When everyone is needing a piece of you, and you have so many urgent tasks to complete in your accountancy practice, it can be difficult to know what to prioritise first. And reading articles on time management for accountants probably isn’t near to the top of your list right now! So we asked Heather Townsend, author and founder of The Accountants Millionaires’ Club, to talk through the advice she gives her club members on what to tackle first.
The perils of growing I get it. And I really mean I get it. As the Accountants Millionaires’ Club grows, I am experiencing all the same problems that my clients are. (And yes, the last thing I need to read and write right now is an article on time management for accountants!) The million and one priorities, the clients wanting more of your time than you have got, needing to closely supervise staff to get them to the point where they can work without you… yep, that’s me and my business at the moment. Growing an accountancy firm isn’t easy. (Or any service business for that matter!) However, when it comes to prioritising what to do next, there are some simple rules that you can follow. Cash is king I know this tip isn’t to do with time management for accountants, but it is always the first thing I recommend to my overwhelmed and stressed accountancy firm owners. Everything is just that bit easier with a little bit of cash in the bank. So, the first priority which needs to be tackled is invoicing and credit control. It’s amazing how many accountancy firm owners get behind – normally with the ad hoc billing – for work that has been completed and agreed to by clients. The longer you leave this, the more likely the client will dispute the bill and you will need to discount it or write it off. What can you delegate to others? The next priority is to look at what is on your desk that can be delegated to others. For example, I have a simple presentation I use for the ‘surgery sessions’ we run monthly for club members. I realised the start of the script and 5 of the 6 slides could be easily put together by someone else. Even if they couldn’t do the whole thing, just getting 50% of it done for me means I don’t need to do it. Even if your staff are saying they are full up, still look for stuff to delegate to them. In my experience staff are ‘always busy’ and will make the work swell to fill the time available. I’m not suggesting you take advantage of your staff. Just look for little things you can delegate down which will help you and not take up too much time and effort for your staff. Can you get started with outsourcing? Outsourcing is a great way of getting stuff off your desk to free you up to focus on what you love doing. You’ll be amazed how quickly Global Infosys can get started on your backlog of year end accounts.
Factor in breaks When we work for long stretches we actually get more and more unproductive. So set a timer and after 50 mins stuck at your desk, force yourself to have a 10 minute break. On the 10 minute break aim to do a little bit of gentle exercise. Whether it is going for a walk or some simple stretches. One of my clients does yoga stretches in her office multiple times a day. Put in a plan to hit the non-negotiable deadlines When you have so much work on your plate it is SO easy to get overwhelmed, and then get the ‘rabbit in the headlights’ feeling. I.e. you just don’t do anything. The best thing you can do in this situation is stop, and work out a plan of what needs to be achieved at the end of each day. Or if things are really tight, what needs to be done by the end of each half day. Literally just focus on what HAS to be done, rather than trying to do everything.
Arun completed his training as a Chartered Accountant in India in 2001 and has since been based in the UK. In 2005 he completed his ACMA and achieved an MBA (London school) in 2007, specialising in Strategic Management harnessing his academic skills to head up the operational side of the business and also to market the benefits of outsourcing...