As the Busy Season continually picks up speed, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by sixty hour work weeks. Besides a bottomless pot of coffee, digital video recording, and superb organizational skills, what else does it take to survive the next few months? Here are some helpful tips on how to prepare for tax season:

1. Know What Tools Are Available to You

Did you know that Google is more than just a search engine? The web service offers a huge suite of online productivity tools that can dramatically improve your workflow, and transform how you communicate and collaborate online with colleagues and clients. It’s also an online marketing channel that can be used to promote your accounting practice and even generate revenue from your website or blog. Most of the tools are free (or nearly free), easy to use, huge time and money savers, and literally right under your fingertips.

2. The Six A’s: Activity, Availability, Attention, Accessibility, Accountability, and Attitude

In this competitive economy, it pays to go the extra mile. Whether you’re a firm administrator, manager, staff or accountant, these proven methods will help to reach your maximum potential and achieve breakthrough results.

  • Activity: 20% of your activities produce 80% of your value, so where do you allocate your time and effort? Being able to prioritize and time manage gives you a sense of direction through the day.
  • Availability: Your ability to master your schedule. You can’t be available to everyone all the time, so you need to protect your time to accomplish your desired activities.
  • Attention: The capacity to focus intently and concentrate on tasks. Tax Season doesn’t leave room for distraction, so filter or tune out environmental distractions unrelated to your current task.
  • Accessibility: The ability to organize the inputs and outputs in your life. This key gives you the systems you need to locate data contained in any medium: paper, email, phone calls, contacts, Internet, etc.
  • Accountability: The extent to which you take personal responsibility for your actions and outcomes. Question processes, strive for continuous improvement, and practice self-discipline
  • Attitude: Your motivation, drive, and proactiveness. There is so much to do, and only 24 hours in a day… but that’s ok! With the right attitude and ambition,you can make those 24 hours count and enjoy the benefits of your hard work.

3. Communicate Efficiently
Today’s firm administrators, staff, and accountants spend so much time attending meetings, but few know how to plan and run them. Most meetings frustrate employees because agendas aren’t distributed, objectives aren’t defined, time runs over, and no decisions are made. Whether you are leading or attending a meeting, it is important to know how to communicate efficiently. Plan your topics ahead of time, stay focused during the meeting, and follow up afterwards.

4. Make the Most of Your Email 

It may not seem like the most obvious way to stay productive, but a lot of time is spent in Outlook. It’s more than just email; it’s a calendar, an organizer, file manager, and much more. Take advantage of what Outlook offers, and make sure that you know all of the tips and tricks to use it as efficiently as possible.

5. Become More Fluent in Excel

During the busy season, every shortcut counts. Take the time to learn keyboard shortcuts and hidden menus in order to blaze through your work, and familiarize yourself with the different functions of Excel.

6. Utilize Excel Charts

Tired of wasting time trying to tweak and automate your charts? Look up workarounds for charting features that became deprecated in Excel 2007, or how to replicate things from Excel 2010 in Excel 2007. It will save you time (And a headache) in the end.

7. Learn Visual Basic for Applications in Excel

Visual Basic for Applications is one of the most powerful features in Excel. Use Excel’s Macro Recorder to automate simple tasks such as cleaning up an accounting report file and formatting a list of phone numbers consistently.

To learn more about the tips and tools to staying productive, check out our Productivity Bundle at CPE Link.