An ongoing protest I get from colleagues is that they do not have enough time to get everything done. Time management is a personal issue and it is hard to tell someone what they should or should not do. A suggestion to help you better manage your time is to review what you do and how much time you really have to work on what is essential.
To assist you, I have prepared a template accounting for the total days in the year and how they might be spent. What I did was account for the 365 days in the year and allocated the things that I must do (such as sleep) and things I might need to do, such as marketing and some optional things such as vacations and spending time with my family.
I chose categories that I feel are typical and relate to me, but I did not personalize it. For example, I left off writing articles (and books), presenting webinars and teaching college courses as an adjunct professor. I also spend more time on social media than I would like to admit, and a lot of time interacting with colleagues who call me with practice management questions. Each reader will have different ways they spend their time. You should not simply accept my grid, but use your own tasks and time. However, the template can easily be altered.
One thing this template shows is there might not be as much time available to spend on client work as you might believe, or feel is reasonable. I think this template is much more useful for an owner, partner controller, or CFO than a staff person. It is probably less useful for entry-level staff who have much less leeway or fewer choices on what they work and are expected to spend substantial budgeted time on client services. However, I believe it would be effective for anyone at any level in any type of position. Further, it creates a model of what can be expected as they rise through the ranks.
The categories of work that I listed are as follows:
- Travel to/from office, clients or meetings;
- CPE hours;
- Learning, research and technical update and journals;
- Reading news sources;
- Social media;
- Calls, texts and emails to clients and scheduling meetings;
- Talking and discussions with partners, staff and colleagues;
- MBWA (managing by walking around) time with staff;
- Running and managing your practice, including administrative duties;
- Partner meetings and retreats;
- Training, assigning and grooming staff;
- Marketing activities;
- New client proposals;
- Society and professional networking activities; and
- Personal development.
If you want, I will email you the Excel template along with reprints of a few columns I wrote on time management if you email me at GoodiesFromEd@withum.com and just put Time Template as the subject. No messages necessary.
Do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your practice management questions or about engagements you might not be able to perform.
Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People list. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” He also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. He is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where he shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. He welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 743-4582 or email@example.com.