In the accounting industry, time management is essential. Every minute counts. This means that you must develop time management strategies if you hope to be a successful bookkeeper. But do you know how you spend every billable hour of your working day? For most of us, the answer is no. But, if you’re not keenly aware of how you spend your work hours, you could be losing money. And lots of it.
This is why you need to track your time. Tracking your time is one of the most important time management techniques. By tracking time, you can maximize the value of every billable hour. In this blog post, we'll explore some pivotal tips that will not only help you track time more effectively but also transform the way you manage your daily to-do lists. From prioritizing your workload to leveraging the latest in time-tracking technology, here’s how to unlock the full potential of every hour in your workday.
Let’s get started.
Tip #1: Prioritize Tasks
We cannot have a serious conversation about time tracking without first discussing task prioritization. You can’t treat all of the tasks with the same level of importance because, frankly, they’re not all equal. Some tasks are money makers, others are necessary evils, and some might even be considered time sinks if not kept in check. Knowing which is which and allocating your precious hours accordingly is what sets the top-performing bookkeepers apart from the rest. By prioritizing effectively, you ensure that your most valuable asset—your time—is invested where it can generate the highest return.
Here's how to prioritize your tasks effectively:
Understand Your Responsibilities
Start by having a clear understanding of all your tasks. Write down all of your tasks in no particular order, no matter how great or small.
Identify Urgent vs. Important
Distinguish between urgent tasks and those that are important. Urgent tasks require immediate attention, while important tasks contribute to your long-term goals and missions. Use the Eisenhower Box (also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix) to categorize tasks and prioritize accordingly.
Determine which tasks have the highest value to your clients and your business. Focus on tasks that contribute most to your accounting firm’s success and profitability.
Estimate Time and Effort
Estimate the time and effort required to complete each task. This helps you plan your schedule more effectively and allocate the right amount of time to each task.
Assign deadlines, starting with your most daunting tasks first. This creates a sense of urgency.
Your priorities can change due to unforeseen circumstances. Be prepared to reassess and adjust your priorities as new information comes in or as situations change.
Focus on completing one task at a time. Multitasking can lead to mistakes and reduce the quality of your work.
Tip #2: Use Time & Billing Software
In bookkeeping, tracking every minute isn't just making sure you’re at the top of your game internally. It’s also about turning time into tangible profit. That's where Mango Practice Management steps in. Our software has built-in time-tracking features that turn this from a chore into your strategic advantage.
Imagine boosting your revenue by up to 35% just by capturing every billable moment more precisely. Mango is engineered to do just that. Our intuitive design simplifies time tracking. You can start and stop timers effortlessly with a single click wherever you are in our software. Need to pause or tweak your entries? No sweat. A swift click lets you adjust times to reflect your work accurately.
Mango’s capabilities extend beyond just timing individual tasks. Our weekly time cards feature offers a panoramic view of your entire week. Use this feature to see where your time is allocated at a glance. Or, if you’re juggling tasks for the same or multiple clients, you can use our batch time entry feature to effectively manage several records at the same time. This can streamline your workflow and save precious time.
Tip #3: Set Time Limits for Each Task
In addition to deadlines, consider adding time limits to each task. This is a great idea for recurring tasks, like client calls or returning emails. It can even work for administrative tasks. By setting time limits for your task, you can keep your workday structured and efficient. It's like setting small, achievable goals throughout the day.
Start by estimating a reasonable amount of time for each task, then try your best to stick to it. This method helps you stay focused and makes all the difference in your daily workflow. And if you don't finish within the time limit, that's okay. It's a flexible system. You can decide whether to extend your time or schedule another session for later.
Here are some practical examples of how you can set time limits for various bookkeeping tasks:
Invoice Processing - Allocate 30 minutes in the morning to process invoices. This could involve reviewing invoices received, entering them into your accounting software, and preparing them for payment.
Reconciliation Tasks - Set aside 45 minutes after lunch for bank and credit card reconciliations. This time frame allows you to methodically compare your records with bank statements and ensure that everything matches up.
Email Management - Dedicate 20 minutes, twice a day (once in the morning and once in the late afternoon), to manage and respond to emails. This way, you can prevent your inbox from becoming a constant distraction and taking over your day.
Client Meetings or Calls - Limit client meetings or calls to specific time slots, such as mid-morning (10:00 AM - 11:00 AM) or mid-afternoon (2:00 PM - 3:00 PM). This ensures that these interactions don't disrupt your most productive hours.
Tip #4: Automate Routine Tasks
It’s 2024, which means that it’s time to get serious about automation. You can start by automating your routine, low-level tasks, like invoice generation and payment reminders.
By automating such tasks, you not only free up hours in your day but also increase the profitability of your practice. Those hours that would otherwise be lost to rote work can now be redirected toward more strategic, high-value activities. Here's how embracing automation can be a game-changer for your time tracking:
Streamlined Transactions - Ensure that every entry is accurately captured. Implement software that seamlessly records bank and credit card transactions.
Effortless Invoicing - Use software that automates invoice generation and distribution, particularly for recurring billing. Mango Practice Management provides a full suite of invoice creation, including customizable templates, batch invoicing, and automated recurring invoicing.
Proactive Payment Management - Use automated reminders for client payments. This feature is built into Mango Practice Management. Automated reminders not only secure your cash flow but also reduce the time spent on follow-ups. Every reminder sent is a minute saved—a minute that can be allocated to more productive, billable work.
Simplified Expense Tracking - Make sure that every minute you spend on a task is recorded and accounted for. Use an expense tracker to automatically record transactions and manage receipts. These tools have automation features that can transform the tedious task of expense management into a smooth, time-efficient process.
Streamlined Tax Preparation - Integrate tax preparation software that pulls in data directly from your accounting systems. This automation feature makes the tax filing process smoother and the data entry more accurate.
By integrating automation into your bookkeeping practices, you're making every second count. Automation reduces your workload and improves efficiency.
Tip #5: Keep a Time Log for Non-Billable Hours
Keeping a time log for non-billable hours is essential for improving your overall productivity. You can identify various tasks or activities that consume a disproportionate amount of time. You can use this insight to re-evaluate your tasks and then seek ways to streamline them, delegate them, or automate them.
Here are some tips to effectively track your non-billable hours:
Use Dedicated Time-Tracking Software - Consistency is key. Use the same time management tool for both billable and non-billable hours to keep everything centralized and organized. If you’re searching for a quality time-tracking app, consider Mango. Mango has built-in time-tracking features in our accounting practice management software.
Set Clear Categories - Define specific categories for your non-billable tasks, such as administrative work, client communication, or professional development. This helps in analyzing how your non-billable time is distributed.
Track Time as You Go - Don’t rely on memory. Log your time immediately after a task is completed to ensure accuracy.
By effectively prioritizing tasks, utilizing robust time-tracking tools like Mango Practice Management, establishing precise time limits, automating mundane duties, and diligently logging all hours, you pave the way to success. Incorporate these time management skills and strategies into your daily routine, and your bookkeeping practice will soar. What are you waiting on? Get started with a free demo of Mango Practice Management today.
Unlock your accounting firm’s potential.
Save time, streamline workflows and get paid faster with Mango’s all-in-one Time and Billing Practice Management software.
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