At this week’s meeting of The Inner Circle for Accountants our headline discussion topic was: “Time management in a busy accountant’s practice and prioritising what needs to be done by you.”
Members had identified this as a key issue they shared. It was also one of the most common concerns expressed in a recent survey I ran of accountants who want to feel more successful.
At the start of our meeting I shared some background thoughts and questions to stimulate the discussion and ideas around the table. My questions included:
- Why is time management an issue for you?
- What gets in the way of you doing as you have planned? and
- What do you put off doing and why?
Inevitably some of the responses and subsequent realisations might seem obvious – certainly with the benefit of hindsight.
For example, accountants rarely need to make time for billable client work. Indeed the opportunity to serve clients (and get paid for doing so) is typically what gets in the way of office admin, marketing and planning to work ON the practice itself.
After we considered the Four Time Management Quadrants, one member noted he could now see that he was never making time for important activities unless or until they became urgent. And planning to upgrade his website rarely reached that stage. Even though he wanted to get this done, he never felt any need to prioritise the related work and to allocate time to the project.
Another realisation was that members focus on client work as it invariably has an ‘end point’. Strategic work to build and develop the practice seems to be an ongoing activity. If you start it when will you know you’ve done enough?
Among the specific techniques we discussed to overcome these and other challenges were:
- Breaking big tasks down and identifying what specifically needs to be done first;
- Diverting your calls or setting up a phone answering service to take calls during fixed parts of the day when you don’t want to be disturbed;
- Discussing issues that are dragging on during our monthly calls – two members related stories of how they had been putting off doing things they thought they wanted to do. When we talked through what they wanted and how they could move the actions forwards they were able to unblock their reluctance to take action;
- Committing to a third party (eg: partner, friend, service provider, coach or mentor) actions you will take so that they can hold you to account;
- The use of meeting and call scheduling apps.
All members will receive a one page summary of the key learning points they identified at the end of the meeting, together with links to related reading topics, support services and apps.* This will include a link to a list on this blog of 15 top tips to avoid procrastination.
*The growing library of post meeting notes are also available to new members when they join The Inner Circle. Take a look and if you think it might help you, feel free to schedule a call with me here>>>