From IFRS standards and portfolio management to audits and fixed assets, workers in the finance and accounting industry have some pretty hectic schedules. From an economic standpoint, the industry is thriving; but for employees in the field, that means optimally managing your time while still producing high-quality work. Whether you’re a financial analyst, CPA, payroll specialist, or CFO, ignoring time management issues can have costly consequences – impacting revenue, productivity levels, and causing burnout.
Here are 5 time management tips for finance and accounting professionals that will help you expertly tackle your workload.
Block off Time on Your Calendar
Whether you need to focus on completing a time-sensitive project or you find yourself persistently facing a growing mountain of paperwork, calendar blocking is a great way to set time aside in advance to tackle your work. By scheduling time on your calendar, you (and those with access) will refrain from arranging meetings during the time you’ve blocked off. In addition, the pop-up notifications are like your own personal alarm clock, reminding you to redirect your concentration to important matters when necessary.
Prioritize Your Work
Mapping out your workload in order of importance is one of the most advantageous things you (and your staff) can do to foster higher productivity levels. Dedicate a few minutes each morning to take a look at what you have on your plate and prioritize your work for the day – tackling urgent matters first. For the larger tasks, try cutting them down into smaller steps – this way, you are approaching the project in a strategic manner and will feel accomplished each time you check off another box.
Because we live in an age of smartphones, apps, and digital hacks, it should come as no surprise that technology can help you manage your time and reach higher levels of productivity. Apps like Workflow or RescueTime can help track where you’re spending your time, eliminate distractions, and optimize your workflow. The Workflow app, for example, can be used to streamline certain tasks, like having directions for your meetings automatically pulled up via Google Maps. Often times, we get caught up answering emails or browsing the internet and leveraging these kinds of apps will help limit time-wasting activities and restructure how you spend your day.
Another avenue to consider is cloud-based financial solutions to consolidate data and optimize reporting. Cloud systems allow users to access the platform from virtually anywhere, meaning you can communicate with colleagues or clients and share reports quickly and efficiently regardless of where you are. Moving to a cloud-based program will also minimize time spent creating financial statements or calculating data. Along similar lines, using automation for certain processes, such as reconciling accounts and balancing the books, can boost efficiency and save you and your staff a boatload of time.
Avoid Being Understaffed
Finance and accounting professionals are well acquainted with inflated workloads around the close of a fiscal year, tax season, and reporting deadlines. Waiting until you’re inundated with work or your staff is drowning in an ocean of W2’s and 1099’s is not the time to suddenly add hiring to your workload. Instead, prepare for these peak periods by beginning the hiring process a couple months in advance. Partnering with a staffing firm is a great way to attract temporary workers and alleviate the burden that comes with seasonal upticks.
From employees who retire and resign to ones that become sick or get fired, every company encounters staff-related changes over the years. Designing an effective succession plan includes training programs that are focused on developing skills across various functions and setting future leaders up with the tools they need to advance their careers. Through this type of planning, you can delegate projects to staff members who are cross-trained in your area of expertise to avoid overextending yourself. Successful delegation allows you to put your concentration back on important matters like revenue growth or building client relationships.
Become a Master of Time
As Harriett Jackson Brown Jr. said, “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” By honing your time management skills, you will finally start feeling like this quote holds true. Not only will mastering your workflow and productivity help you reach new levels of success, but it’ll ensure you’re maintaining a healthy work/life balance.