Do you ever feel overwhelmed by an overflowing email inbox, looming client deadlines, and a list of tasks that never seems to end? Anyone working in an accounting firm knows the demands of handling high workloads. It's easy to become disheartened when looking at your huge to-do lists and wonder how it will all get done.
However, it's possible to manage and prioritize your goals, tasks and any other priorities or emergencies that might pop up during your day. So let's discuss some top tips for managing your workload efficiently so you can take on even more challenges feeling energized rather than exhausted.
Communicate with your team members
At Boomer Consulting, we have weekly sales meetings where we discuss what we're working on. We leave those meetings with a list of due-outs, and this communication with our team is beneficial for ensuring we know what tasks take priority.
Open and ongoing dialogue with your team members is the first step in managing your workload effectively. Sharing your due-outs with your manager allows for collaborative problem-solving, enabling you to identify potential bottlenecks or conflicts in your task schedule. They can provide new perspectives, suggest alternative solutions or even offer to take on some of your tasks if their workload allows.
Getting insights from your team members also helps you prioritize your tasks based on urgency and importance. This way, you're not just working hard; you're working smart. Remember, productivity isn't about doing more things—it's about doing the right things.
Take time to plan your work
Another crucial step in mastering your workload is taking the time to plan it. Start each week with an overview of what needs to be achieved and break it down into manageable daily tasks. This approach offers a clear vision of the week ahead, helping you to allocate your time effectively and avoid the stress of last-minute rushes.
At the end of each workday, take a few minutes to plan the next day. Reflect on what you accomplished that day and identify the top three things you need to get done the next day. While taking time to plan might seem like a waste of precious minutes when dealing with a heavy workload, this daily planning gives you a head start the following morning and allows you to start each day with a sense of purpose and direction.
By mapping out your tasks in advance, you better understand your workload and can allocate your time more effectively. It helps you stay focused, manage your time better and increase your productivity.
Use project management tools
It's common for accounting firms to have a workflow solution to manage client engagements, but it's equally important to have a system for non-client-related tasks. These tasks might include:
Preparing for a team meeting
Evaluating a new software solution
Planning, registering for and completing CPE or professional development
Writing a blog for the firm's website
Sending a proposal to a prospect
Completing performance evaluations for your direct reports
These types of tasks are easy to put on the back burner when you're busy serving clients, but they're crucial to the smooth operation of the firm.
Having an organized workflow system for non-client tasks creates a structured environment that minimizes the chance of tasks falling through the cracks. These tools allow you to assign tasks, set deadlines, and monitor real-time progress. This visibility makes it easier to manage your workload and facilitates better teamwork and coordination.
At Boomer Consulting, we use Asana. But several other options are available, including Monday.com, Trello, ClickUp and others.
Make time for strategic thinking
Once a month, I think strategically about what I want to accomplish, which prospects I want to connect with, etc.
Strategic thinking is an invaluable asset when managing a heavy workload. Despite our natural tendency to dive straight into tasks, setting aside time for strategic thinking allows us to see the bigger picture, align daily tasks with long-term objectives and identify potential challenges or opportunities ahead.
When you engage in strategic thinking, you shift your focus from immediate tasks to the broader goals of your work. This allows you to prioritize tasks more effectively, focusing on the initiatives that drive the most value for your firm.
Instead of reacting to situations as they arise, you anticipate and plan for the future.
Remember, being busy does not always equate to being productive. Taking time to communicate with your team, plan your weeks and days and think strategically about what you want to accomplish doesn't take away from the time you have available to work—it multiplies it. When you get all those tasks and to-dos out of your head and into a project management solution, you'll have more mental capacity to focus on your work instead of worrying about what you're missing.
All of these tools and strategies can help you manage a heavy workload. Though it may not seem like it at first, it's essential to take the necessary steps to plan and prioritize your tasks ahead of time. Don't forget to give yourself a break, too! Taking time away from the office can be refreshing and help you come back to work with new ideas and approaches to tackle upcoming projects. You'll be managing your heavy workload in no time.
Could your firm benefit from getting firm management and IT leaders in alignment?
The Boomer Technology Circles are a peer group of firm and technology leaders in the accounting profession who benefit from aligning IT and firm strategy and building valuable long-term relationships with solution providers and peers. Apply now to start building confidence in your firm's technology decisions.
Parker Bohon, Solutions Advisor at Boomer Consulting, Inc., is excited to work closely with our members. Her primary focus is on our communities, including the Boomer Technology Circles, CIO Circle, and Marketing and Business Development Circle.