Time Management Tips: Working Efficiently and Effectively This Busy Season - A Staff Person's Perspective
By Eamonn McElroy
Tax Associate, CBIZ MHM, LLC
What season comes after the holiday season? Busy season!
Managing your time and how you work during busy season is really about more than saving hours; it will help to reduce stress and increase productivity. Here are a few practices that help me manage my time during busy season and could prove useful to you:
Delegate as much as possible to free yourself for higher value activities. Delegate what you can to administrative staff, interns, and sometimes staff less experienced than you (especially if they’re looking for work). Examples include: scanning documents, rolling forward data, and preparing technical items which are both routine and easy in nature.
Know thy hotkeys. As accountants, we live in Excel. The time saved by using hotkeys may seem miniscule but can pay dividends over the long-term. Useful hotkeys range from the commonly known “Ctrl+C” to copy and “Ctrl+V” to paste, to the lesser known but just as useful “Alt+=” to generate the sum function, and finally to holding “Shift+Ctrl” and using the arrow keys to select a large amount of numbers.
Use calendars, alarms and flags if they’re available to you. Microsoft Outlook has a variety of features which aid in managing workflow and helping stay on target for deadlines. The calendar allows you to create appointments and “alarms” associated with them which are useful reminders. Additionally, calendars can be shared among team members to help coordinate timing expectations. Lastly, the mail feature of Outlook can be used to keep emails organized by using flags and color coding.
Be mindful of the clock, but don’t be controlled by it. Keep an eye on the clock, but don’t stress if you sometimes go over budget on a project assigned to you. The ultimate goal is always to deliver the highest quality product to the client within our budget constraints. If you’re halfway through a project and begin to anticipate that the budget may not be enough, make it a point to communicate with the person in charge of the project to devise a plan for the best way to proceed.
Lastly, know yourself. Work when you’re most effective. Some people like to come in at seven o’clock every morning and get an hour or two of quiet work in before everyone shows up. Some people like to come in at nine o’clock and work later because they’re more effective in the afternoon and evening. Know what works for you! If you work better taking a quick and small thirty minute lunch during busy season, do that. If a full hour allows you to relax more and revisit your workflow rejuvenated, do that instead.
Do you have any busy season tips, or any processes that would improve efficiency and effectiveness? Share in the comment box below!