A new year is a great time to plan out priorities – and ticking off big ticket goals and projects is all the easier when you can ramp up your productivity, cut through the clutter, and get in the flow. In our noisy world, that is easier said than done, which is why we’ve asked our digital community to share their simple productivity tips and tools designed to help you do more with less and prioritise what’s important – business improvement, team development, and client relationships.
7 simple tips and tools to help you free up your time and create capacity
1. Automate your repetitive process
Automating your repetitive processes is one of the simplest ways you can free up your time to focus on what’s important. “The good news is that automations don’t need to be complex to be effective,” Stan Corner, CEO of ATOmate says. “Something as simple as setting up email rules can go a long way to improving your productivity.” If you are looking for more significant productivity gains, there are a raft of processes in your accounting practice that are perfect for automation. According to Stan, the key is to look for tasks that someone is completing more than once, that contain multiple steps and people, and that have potential for human error. “Processing recurring correspondence, annual client reports, and standard document processes are perfect examples of tasks taking up a lot of time your team could be directing to practice improvement and client management projects.” Check out ATOmate to automate and reduce your ATO document processing time by 90%, and FuseDocs to automate your annual report pack collations.
2. Make things easy for clients
Creating frictionless client experiences can go a long way in improving productivity across your entire practice. Removing barriers for clients to easily interact with your business will mean less back and forth on emails or phone calls, and less time spent triaging client complaints. Creating opportunities for self-service is a great way to improve client experience with the added benefit of improving your productivity, Malcolm Ebb, Founder & Managing Director of FeeSynergy says. “Clients are often managing their affairs outside of standard office hours – so making it easy for them to engage with you on their timetable is a must,” Malcolm says. FeeSynergy Collect, a comprehensive debtor workflow management platform can help with this – giving your clients 24/7 access to their invoices in one place and providing a secure, streamlined approach for invoice payment and management.
3. Digitise your client relationship management
“These days clients expect responsiveness and crave care; good customer service should be standard, making it even more important to ensure you’re adding moments of wow to your client relationship management (CRM) program,” Stan says. Keeping track of opportunities, interests, and activities can quickly become a bit of a mess though, which is why digitising your client relationship management can be a big productivity win. Your practice management platform may have a CRM module built in, or Capsule, PipeDrive, and Salesforce are all cloud-based CRM options that allow you to simultaneously manage sales and client data. Note though, that implementing a CRM is not a project with a definitive end point – keeping data up to date, and your team engaged in utilizing the platform, will take ongoing effort that’s worth the reward.
4. Free up brain clutter
Just like computer hard drives, our brains have limited storage space which is in high demand. Where a computer will start to run slower as the memory fills up, similarly we find it harder to be productive when we are trying to keep track of lots of information. Using technology to help free up brain clutter is a great way to increase productivity and efficiency day to day, while creating space for more important information. Using tools like LastPass to manage your passwords, Trello for lists and to-dos, Papier to jot down and save quick notes, and Grammarly to take care of grammar will get those bits and pieces out of your head and make more room for what matters. Don’t get lax on security though, warns Stan, “ensure you’re utilizing two factor authentication for all web based tools, and that any extensions are credible and secure before sharing information.”
5. Build on what you’re already using
Melissa Voss, Director and Head of Client and Partner Relations at FuseWorks, says that finding opportunities to turbocharge your existing data and processes is a high impact, low effort way to improve productivity. Melissa suggests mapping out your key business processes and existing technology solutions, then searching for tools with integrations designed to help you automate or streamline the gaps. “The key here is to ensure any new solutions can build on or enhance your existing data and processes,” Melissa says. Implementing an integrated digital signature solution such as FuseSign is a good IT project that can be rolled out relatively simply, while delivering big productivity wins for your practice and your clients.
6. Turbocharge your calendar usage
When it comes to improving productivity and time management, perhaps you need look no further than your own calendar. Not only do reminders pair well with good planning but entering in non-negotiables where yourself and any others sharing your calendar can see them will help keep you on track. Specifically block out time in your week for reflection, self-care, and project work so any new tasks and meetings don’t derail your momentum and utilize tags and categories to make it easy to read at a glance when you’re on the run.
7. Switch off the screens
When we chatted to our digital community on what tips and tricks they personally utilize to stay productive, everyone agreed that switching off the screens and tactfully taking down time was just as important as firing on all cylinders during the working week. All the technology tools in the world won’t help you be more productive if you’re burnt out: set clear expectations on response times by using your out of office when you take leave and update your email signature with any standing availability instructions.