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Productivity hacks for accountants

30th Apr 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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What if, every day, you left work knowing you’d achieved everything you set out to do? How would that make you feel? Shane Lukas shares key tips for ramping up your productivity

Productivity hacks for accountants - AVN Inspiring Accountants - image of working at desk  and multi tasking
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Productivity is one of the buzz words of our age. As demands on our time increase, there’s a constant pressure to Get More Done.  We’re all searching for the secret that will help us to effortlessly accomplish everything on our to do lists. 

The truth is, there’s no one thing that will magically make you a productivity whiz. But understanding what causes poor productivity is the first step.

(Get more productivity hacks in this on-demand webinar - no need to register)

Here are 3 key causes and what to do about them.

Interruptions 

Phone calls. Conversations with colleagues. Those ‘quick questions’ from your team. Those ‘quick questions’ from your clients. We’re bombarded with interruptions all day long. 

But did you know that, when you sit down to do a piece of work, you don’t work at full concentration straight away? It takes an average of 11 minutes to reach the stage where you’re truly focused. And an interruption of just 2.5 seconds will set you back to the beginning again.

So with every interruption your brain has to try to get back in gear, which then takes another 11 minutes. No wonder you feel like you aren’t making any progress.

Distractions

Distractions come from many quarters these days. The ping of an email in your inbox or a message on your phone. Those notifications from Facebook or Instagram that are so tempting to check. Then before you know it, half an hour’s gone and you’ve achieved nothing. 

It’s not your fault. Those tech companies know exactly how to keep you engaged and scrolling on their platforms. But in terms of productivity, it’s a nightmare.

Clouded brain

When we’re busy, with dozens of things on our to do lists, it’s hard to focus properly. Our brain gets clouded with all the tasks we know we need to do but can’t get to because we’re doing something else. 

And it really does reduce productivity, partly because you don’t get a good night’s sleep when you’re anxious and worried about everything you have to do the next day.

How to deal with the productivity-busters

Keep a diary of when you’re interrupted and why. Is your team interrupting you with things you feel they should be able to manage by themselves? Could they handle some of those client queries? Is there a system you could put in place to prevent it happening?

I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique. If you haven’t heard of it already, it’s very simple but very effective. Essentially, it means focusing on one task for 25 minutes, taking a five minute break, then doing another 25 minutes. In the breaks you can do anything you like – go for a walk, check your emails, make a cup of tea – then go back into your focused work again. 

We can only maintain maximum concentration levels for around 20 minutes so this is an efficient way to make the most of that time.

Turn off email and phone notifications so you aren’t distracted. I also have an automatic reply on my emails which states that I check my inbox twice a week. Sometimes I check it more frequently but it sets the expectation that I won’t be replying straight away. If you do this, of course you should also have an alternative email/phone number for urgent maters.

To refresh a clouded brain you need a system to store those thoughts that come to you when you’re in the middle of something else. It could be recording a voice note on your phone or simply jotting it down with pen and paper. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as those thoughts are out of your brain and stored elsewhere. Personally, I use Trello as it’s simple to organise and collaborate with my team. 

These are just a fraction of the many productivity hacks available. I looked into this in more detail in a webinar I ran a little while back. We covered effective meetings, the benefits of batching tasks, structuring your day for maximum productivity and much more.

Watch the webinar recording here: How to double – or even triple – your productivity