You will only be able to work in accounting for so many years at a rapid pace. One day, you'll need to slow down. However, while you still have the energy for high levels of achievement, you should consider taking control of your immediate environment.
Coordinating the arrangement of the physical as well as psychic spaces in your career in an anticipatory, supportive manner will propel you into getting things done. Why? Well, practically speaking, much of your achievements, not to mention your earnings, comes down to how well you’re able to retrieve what you need. This all adds up to a single concept: filing.
You are already adept at helping your clients maintain organized records. Are you holding yourself to the same standards? Filing is a non-glamorous tool for getting and staying organized. It involves allocating information and materials into their best home and being willing to be adaptable as your needs change.
What do you need to be a good filer? I chalk it up to clear objectives and the space to put a chair in front of a filing cabinet or screen, as well as the resolve to move around items to their best and logical resting place.
If you fear that filing means you're becoming a caretaker, remind yourself you are taking care of items or information you deem to be important. If it isn't crucial, don't save it.
“Conditioning your environment” is a crucial step in organizing and filing effectively. This means you arrange, stock and maintain such spaces in a manner that supports your efforts. Organizing a desk drawer initially takes time and could be slow going. Finding what you need afterwards, however, will be simpler and faster, which makes the effort well worth it.
If you avoid organizing the drawer altogether, with things strewn about, and go on a "hunt" each time you need to find something, you're hampering your productivity potential rather than devising a system that will support you every time. Likewise, the files on your hard drive require constant care and maintenance.
"Managing the beforehand" means preparing for something in advance of a need, such as readying your files in anticipation of new clients and new opportunities. Rather than having your hard copy files and cabinets filled to their brims with information, strip them of all excess materials so you have some vacant space. Managing the beforehand, as opposed to the aftermath, involves creating space – mentally or physically – in advance of what comes next.
With the newly vacant space, you have now created a clearing for the things you'll be receiving. These include new policy memos, new accounting regulations articles you want to save, meeting notes and professional course information you want to review at a later date. We are overloaded with information in our current society, so it's vital to take control in advance.
Once you develop the habit of clearing space in all the compartments of your life, you accomplish many things: You demonstrate that you do have enough space to manage your career and conduct your affairs, and you remain in a ready state to handle what is next rather than trying to figure out where to store things or how to create ad hoc piles.
Conditioning your work environment works well on many levels. When you apply the principles to your entire office, you'll discover how to gain greater balance.
If you need them, room dividers and sound barriers are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and can improve upon any existing sound barriers. The gentle, rhythmic "white noise" of a small fan's motor serves as a sound buffer to many of the noises that may distract you. Maybe you even want a couch for quick cat naps during the day.
In summary, the quality and ambiance of your workspace are optimal when they demonstrate the quality and ambiance of your life or how you would like your career and life to be.
Jeff Davidson, a.k.a. “The Work-life Balance Expert”®, speaks to accounting firms and associations on increasing their work-life balance so they can be more productive and competitive, and still have a life away from work. He is the author of Everyday Project Management, Breathing Space, and Simpler Living. Visit breathingspace.com.