Managing director and accountant Benedetto Accounts & Tax
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Using time management to manage lockdown workload

Sole practitioner Georgia Duffee recounts how she managed the launch of the furlough portal on Monday 20 April.    

28th Apr 2020
Managing director and accountant Benedetto Accounts & Tax
Columnist
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My career started in the recovery of the last 2008 recession. So I knew what economic downturn meant to business, but unlike most in the profession, this is the first time I have witnessed a crisis from the start.  

In March I prepared a business bullet proofer for my own business, and I identified five risks to my business I could solve and five opportunities - as cutthroat as it sounds, with risk also comes opportunities. 

The main resolution to over half the curve balls was time management. One of our major threats imminently is work-life balance. Slowly over lockdown, I’ve implemented a tighter time management strategy to manage my work-life balance. 

On Sunday 19 April, I planned my Monday. Every hour was planned (even some periods of 20-45minutes) diligently separated and highlighted out. Monday was going to be a good day. 

I was ploughing through my structured Monday before my phone rang late morning. A client was applying for their furlough claim but had difficulties with the process. Having read on AccountingWEB that some people weren’t charging for this time, I had implemented the most on-point work schedule of the decade - to then have a seriously urgent and important, unpaid task land upon my desk (which I [stupidly in hindsight] hadn’t planned for).

 Fortunately, all my payroll clients had already said they were able, happy and prepared to complete their claim themselves. 

So I moved away from my list and tackled it. 40 minutes later, we had successfully submitted the claim, and I moved back to my plan, aiming to catch up. And the phone rang again. 

Throughout the whole day, I found each of my clients was having the same issues. I ended up walking each and every one of them through the claim via a conferencing call. 

That evening, I felt pretty dismal. I had planned a whole day, hour-by-hour, and in 20-45mins segments, too. But nothing got completed except the feeling of burnout. I had also planned Tuesday, too, so I had no time to catch-up. 

The following day I tailored my time management strategy to become more flexible, diligently organising my hours wasn't the best strategy for me for this unpredictable week. 

The time management strategy has now evolved to writing a list of to-do's for the day and stating how many minutes each task should take, I then write how important each task is.

 That way I ensure I am working on the most important tasks first, and I am clock watching to ensure I complete it in the time I have allocated. It maintains productivity and allows for a more agile prioritisation.

But right now it’s important accountants remain productive and stay motivated. Having the right mindset helped when my time management plans went out of the window. 

Quite fundamentally we are the agent between the government and UK businesses. We can’t take a break from work – and there’s a lot for us to do right now, especially with a new tax year and lots of clients having the time to get their self assessment out the way.  

We are providing a lifeline for our economy to keep ‘surviving’, and some possibly even ‘thriving’ during this time! However, we must keep ‘burning’ at the same time. Through cash - and balance.

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By Kirsty McGregor
29th Apr 2020 21:12

Well done, Georgia. I think firefighting will have to replace structure for the time being, but it’s only temporary.

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