What can you do if you’re working too hard? Here are ten practical tips

Jun 6, 2023 | Client service, Productivity, Sole practitioners

These days many accountants feel as if they are working harder than ever just to stand still. And that feeling seems worse if they are looking to actively grow their practice.

The pressures and stresses of modern life are partly a function of newer forms of communication.

Thirty years ago clients either wrote letters or, when they needed urgent help, they would telephone the office.

More recently email is frequently identified as the bane of modern professional life. It needs to be managed carefully to reduce that sense of overwhelm. And accountants need to determine their willingness, or otherwise, to respond to clients who start communicating via other services including, for example any or all of the following: Mobile phone calls, Text (SMS), WhatsApp, Facebook messenger and Linkedin Direct messages.

It is typically older accountants who approach me with feelings of overwhelm. Often it becomes clear to me that this feeling follows, at least in part, because they are working too hard. And, if that’s how they feel, then it’s true. Perception is reality.

In this blog post I am sharing ten headline tips to help reduce that sense of overwhelm, that you’re working too hard. You may not be able to take all these tips on board, but do please reach out and let’s have a chat if you’d like to discuss how you might take action as regards any of these tips:

1 – Delegate: One of the most common causes I see of accountants who are overworking is when they are trying to do everything on their own. There are many time consuming and/or repetitive tasks that you can outsource or delegate.

2 – Clarify your NUBI tasks: These are the ‘Non-Urgent But Important’ (NUBI) tasks that you keep putting them off, so they hang over you, while you fire-fight dealing with what seems to be Urgent stuff. Schedule time for your NUBI tasks and treat that time as sacrosanct.

3 – Set realistic goals: Stop pushing yourself to do more than is reasonable and realistic. Break down larger goals into smaller achievable steps and set targets to start and to complete each step.

4 – Identify your 4T: Each evening before you leave your office/desk take a few minutes to decide on Tomorrow’s Top Three Tasks (TTTT) and how much time you need to allow to get each of them done. Book the time in your diary and treat it as you would if it was a meeting with a client or a doctor.

5 – Practice saying “No”: You have the right to decide what you have the time and energy to do for clients and colleagues. The more you practice – and offer reasonable alternatives where you can – the easier it becomes. Stop overcommitting yourself, risking sub-par performance and creating your own stress and frustrations.

6 – Take breaks: Set your watch, phone or computer to prompt you to get up for a short break ever hour. Or adopt the pomodoro technique of only allocating projects to 25 minutes in each half-hour. Taking short breaks throughout the day will help you stay focused and productive.

7 – Systemise: Set aside some time every few days to note down all the stages and elements involved in each of your recurring work projects. The next time you do each one, add to the list any further steps that crop up. Within weeks your systemised lists should help you to identify tech and apps you already have that could reduce your workload. Or, this project may nudge you to find tech that will reduce the time you have to spend on repetitive and/or admin tasks.

8 – Sack your worst clients: ‘Worst’ here means those that take a disproportionate amount of time to service and to keep happy. They are also the ones who make your heart sink when they get in touch. In my experience accountants invariably feel a huge sense of relief when they know they no longer need to deal with such clients.

9 – Keep track: Use manual lists or online services to keep track of everything that needs to be done for your clients and for your practice, of deadlines and appointments.

10 – Be Tidier: Two common causes of stress and a sense of overwhelm for accountants are messy desks/offices coupled with the challenge of remembering where things are.  I can personally confirm that I feel less stressed when my desk is tidy – which is not as often as I would like!

And please, if you’d like someone to help you do any of this – with caring supportive guidance and insights, just book a call and we can have a chat, without any obligation >>>

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