your diary to do this each month – see point 4 above!)
  8. Think about all those IT related tasks that take time and which may well be addressed by in-built facilities you have yet to master. Few of us know how to get maximum value and benefit from the most common and relevant features of our office and accounting software. Perhaps we struggle with spreadsheets, formatting, printing, document and presentation templates, design related tasks and so on? Make a note of those challenges that take time or which you find frustrating. Search online for ‘How to ….’ do whatever it is and take five minutes to find out and save loads of time going forwards.
  9. Consider delegating or outsouring work that can be done by less experienced people; you can probably earn more than it costs or relax in the time this frees up.
  10. I am regularly thanked for making this final time saving recommendation to accountants. Download shortkeys (for PCs) or typinator (for macs) to save you having to retype the same paras of text time after time. Both facilities provide a quasi permanent clipboard that you can access from any application with just a couple of key presses.

What timesaving tips work for you? I’d love to see some more examples here.

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