It’s important to have the right systems and processes in place, ones that can ensure everyone stays on top of deadlines and work is getting done consistently and accurately.
We’re going to walk you through nine tips to help you make sense of your accounting workload.
1. Start Small and Build From There
Getting organized is a process. It won’t happen overnight, and your team must adjust to new systems. If you want your changes to be sustainable, start small and build from there. Focus on one thing, and work your way down the list of things you want to get organized. Keeping it as simple as possible will help lead to lasting results.
Create a List of Everything You Want to Organize
Don’t dive into the process blindly. Sit down and create a list of everything you want to organize. Remember that this is an ongoing process. But having a list will help you see the big picture and set more realistic goals and timelines.
Pick One Thing to Organize
Take a good look at your list and pick one thing to get organized. This could be your client file sharing, workflow, client communications, or even your electronic filing system.
It may be helpful to start with something that’s a high priority. For example, if your monthly bookkeeping workload is a mess and makes your days longer than they need to be, focusing on that will help free up valuable time. Another option is to start with the simplest item on your list and work your way up to things that will be more complicated and time-consuming to organize. It doesn’t really matter what you start with as long as you get started.
Set a Goal and Create a Plan
Now that you’ve chosen something to focus on, set a goal and create a plan.
- Create a timeline
- Set realistic deadlines
- Make sure that your plan is sustainable
- Set milestones
Focusing on one thing at a time and building on your processes can help you make lasting changes so that you stay organized.
2. Use Graphics and Colors
Whenever possible, use graphics and colors to keep things organized. Our brains process visual information 60,000 times faster than text, so creating a color-coded system can help you quickly find what you need.
- Color-code your calendar. Set colors for different types of appointments on your calendar.
- Customize your apps or software with company logos to find them quickly and easily.
- Use colors to establish priority so essential tasks or appointments are never overlooked.
There are so many ways to use colors and graphics to keep appointments and tasks organized. Create a system that works well for you and your team so that you save time and never miss priority tasks.
3. Use Subfolders, Bookmarks and Tags
Finding client files can be a time sink if you don’t have an organized system in place. There’s a good chance that clients have dozens of different documents, and you need a quick and easy way to access them when needed.
To keep client files organized and easily accessible:
- Create subfolders to categorize and organize files in a cloud drive (Google Drive, Dropbox) so you can have any time anywhere access. For example, you may have a client folder structure that looks like this: Clients > Client Name > Year > Bank Statements.
- Use bookmarks and tags for quick and easy access to files and websites you regularly visit.
Apps like Client Hub put all of your documents and files in one easily-accessible location. Platforms such as these can take the guesswork and time out of organizing your documents.
4. Stick to the Process
Getting organized is a process that requires time and consistency. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it thing. To succeed, you have to stick with it.
Repeat the process every day or as often as you need to make your new processes and systems a habit. Once these changes become part of your routine, they will become second nature. Consistency and repetition lead to lasting changes.
5. Set Priorities
Prioritize projects, tasks, and processes by urgency, and make sure that you and your team focus on these tasks first. Implement a system to flag these things as top priorities so they aren’t overlooked.
Scrambling to complete tasks by the deadline will only make life more stressful for everyone. Color-coded systems, project management tools, and applications can help prioritize tasks. Client Hub, for example, allows you to set due dates and flag something as urgent.
6. Break Work Down Into Mini Chunks
When it comes to completing a project or task on time, it’s often better to break it down into smaller chunks. For example, If your monthly bookkeeping consists of weekly account update; bi-weekly payroll; and monthly reconciliation, create three separate tasks/ or jobs.
Breaking down a project into smaller tasks will make it easier to complete it gradually over time. Taking this approach makes the process less stressful and allows your team to work on multiple projects at once easily. Completing tasks gives you and your team a sense of accomplishment, which makes everyone feel more inspired to continue on. Proper planning and prioritization will ensure that projects are completed by their deadlines.
7. Set Follow-Ups
Whenever you complete a task, set up the appropriate follow-ups right then and there so that it doesn’t slip your mind. For example, schedule follow-up emails with clients after X number of days if they don’t respond. Your mind and future self will thank you for it later.
8. Know Your Limits
Balance is the key to success with anything in life, and that includes both your work and organization goals. It’s tempting to continue piling on more projects and taking on more clients in the pursuit of growth, but biting off more than you can chew will only make life harder for everyone at your firm.
Know your limits, and don’t be afraid to say “no.” When it comes to your organizing process, don’t make more changes than you can handle at once. Take it slow and build on your progress.
9. Stay Accountable
When implementing new processes and systems, hold yourself accountable. Create and stick to your daily schedule. Set alarms and reminders to stay on track. Make sure that your team is on board and holding each other accountable as well.
The Bottom Line
As an accountant, it’s important to be organized. Without the right systems and processes in place, it’s easy to miss deadlines, neglect clients, make working conditions difficult for you and your employees, and take on more work than your firm can handle. Use the tips above to start getting organized one step at a time.