Top tips to achieve peak productivity this tax season
As we enter the second week of December, many of us will have begun to batten down the hatches in what promises to be a busy two-month period. The annual cancelling of social plans has begun and the dread of working over Christmas will have set in for plenty of accountants.
Time in December and January is at a premium. And what may be surprising to our clients, is that accountants are normal people and time at work equates to missing out on important moments. Long hours at work chasing information translates into missing meal-times with kids, missing wine o’clock with your significant other and missing out on the chance to sleep through another movie with the family.
All much more appealing moments than chasing your client for information they could have sent through in October.
And while you may not be able to control when you receive the necessary data, one variable you can manage, is your productivity in the workplace. If you race through the returns at a rate, which enables you to get home two hours earlier than normal, then that is a huge bonus.
So, we have compiled a list of our favourite productivity tips. We don’t advise you to adopt them all at once. Instead, pick a couple you like, try them and if they work stick with them.
If not, select another two from the list and try them.
Take control of meetings
There is nothing worse than being called into a meeting and coming away thinking an email would have sufficed. We have all experienced the worst part of meetings: they take ages to start, last too long or go off topic. In such a busy period it is imperative you keep control of meetings before they consume your time.
Announce at the start, you have 15 minutes to get the matter resolved. This gets everyone on the same page and ensures people won’t waste time.
Have an agenda and circulate it. Again, this dictates peoples’ expectations of the meeting from the outset. If you have an agenda then people will stick to it. Enter a meeting without one and time is wasted discussing irrelevant topics.
Delegate your workload
Your time is too valuable to be spent on mundane administrative tasks. Pass the work onto a trainee or admin assistant.
While it may take time to train them up, they will only need the training once and will value the trust you are placing in them. This means you can delegate more work in the future and you maintain motivation throughout your team by sharing the responsibility.
Part of building a successful business is trusting your staff to carry out work so you create more time for yourself. Don’t horde work because you think you have a necessity for perfection. If you can’t delegate then you have little chance of success.
Reduce time spent on email
Most emails require a quick and easy reply that should not impeach much of your day. But the sheer volume of emails received mean they can quickly consume your day.
Have set times for checking email. Do not keep checking it throughout the day.
Don’t use your productive hours to check email. The simple tasks that do not require much attention should be completed in down time on the commute or when you have a late afternoon slump.
When you have multiple jobs to complete, which are all at different stages, it is easy to try and juggle multiple tasks at once. What is often seen as a skill and something to boast of, is actually a myth.
Humans can’t multi-task and constantly interchanging between tasks can have an adverse effect on productivity. The brain needs time to tune into a task and constantly switching your focus results in an inability to concentrate.
Limit what you are working on and try see tasks through to completion once you begin them.
There is no longer any need to spend hours on data entry. There are many accounting software providers available to help you improve the efficiency of your practice.
Get a software that:
Manages job status and KPI’s from a dashboard
Integrates with other modules
The information in Nomisma’s bookkeeping, payroll, self-assessment and final accounts automatically populates in the necessary places to stop you re-entering the same data.
Take a nap
If you caught a colleague or a boss napping you would probably think they were irresponsible or unprofessional. But short naps that range from a couple of minutes to half an hour, have been shown to improve:
Creative problem solving
The ability to learn
So, while a nap may make you inactive for 10 minutes, it can boost your productivity for the following few hours.
PS. The unpleasant heavy feeling after naps, is called sleep inertia and only occurs from naps that last longer than 30 minutes. So, make sure you keep it under half an hour and you’re good to go (to sleep).
Get a sweat on
Instead of sitting at your desk wrestling with the same problem for hours on end, take yourself out of the stuffiness of the office and go for a brisk walk around the block.
Exercise improves brain function, workplace stamina and hormonal balance, which are all good for maximum productivity.
Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So, if you cannot concentrate at a certain time in the day no matter how hard you try, you would be silly not to try something new. A short burst of exercise could have a major positive effect on your day.
Feeling a bit guilty because you took time out of the working day will be another motivator to maintain productivity in your final few hours.
Set self-imposed deadlines
Rather than seeing stress as a negative, a manageable level of self-imposed stress can be a strong motivator to power through and get things done.
Setting yourself a time to complete a task by is a method that keeps you accountable for your working day. Watching the clock can be a gentle reminder to stop making excuses and complete the task by a certain time.
Plan your day
You will be aware of when your peak productivity hours are and the times when you struggle to complete the simplest of tasks.
Unsurprisingly, you are not a robot. Humans go through peaks and troughs throughout the day and it’s completely natural.
Planning your day forces you to consider when you are most productive and block booking these times for maximum productivity. This process enables you to take advantage of your slow periods. If you struggle to concentrate in the late afternoon then plan a walk around the block to get some fresh air to keep you alert for the final push of the day.
Use more screens
If you currently use one screen, you will be accustomed to the annoyance of constantly switching through windows and tabs as you try to get on with your work.
Implementing a second screen provides you with better viewing options due to the increased amount of space.
When you have easier access to documents, you remove the off-putting task of remembering where they are.
Start off with this list and if they don’t work, search the internet for some more. If you find a good one that works for you, please let us know! Good luck over the next two months.