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5 ways to find more time

11th Jun 2024
Brought to you by
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Are you running an accountancy practice? Or is it running you?

AVN helps you to take back control of your practice.

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How often have you reached the end of the day and felt you’ve achieved nothing? We all get the same 24 hours and yet some people seem to effortlessly accomplish so much more than others. What’s their secret? Shane Lukas looks into it.

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Well, there isn’t one big secret that instantly gives you the power to do more in less time. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make improvements. I’ve been digging into this for a while now and I’ve found five key factors that have a real impact. Get all of these right and you’ll be racing ahead; start doing even just one or two and it will still make a difference.

Download more time management tips here

I’m focusing here on making more time in your accountancy practice, so you can stop being bogged down in the day-to-day stuff and get on with building a brilliant business. But these work in other areas of your life too.

1. Block out time

You can’t move your practice forward if you don’t devote time to it. Think of it as your number one client – because that’s what it is. If it doesn’t run well, it can’t serve your other clients properly. So block out time in your diary for working on your practice and make sure your team know not to schedule anything else in. It could be an hour or a whole day; whatever it is, that time is sacred

I remember talking to an accountant many years ago in the days when we all used paper diaries. He told me, "No matter how much I tried to block out time for working on my business, something would always come in and I would fill it. And then I found the best way ever to block out the time.” What did he do? He tore out every single Friday page from his diary for the entire year so nothing else could possibly go in there. How could you do that with your own diary?

2. What are you aiming for?

This may not sound like a time management tip but it’s crucial if you want to stop wasting time on things that aren’t important. 

You need to find out what your priorities are, both personally and for your business. What would your perfect practice look like? What role do you want to be doing? What kind of fees do you want to be charging and how much profit do you want to make? How many hours a week do you want to work? What do you want to be doing outside work, with your family and friends? 

Put specific targets in place for the things that matter to you. Then when, say, somebody wants a cheap and nasty set of accounts doing, you can make a decision. Is working with this client going to bring you closer to your vision or further away?

It's so important to be clear on your priorities as this enables you to make better decisions on how you spend your time.

3. The 80/20 principle

This one might sound a bit scary, but it will free up lots of time. You’re probably aware of the 80/20 principle; that 80% of your results come from 20% of your clients. So list your clients on a spreadsheet in order of profitability (not fees). Then look closely at where most of your profit is coming from. 

What if you were to lose the bottom 20%? How much extra time would that create for you? You might not want to get rid of all 20% at one go but start with a few. Raise your fees for them so they either become profitable or they leave. 

4. What do you do all day?

Identify how you’re currently spending your time. This isn’t the same as keeping time sheets, so get a diary or use the notes function on your phone or computer. Then log what you’re doing throughout the day. Not just what you’re working on but the interruptions too, whether that’s phone calls, emails, or someone popping in to ask you a ‘quick’ question. All these things affect our concentration and make tasks take longer than they should.

Keep this diary for a week and then review it. It will highlight if you’re spending too much time on admin, for example, or doing work that could be delegated.

5. Systemise like a pro

Without systems, everything takes longer. You have to explain the same things again and again and you’re constantly reinventing the wheel. 

Your diary will help you identify the tasks that crop up most commonly and the low-level ones that can be delegated. Starting with the one that takes up the most of your time, create a step-by-step system for someone else to follow. Ask one of your team to test it out and tweak it according to their feedback. It may not be perfect first time but it will start the process. Once that one’s done, move on to the next. 

These aren’t the only factors of course. Download more tips on time management - fourteen and a half in fact – here