Knocking off the rust

Jul 21st 2010
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I was recently hired to assist its organization with its tax compliance. I was to amend prior year returns and to prepare its return for the current year. The client, happy with my work to this point, asked me to provided additional services and maintain its books. I gladly accepted.

The first project was to convert its file for the current year to QuickBooks, then put together an interim comparative P&L for the first two quarters. It sounds simple enough.
I opened QuickBooks. … 
I couldn’t remember where to start! When I was  working regularly, I accessed QuickBooks on nearly every engagement. I was familiar with the features. Why couldn’t I remember?
There was one factor I had not considered: I had not worked regularly since March.
Can three months of inactivity result in a significant loss of skills? At first, I thought the answer was yes. In hindsight, it was a bad idea that I asked for the client to send me the file in Quicken instead of Excel – because I did not own a copy of Quicken.
My Excel skills had apparently departed, too. For the first hour, I filled every cell manually. I needed that much time to realize that I could perform such simple tasks as drag and drop and linking to cells in other worksheets.
Due to the lack of activity, a 90-minute project took five hours to complete. At the end of this exercise, I realized that moving forward; I not only need to stay up on the accounting pronouncements through reading, I will have to stay sharp with the software programs through practice.

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