Plan More and Work Less in your CPA Practice

According to Sage, “83% of accountants say clients demand more from them today than five years ago.” Without proper planning, this increased demand can add to additional stress, which will affect your business productivity. Are you planning adequately?

Chefs work by the code, “mise en place,” which means, “everything in its place.” Think about an executive chef at your favorite restaurant for a minute. This culinary master needs to plan, organize and execute. All of their ingredients, utensils, pans, etc. are all within a short distance to eliminate steps, which ultimately saves time. Not only do they plan, they also set up routines to create a pattern. Without thinking, they are able to execute flawlessly which eliminates errors. Planning doesn’t completely eradicate errors from occurring, however, it does minimize them.

For me, in order to be successful, I need to plan daily. Every morning my alarm sounds at 7:30 a.m., whether it is a weekday, or the weekend. I immediately get the coffee brewing and I go decompress outside on my patio. As the birds chirp and the wind blows, I sip my coffee and contemplate what I need to accomplish that day. I write out a list of tasks to be completed and then re-write the list with the top priority first.

Planning helps us when distractions hit. For over 20 years I was manager of over 100 employees and dealt with thousands of clients. Imagine if I never planned my day, or taught those employees how to plan properly. My day would be completely hectic, the staff would be working against each other, and myself and the clients would never be served in a timely fashion. I set aside roughly two hours of unplanned time a day because I know the unexpected can always occur. At any given time, equipment could break down, employees may not show up, phone calls can happen, an unannounced executive might visit, etc. Being able to adjust your plan for the unexpected by setting aside this crucial time will allow you to stay focused on the matters that are most important.

I know what most of you are thinking, if I set aside over two hours each day for these interruptions that is only leaving five to six hours of planned work. Correct? In some cases, yes, however this allotted time you are setting aside is a precaution for possible distractions and will allow you to stay focused. Stress and distractions affect us in different ways. Keep a journal on stresses and distractions as they occur, and set a plan to help eliminate these. The more you can stay focused on your plan, the more successful you will be.

What happens when you become so overwhelmed that your plan unravels and your stress level takes over your concentration? Breathe…yes, just breathe. As a young child I remember that I would get overwhelmed a lot and my mom would tell me to just breathe. My anxiety would become so great that I couldn’t function, couldn’t concentrate and I was basically helpless. Come to find out, she taught me a method that doctors have been using for years. Deep breathing relieves stress and anxiety due to its physiological effect on the nervous system. Typically, setting aside five to 10 minutes a day will help you refocus if you get overwhelmed.

Plan more, work less. Our jobs are never ending. Monday through Friday, 40 hours a week or more, we strive to get it all done. Tax season hours can be especially intense. For some of us, we could spend another two hours at work instead of heading home to decompress. Planning helps you get more done in less time. Your productivity increases, your focus is sharper, work becomes more meaningful, clients are getting more attention, and your staff is more successful, making you more successful. All the while you are able to walk out the door each day to spend more time with the ones that matter most.

The greatest business leaders don’t allow fate to decide how successful their business is going to be. They plan, figure out how to execute their plan, learn through their mistakes and ultimately turn their plan into reality. How will you plan the success of your business?


About the Author:  Tim is an Accounting Practice Intermediary and the newest member at Poe Group Advisors. When he isn’t at the office you can find him at the local gym (HYLO Fitness) taking high intensity workouts and yoga, running, reading and spending time at home with his wife, dog and two cats.


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