As accountancy practice owners, we’re busy people.
Especially around this time of year with the self-assessment deadline looming!
And when I’m speaking to my clients or other practice owners, one of the biggest (and most common) challenges they say that they face is always time – or, more specifically, a lack of it.
“There’s not enough hours in the day!”
“I don’t have time for this!”
I bet you’re guilty of saying one of those before, right?
These days, the act of being busy seems to be a badge of honour worn by many, as if how busy you are determines how successful you are. But being busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive.
Or that you’re getting everything done…
Or that you’re moving forwards towards your goals!
Being busy always working IN your business means that although work gets done, you limit the time that you can spend working ON your business.
It’s where the feeling of fighting hard to stand still comes from – like you’re constantly working flat out, with no progress to show for it afterwards.
How can you expect to grow your business, increase your profits and have a better work-life balance if you’re spending all your time doing the tasks that keep your business afloat?
How can you move forward if you’re stuck wearing the hat of the ‘accountant’ in your business instead of wearing the hat of ‘business owner’ and spending the time working ON your business?
The answer is in how you manage (or perhaps mismanage) your time.
So, how can you better manage your time whilst still getting everything done and begin growing and improving your accountancy practice too?
Start by committing to using your time better
When you’re working your way through a pile of accounts that need finalising, it’s easy to think that you’re being productive and that these tasks were unavoidable.
But, although these tasks are unavoidable and need to be done, they aren’t contributing to your business moving forward.
It might sound counter intuitive, but your businesses goals are achieved when you are doing less of the urgent tasks (i.e. anything driven by a client deadline) and more of the non-urgent tasks (i.e. working ON the business tasks).
But, how can you find the time to focus on these non-urgent tasks when your time is already taken up doing the tasks that keep your business ticking over?
The answer is that you need to find the time, and the first step in doing this is adopting the mindset that you are committed to finding the time and moving forward in your business.
It absolutely starts with a decision.
Unless you are clear and have drawn a line in the sand, it’ll never happen.
There are several ways in which you can do this – things that have been successful in helping both myself and my clients grow and expand our businesses.
They’re things that help me run an internationally growing coaching business and 2 growing accountancy practices whilst still having a great work-life balance.
1. Stop multi-tasking and start a default diary
You might think that multitasking is great because you’re getting more than one task completed at a time but, multitasking is a path to burnout and it’s also an easy way to make sure your attention is never fully focused on one thing.
This can easily lead to mistakes and having tasks take longer than they should as you’re not concentrating properly and not working to your fullest.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days” – Zig Ziglar
A simple, effective way to ensuring you don’t end up multitasking and you start focusing on one thing at a time is by starting a Default Diary.
Default Diaries involve allocating your time to specific tasks – in specific timeslots. It gives you the opportunity to cement important tasks (i.e. working ON the business tasks) in place and ensure these timeslots become routine every week, month or quarter.
Once these important, rigid tasks are fixed in your diary you can see what other time you have and slot the less important, flexible tasks into the blank spaces.
2. Master delegation
Reducing your workload so that you’re better able to spend time working on your business, as opposed to in it, means committing to delegating tasks to others in your team.
In fact, delegating is one of the most important skills you can learn as a business owner.
First, you should identify which tasks can be delegated to others.
Then, you must identify who you can delegate each individual task to.
Then, you should ensure they have a clear system, checklist or guidelines that they can follow to complete the task to the standard you’d expect.
Lastly, you must agree when the task will be completed.
You might think that this is your part completed – you’ve delegated and agreed when things should be complete – but that doesn’t mean it’s really going to happen.
You also need to follow-up and ensure people are accountable for their work.
Two tools I like to use for doing this are Asana and Slack.
One you’ve mastered the art of successful delegation you’ll have more time on your hands to use for the things that matter most – working towards your business goals.
So, the keys to managing your time better and having more time to spend working on growing your accountancy practice are learning how to use your time better and mastering the art of delegation (and following it up!).
If you can successfully master these I can guarantee you’ll find the time to start working ON your business right away…