3 Steps for Accountants to Jump Start Productivity Before Busy Season

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It’s often referred to as the calm before the storm. As any accountant who does taxes knows, there’s a very small window of time between the winter holidays and the end of January, when accountants have a moment to sip a cup of joe (rather than funneling it) and take a long, deep breath before busy season.

December and January can be a great time to jump-start productivity—to refocus and remind oneself how to work smarter, not necessarily harder. By taking a look at your laundry list of tasks to check off now, you’ll know you’re well-equipped to handle the onslaught of calls and emails after the New Year.

To-do #1: Get organized. If you’re great with complex calculations but not so much with plowing through a to-do list, consider technology that can help you stay on track. The Todoist app (available on iOS or Android) is a great task manager for a busy professional (or personal) life. With more than 2 million users and stellar reviews, the free app allows you to share tasks with others, and also syncs across devices like iPhone, iPad, browser, Gmail and more. It offers in-app purchases to upgrade your organizing power.

To-do #2: A quick and dirty review of your 2015 marketing plan. Since time is of the essence, it’s important to make sure any tasks you need to execute are manageable and relatively small-scale. For example, is your firm’s website updated and navigable? Check off the most important updates to the site now—like a relevant homepage and accessibility to potential and current clients—and then save the overhaul for post-tax season.

Is social media a part of your plan? Use some “downtime” to put together a brief calendar to keep your team on track to post frequently. Leveraging Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like to build your firm’s brand and attract new clients will only be successful with consistency. Make an impression on a potential customer now. Establishing a good social media routine now—five tweets per day and one shared article via LinkedIn, for example—will help with follow-through when February, March, and April have arrived.

To do #3: Update your technology. The Sleeter Group reports that 45 percent of accounting clients require or prefer a firm that is adaptive to technology changes. Particularly as the clientele changes, a successful firm will evolve to meet those needs. If your firm or partners have been reluctant to move from a desktop-based (or even paper-based) system to a cloud-based platform, now’s the prime time to forge ahead.

For every knock against technology, there are solid reasons behind using it to retain clients and win new ones. Current tech can free up more time in an accountant’s schedule to cross-sell services to a tenured customer and evolve from a mere tax pro to a trusted business advisor. Cloud-based technology can also improve workflow by ensuring that all accountants working on a particular piece of valuable business are on the same page and have access to the same materials. When busy season hits and the firm’s pace transitions into fifth gear, a solid solution can mean the difference between a staff member spending five hours on a particular analysis versus seven hours. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race anymore. Accountants need to move at the speed of business.

By checking off these to-do's from your list in December and January, you can save yourself a headache or two come busy season, and be on track for success.

About the author:

Jessica L. Ballard is a Marketing Director at Sageworks, where she oversees content strategy and delivery, product launches and market research for the accounting and valuation markets.

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