Practitioners often make the mistake of working so hard IN their practice during tax season that they forget to allocate time to working ON their practice. They forget about making time for their family, spending time with friends, or setting aside "me" time.
Most practitioners work long and hard – 6 to 7 days per week, 70 to 80 hours per week – cranking out as many tax returns as possible, exhausted at the end of each day. After tax season they find it very difficult to jump start their marketing because it was ignored and unattended for so long.
Then there is another group of practitioners that keep their sanity and their life organized, even during a busy tax season.
They work 30 to 45 hours per week and ALWAYS having one complete day off during the weekend, spend the segment of a weekday on marketing activities, has a vacation planned in March to just chill out, and consistently attain new clients that will generate year-round cashflow.
Don’t be most practitioners this Tax Season. Follow these time management techniques and you will find you have more time, freedom, and success!
1. Delegate the Lower-end Work
Examples: administrative work, putting tax returns together, E-filing tax returns, collecting fees, etc.
This is the type of work you could pay somebody to perform from $12 to $25 per hour. That equates to approximately $24,000 to $50,000 per year. If you’re content earning that kind of money then continue doing these tasks. However, if you want to earn a handsome six figure sum and, at the same time, own a practice that is increasing in value each year, you MUST delegate this work to someone else.
2. Don’t Answer Your Office Phone
As a rule, I don’t personally answer the phone. All incoming calls are routed through my administrative team who screen my calls and, more often than not, are able to transfer the caller to an appropriate person within the firm (other than me!)
For calls that I simply must handle, I have scheduled blocks of time in my calendar during which I will return calls. Two separate half-hour periods, one in the morning and one late afternoon, works best for me. I also make sure clients are aware of my policy so that they know to expect my response during these times.
3. Have a To-Do List
To-Do lists may seem old-fashioned and may be seen by some as an outdated organizational tool, but I haven’t been able to find a better way to keep on track throughout the day. Take your To-Do lists to the next level by maintaining daily, weekly, and annual lists to help you stay focused not only day-by-day, but over the course of the entire year. I use Microsoft Word on my computer to maintain my To-Do list. My day starts with looking at my To-Do list and prioritizing it. As each item gets completed, I put a line through it.
4. Organize Your Time Into Blocks
Scheduling similar tasks or activities into blocks of time will enable you to take advantage of the efficiencies that can be developed with a well-thought out calendar. Scattering appointments throughout the work week is the perfect way to reserve yourself a week full of interruptions and distractions.
I recommend clustering all your appointments within a certain period, allowing you to spend a solid block of time focused on customer service and “people skills”, and then, you’ll feel safe in the knowledge that the remainder of your day/week has been set aside for you to gain momentum as you focus on other productive activities requiring longer periods of concentration and focus.
5. Learn to Say 'No'
To satisfy clients, employees and colleagues, too often we fall into the habit of agreeing to any and all requests. The key to a healthy, balanced life is knowing our limits and realizing that the sheer volume of requests that we are bombarded with every day is simply unrealistic and counter-productive to success. You will garner a lot of respect by striking the right balance, and will encourage others to work things out for themselves.
6. Take a Break
You know how sometimes your computer is having ‘one of those days’ and won’t cooperate? When these days strike, your only option is often to switch your PC off and reboot. The same goes for us – sometimes the brain just needs a refresh. Taking an hour or two, the afternoon or a whole day off, gives your mind a chance to relax and unwind.
These six time-management techniques will help you to manage your 24 hours per day more effectively. So, if you’d like to get more done in less time, try implementing some of these tools into your daily life and you will soon see a beneficial effect on your practice and your wellbeing.
Salim Omar is the author of The Million Dollar CPA Firm. He is also a successful business owner of Straight Talk CPAs, an accounting firm, and President of CPA Marketing Genius. He has a passion for helping CPAs engage in personal growth and professional development. While he is...