Time Management Essentials for Busy CPAs
Juggling tight deadlines, ever-changing regulations, finicky clients—it’s all in a day’s work for CPAs. With such a demanding profession, strong time management skills are absolutely critical to stay on top of your workload. This allows you to deliver high-quality work while maintaining your sanity.
In this blog, we’ll break down the unique challenges CPAs face. You’ll learn proven strategies to work smarter, not harder. We’ll also tackle common pitfalls CPAs encounter when managing their time and offer tips to course-correct. So, let’s dive in!
The Nonstop Juggling Act of a CPA’s Life
CPAs wear many hats—advisor, analyst, customer service representative—often simultaneously. Your typical day may involve:
- Poring over dense financial statements
- Providing strategic tax advice to clients
- Responding to time sensitive request
- Fielding questions from anxious clients
- Answering inquiries from staff who need your insight
It’s an intense balancing act full of complexity and unpredictability. And depending on the time of year, your workload can sharply spike (hello, tax season!), turning an already packed schedule into overdrive.
Without strong time management skills, this nonstop juggling act leads to missed deadlines, frustrated clients, costly errors, heightened anxiety, decreased job satisfaction and poor quality of life.
But there is good news: with deliberate strategies, you can effectively navigate your chaotic schedule. The key lies in working smarter using organization and efficiency-optimization techniques.
The Powerful Benefits of Time Management for CPAs
Sharpening your time management skills may sound like a lot of work, but the upsides are sure to make it well worth your time. Some of the main benefits of strong time management skills include:
1. More Tasks Accomplished in Less Time
Time management skills allow you to work deliberately on the most important tasks during your peak productivity hours. The result? You complete more high-quality work in less time.
2. Reduced Stress
By planning and organizing better, you can avoid last-minute deadline scrambles. Your workload seems far more manageable when effectively scheduled out.
3. Improved Work-Life Balance
Without strong boundaries, CPA work can easily bleeds into your personal time. Time management skills empower you to set firm boundaries without falling behind at work.
Key Time Management Strategies for CPAs
Managing an overloaded schedule is no easy feat, but several techniques can vastly improve your productivity as a CPA. Some key strategies include:
Not all tasks hold equal importance or urgency, so you must continually prioritize. The Eisenhower Matrix provides an excellent framework. Under this framework, all tasks fall into one of four categories:
- Urgent/Important: Tasks with looming deadlines tied to your critical objectives—do these now
- Not Urgent/Important: Important long-term goals without an imminent deadline— schedule these for later
- Urgent/Not Important: Tasks imposed by others with little relevance to your key goals—delegate or schedule small time slots to complete these
- Not Urgent/Not Important: Busywork—eliminate or delay these
Once you’ve prioritized your tasks, you’ll need to create a schedule that accurately reflects how long each activity takes. This means blocking time for:
- Deep work like analyzing financial statements
- Returning calls and emails
- 1:1 meetings and team check-ins
- Admin tasks
You should also build in buffer time for all those little unplanned interruptions that crop up during a workday.
You have a team for a reason, so you might as well use them! Senior partners in particular need to be excellent delegators. Tasks like confirming client details, preparing financial statement drafts, conducting research or compiling receipts can be passed on to more junior members of the firm. Just be sure to provide clear directions and check in periodically to monitor their progress.
Avoiding Common Time Management Pitfalls
With demanding clients and nonstop deadlines, even the most organized CPA occasionally falls into time management traps. Here are some common pitfalls and how to overcome them:
Break intimidating projects down into bite-sized tasks to overcome inertia. It’s also important to recognize when you tend to procrastinate and get difficult tasks scheduled proactively. You might want to get the work that you’re dreading the most done first thing in the morning—that way it’s not hanging over your head all day and slowing you down.
The desire to please clients and stand out often propels CPAs to overload themselves. Know your capacity and push back appropriately on unrealistic deadlines or additional work. As long as you communicate professionally and proactively, your clients will likely be understanding. Plus, they’ll appreciate your focus on quality.
Limit distractions by establishing “focus hours” where you’re unavailable for impromptu discussions. You can also use noise-cancelling headphones and keep notifications silenced so that your attention isn’t torn away by random pings.
As a CPA, juggling nonstop demands comes with the territory. But by honing your prioritization, scheduling and delegation skills, you can take control of your workload and bring down your stress levels.
While the tactics covered here provide a strong starting framework, they are only the beginning. The Growth Partnership offers specialized courses and learning opportunities for CPAs looking to improve their time management skills. By taking time to meet with experienced professionals, you can get relevant advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
Ready to make time management a breeze? Contact us today to learn more about your training options. Here’s to working smarter and living better through the power of time management!