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7 hacks to work more efficiently every accountant should know

Efficiency seldom hurts, even if you have all the resources you need. But it becomes especially useful, required even, when you find yourself lacking time or resources. 

The last 18 months or so has seen accountants more time-pressed than ever before – so it’s been critical to adapt to new ways of working. And to find tools to help carve more time into your day.

So how can you work more effectively, without compromising on quality? In this guide we’ve got seven hacks that are proven to help. Read on to find out what they are.

Delegate and monitor

If you run an accounting practice or if you have been assigned team-lead duties, it might be hard to resist the temptation of micromanaging your team. It can be easy to get lost in the pursuit of perfection but it is important to remember that your team members, colleagues, or employees are perfectly competent. 

Understand that assigning a task, giving some level of freedom to the assignee, and monitoring the performance is a lot easier to maintain as a scalable process than micromanaging a task. Not only does it get more work done across a team, but it also frees up your time from not having to constantly think about a task. 

That time can be better spent in delegating and monitoring more tasks if your team is large enough.

Keep multitasking to a minimum

This might sound counterproductive from a distance, but hear us out. Research shows that humans are incredibly incapable of multitasking. We can only ever do one task at a time even though we might be very quick in shifting between tasks. The way our brain works and functions is that it starts off by focusing on a task. This flow of focus can easily be disrupted by constantly shifting between tasks. This can also include shifting between preparing accounts for different clients. 

A much better way of working is to set a task and complete it. You might not get it done in one sitting but for the time you decide to work on it, that task is all you should do.

Barnaby Lashbrooke wrote in her feature for Forbes that even practising multitasking will not help us get better at it. All it will do is reduce our attention span and disrupt our focus. 

That’s why we always recommend sticking to a singular task and seeing it to completion, over the short term at least. You can always multitask over an entire day or a week. But if it’s a task that takes between an hour and four, we would advise completing it first and then moving onto the next one.

Streamline operations with cloud software

Most accountants rely heavily on software to perform a number of accounting tasks. These include bookkeeping, producing graphs and tables, and generating data for reports. But if you are using software that has not been updated for a while or does not support advanced integrations like taking data directly from bank account statements, you might be spending a lot of time trying to get things to work instead of performing accounting tasks.

Cloud software reduces the need to upgrade your hardware. It is also cheaper in the short term as most cloud software is available as a subscription. 

Optimise how you use emails and apps

After talking about focusing on tasks, one of the biggest distractions is often notifications from emails or messaging platforms. While communicating with clients is a key part of your day-to-day working life, you might find it useful to block out specific times for working through emails – and likewise dedicated time for focused work. 

The same goes for other apps. Constantly checking instant messaging apps on your phone, your LinkedIn, or your SMS log will cause the same throttling issues caused by always checking emails.

We recommend putting your phone away for certain hours of the day. Keeping the phone in ‘silent mode’ is also effective since it gets rid of any notifications from apps that might become distracting.

Umar, a senior accountant at Base Practice Support, says: 

“I can’t start the day with emails. I usually get some work done first. That way, if a certain email is not the most pleasant, I feel happier that I’ve had some productive time first. I don’t look at my emails at the end of the day either. It leaves no room for planning things out.”

He told us that he usually checks his emails around 11am in the morning and once at around 3pm while he takes his afternoon coffee, to help remain focused for the rest of the day. Emails usually require you to respond to them or perform another task. But before you even get to the task, the thought has already taken up space in your mind. 

To work really efficiently, the idea is to remain focused on one task at a time and then move to the next.

Take lots of regular breaks

We don’t know many accountants who can work constantly for hours at the same level of productivity without taking breaks. Breaks are an integral part of your work as an accountant as they help you recharge by decluttering your mind. Think of breaks as mini activities that help you unwind.

Although taking breaks is important, what’s equally important is deciding what to do when taking them. Doing nothing while on a break is a perfectly fine choice. Some people find great solace in doing nothing. However, we would still recommend the following activities that can potentially boost your physical and mental wellbeing.

  • Taking a walk around the office, or your home, to counteract the effects of sitting for long periods of time.
  • Drinking water to stay hydrated.
  • Drinking tea or coffee if you feel a little drowsy.
  • Doing flexing exercises to help improve posture.
  • Chatting with colleagues who are also on breaks.

Stay up to date with AI-driven tools

Thanks to AI, we now have smart systems driven by automation that provide invaluable resources for accountants. Using tools such as image to text converters can help you save on time and money from not having to get the text digitised from old receipts. Even if the text is poorly written, AI tools that use Optical Character Recognition resources can read almost anything these days.

Umar talks about the benefits of using advanced apps:

“Our clients are very used to QuickBooks, Xero, and Sage. They really like the fact that the system can generate all sorts of reliable and accurate reports if it has the correct data. But there are apps that use AI to go a step further. They can produce forecasts, projections, and estimates by taking into account several factors. It’s getting really interesting by the day what we can do with these new apps.” 

And it doesn’t stop there. AI-driven services that perform data analysis functions can really improve efficiency. Tasks such as report generation, cashflow management, and forecasting can be performed far quicker and more accurately than doing them manually.

The best bit? They are super easy to learn and even easier to use when you have given them a few hours.  

Complete tasks ahead of schedule

Whether it’s voting, making a payment, or getting work done, almost all of us have been guilty at one point or another of leaving it to the very last minute. And although some level of procrastination is allowed to all of us, minimising it and getting tasks done early can be hugely rewarding for an accountant.

Completing tasks ahead of schedule leaves more room for planning, breaks, and small talks with colleagues. All of these actions provide that crucial balance between off and on time. 

But more importantly, getting work done well before it’s due makes you more organised. This can benefit you if you work at an accounting firm or if you run a practice yourself. In the former, you can create evidence of your performance by completing tasks in a timely manner to better your chances of getting promoted. In the latter, you can get more work done if you get other work done faster. Time is money when you are a business owner, and even more so when you run an accounting practice.

With Fluidly, you can get  forecasting, planning, funding and debtor management software in one easy-to-use solution. We’re running a special promotion with 12 months free if you sign up today.

Simply book a demo at a time that suits you.

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