7 tips to increase your productivity as an accountant
Accountants know better than anyone that time is money. So, if your working days are filled with half-finished tasks, email distractions and one too many checks of your social media, then it’s time for a productivity overhaul. Make sure that you’re using the time you spend working effectively – it will bring you extra leisure time, make you feel less stressed, and increase the amount you can earn. In this blog, we take a look at our 7 top tips for powerful productivity for self-employed accountants.
Don’t multitask – focus on one thing at a time
When you have a to-do list that seems to stretch endlessly on, it’s tempting to try and multi-task your way through the day. A little bit of email, then 10 minutes on that spreadsheet, then make a phone call to a client. But constant switching between tasks is disorienting for your brain, and will affect your focus. It will cost you precious time to regain concentration between each switch. Not fully focusing on any one thing might also mean silly mistakes start to creep in, which can take extra time and energy to fix later on (and might make you look bad to clients). Instead, try and focus on one task at a time, making sure you complete it before you move onto the next thing. This will help you work more quickly and offer each job your full attention.
Prioritise your list of jobs
Sometimes you don’t need to work harder – just smarter. We get that the to-do list can be daunting. The best way to tackle it is to take control with some ruthless prioritisation. We’ve written before on this blog about how useful a prioritisation matrix can be. This means that you need to assess each task on two counts: 1) how urgent is it? 2) how important is it? 10 minutes spent at the beginning of each week on taking a pragmatic and sensible overview of your accounting workload will help you work more productively.
Things that are both urgent and important should be highest up on your list. Things that are important but not urgent can wait until later in the week. Things that are urgent but not important can either be delegated or consider whether they really need doing at all. Things that are neither urgent nor important go to the bottom of the pile to be sorted when you have more time – or decide to cull them altogether.
Diary out time for bigger tasks
Although we have mostly moved out of pandemic working now, the number of Zoom meetings somehow doesn’t seem to have decreased! This is combined with all the usual distractions of email, phone calls, visitors, and colleagues or cats (depending on whether you’re still working from home or if you’re back in the office). If you have larger or more complex tasks to crack on with, block time out in your online calendar so that you can have some space to concentrate. Protect this time fiercely – don’t be cajoled into accepting a meeting.
Track your time
We’ve all experienced it – spent a whole day working at our desks, then when 5pm rolls around we wonder where exactly the time has gone. If you’re not sure which black hole seemed to suck all the time out of your working day, then you need to start time tracking. Pay attention to how much time you spend on each task in the day, and how often you switch tasks or indulge in distractions. You could track this in a spreadsheet or consider installing an app like Clockify. This will help you see what’s eating up most of your time in the working day – which might be email, client consultations or sneaky looks at Facebook. When you know what it is that’s draining your productivity, you can take steps to address it.
Keep distractions to a minimum
Instagram, emails, Whatsapp messages, cups of tea, office goss, TikTok trends: it’s amazing we get anything done at all in our 21st century working world! If you really want to supercharge your productivity, it’s time to get tough on temptations. That might mean putting your phone on do-not-disturb or blocking social media during work hours. If email is a time-drain, try to only check your messages at set times of the day and turn alerts off. If you work in an office environment, keep socialising to break times and consider wearing headphones to give colleagues a clear signal that you’re not to be disturbed. If you’re working from home, try to have a dedicated work area that’s away from children, pets and household chores – your working hours are not the time to unload the dishwasher or prep a spice mix for tonight’s tea!
Take regular breaks
Staring at screens can be hard on your eyes and your posture. To avoid developing health problems like headaches, eye strain, back problems and repetitive strain injury, experts recommend that you take regular breaks from your workstation, where you get up, stretch, move around and take your eyes away from the screen. Frequent, shorter breaks (5 minutes for every hour) are recommended over longer ones. This may seem like time out of your day, but you can use this to do other activities like make phone calls, or just to rest, reset and come back to your tasks feeling fresher.
Consider when you are most productive
One powerful tool for productivity is understanding your own personal rhythms and preferences. Some of us have more focus in the morning with all our get-up-and-go energy. Others find they start the day sluggish and perk up towards the end of the afternoon. Make the most of your lark or owl tendencies by scheduling in your most demanding jobs and tasks during the times when you know you’re most energised and productive.
Another way to help boost your productivity is a time-saving partnership with Kingsbridge. We offer rewards to accountants who get their contractors signed up to our comprehensive business insurance package. Kingsbridge can also support contractor accountants in their knowledge of IR35 through our training and consultancy services. Find out more on our partnerships page.