Sometimes as finance and accounting professionals, it can feel like we are frequently expected to deliver strategic results with fewer resources. So it’s no wonder it feels like we’re drowning in an ever increasing workload. To help you regain control of your time, here are some 7 hacks that will see you on the path to effective time management and results-generating productivity!
Hack 1. Manage that Phone
First up, get an app on your phone that you will alert you when you’re about to exceed a specified (by you) allotted daily phone time. Start with 60 minutes per day and once you have used up that time, that’s it. No more phone calls for the rest of the day. If you use time management techniques such as the Pomodoro technique,that sees you do 25-minute blocks of intense concentration followed by five-minute breaks, and you can resist the urge to answer every incoming call,this will go some way to ensuring you keep to your time limit. That and turn off all unnecessary notifications – and be strict on what is necessary.
Hack 2. Controlling the Email
Do you have folders and automated rules for your inbox? Or is it a free-for-all? If you’re still using email to communicate with people within your firm, this needs to stop.When does anyone enjoy the experience of trying to organise an internal meeting when you have to copy in five people and then someone has a question… ! Email should be reserved for your clients only and using tools like Slack for internal emails, can help you eliminate all the redundant and unnecessary internal emails in your inbox. Imagine how much faster and smarter you can respond to clients when all the internal noise in your inbox has been eliminated.
For external emails, unsubscribe from as many distribution lists as possible—opt out of everything you don’t truly need. Then“folder” your external emails by using the rules feature on your email platform. Filtering out all the noise in your inbox, ensures incredibly quick responses to those all-important emails from clients.
Hack 3. Owning Your Time
Take the time each day to thinkabout (a)The most important thing I have to get done today, and (b) how long it will take me to get it done.At the end of the day, review your activity. See if you got your most important stuff done and how long it took. Did it take longer (or shorter) than you planned? Additionally, try practicing The Pomodoro Technique,as mentioned above. Instead of hours and minutes, start thinking about your time in terms of “Pomodoros”: i.e., how many Pomodoros will it take me to get a complex return done?. Check in weekly to see whether you are on track or off track and make adjustments. Block the time out in your calendar every morning. If 25 minutes is too short, try 90 minutes of deep, focused work, followed by a half-hour break. As counter-intuitive as it may feel, you are more productive if you step away and clear your mind and then go back to work more refreshed.
Hack 4. Valuing Your Time
When you have tasks that would be better suited to a skilled expert, or you want to utilise your employees to their maximum potential rather than doing menial tasks, then outsourcing to a freelancer or agency may be a good alternative.The secret to outsourcing is to first realize that you’re not the only one who can get things done and that not everything has to be done inhouse.Projects like data entry, transcription, customer service, sales, and many others can be outsourced affordably. While it may feel like a hit to your bottom line, in the long run, it gives you and your team time to focus on the areas of your business you really enjoy working on.
Hack 5. Manage Your Calendar
If you are constantly at the mercy of your calendar, you and the firm need a tool like Calendly. If you haven’t come across it before, Calendly allows people,internal and external, to book time directly in your calendar, giving them access to just the open blocks of time that you’ve allocated each day and week for meetings and appointments. Using Calendly, will stop the back and forth communication when trying to schedule (or reschedule) an appointment.
Additionally, when meetings are run effectively, they are a great way to leverage your valuable time, resources and energy. Soto make sure it is an effective meeting have the organiser identify the following, prior to the meeting:
- What you want to accomplish
- What’s the biggest difference it will make?
- What will the completed project/solution look like?
- What are the criteria you’ll use to measure success?
- What purpose and preparation is each attendee responsible for
Sometimes, the process of answering these questions helps people solve their own problems. That alone will cut down your need for internal meetings by at least 50 percent. Finally, it goes without saying—never hold a meeting without an agenda.
Hack 6. Learning Efficiently
Whilst it would be nice to sit down and get through a few good books, it is time consuming. So before committing to a book, there are some great apps that give you a quick summary of books so you can decide whether it’s worth pursuing. Apps like Blinkist and Get Abstract will provide 10-20 minute summaries and thiswill make your learning far more effective knowing you are channelling your energy and time into the right resources.Additionally,devote a small amount of your time now to save time laterby learning how to use the tools at your disposal effectively. Take Excel as an example. It’s one of the most amazing pieces of software and it’s constantly improving. But do you know all the shortcuts and tricks that will be hugely time saving? For some handy timesavers check out the ExcelTips site.
Hack 7. Exercise Matter
We can spend long hours working and sitting behind computers for a majority of the day. It’s well-known that this is not great for the body and mind, so be sure to incorporate exercise into your day. Where possible, exercise in the morning. Prioritize your exercise just like you would a business engagement and don’t miss it for any reason.“The ailments caused by inactivity kill productivity”.
While having your smartphone, email, calendar and other tools have been developed to make you a better professional, they have also create added expectations around productivity and availability. So take some control back. No matter how crazy busy season gets this year, remember there are plenty of excellent tools out there to help you remain the boss of your time, your energy and your sanity.
Boobalan Madhavan | AccSource | www.accsource.com.au
48/237 Miller Street,
+ 61 406 727061
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