Where did the day go? If you’re asking yourself that question on a regular basis, chances are you have a lot of balls to juggle and not as much time as you’d like. But effective time management is a critical part of being a great accountant. Here are some tips to help you work smarter not harder.
Tip #1 – Keep a Record
Record your activities for a week. You’ll quickly see how much time is spent on work-related items and how much time is wasted.
Pro Tip: There’s an app to help you track your time thieves. Rescue Time will help you identify your daily habits and let you know if you’re using your time wisely.
Tip #2 – Plan Your Day
Take the first 15-30 minutes of each day to prioritize tasks. What absolutely has to get done that day? Schedule accordingly. If your answer is, “far too much has to get done today,” identify the largest fire and make it a priority. The time spent planning your day can actually be the most important part of your day. It creates focus and a sense of control.
Tip #3 – Create Reminders
Do you get home, open the fridge and realize that all there is to eat is last week’s Chinese takeout? Then consider creating some kind of a system that will remind you of appointments, errands and key tasks for completion. One free app that can help with this is amusingly named Remember the Milk.
Tip #4 – Stay Focused
Whether it’s a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door, or not answering the phone or email until task x is done, the key to effective time management is staying focused. Schedule time to look at emails or return messages. You’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll get done.
Tip #5 – Social Media
As much fun as social media can be, it’s the supreme time waster. Allow yourself half an hour at lunch to check whatever social media platform you’re using.
Tip #6 – Plan Phone Calls
Before you phone anyone, identify the key thing(s) you want the phone call to accomplish. This will keep the call focused.
Tip #7 – Stop Procrastinating
If you procrastinate because you feel overwhelmed, break the task down into smaller chunks. Create accountability by attaching timelines for the completion of each piece.
Pro Tip: One app that can help even the worst procrastinators is called Finish, which combats procrastination by sorting tasks into short-term, mid-term and long-term categories. Finish offers you reminders at every step, or a focus mode which only shows you the most pressing items.
Tip #8 – Group Related Tasks
Different types of tasks require different kinds of thinking. Maximize efficiency by grouping related tasks that demand a certain kind of mindset.
Work smarter, not harder by practicing key time management habits. Plan your day and phone calls. Schedule time to answer emails and messages. Minimize distractions if possible, including time spent on social media. Use technology (apps) to help with time management if needed. You may be surprised at how much time there is in a day after all.
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