Feeling tired at work? Can’t seem to get things done by the end of the day despite spending most of your time on your desk? Are you constantly trying to beat deadlines and can’t understand why you’re always behind?
The secret to being productive at work isn’t burying yourself in work or spending more than 8 hours at the office. All you need to do is master a few accounting concepts, which most people disregard that will help you become more effective at what you do. Here are 5 of them:
Take down notes
Taking down notes is one of the best ways to retain information. Simply relying on your memory might not suffice unless you have a photographic memory. Chances are, the idea or information you just learned will fly out of your mind even before you leave the room.
Having a pen and notebook handy will ensure you don’t forget anything. Jotting down information, according to Dr. Stephanie A. Burns, is an effective way of transferring new facts from short-term memory to long-term memory. According to her article, it’s a “means for stimulating or refreshing your memory of information you want to remember.”
Even Virgin’s Richard Branson stands by the magic of note-taking. In a LinkedIn article, he talked about how Virgin’s most successful companies sprouted from random moments–instances where team members took out their pen to write their ideas down.
He encourages everyone to get everything in writing, regardless of how big or small or complex your ideas are. You can use these to come up with measurable goals.
So how do you ensure taking down notes works to your advantage? Remember that simply writing ideas down won’t work because you need to refer back to them at a later time. But it’s very likely that you’re going to forget, especially if your notes are plain. This is why you have to utilise a certain method that will make your notes stand out:
- Use coloured markers
- Use different font sizes
- Use pictures and/or symbols
- Don’t just settle with linear writing
Schedule and stick to your calendar
Your calendar is one of two things that will help you become productive at work (the other being your to-do list). Your to-do list tells you what you need to accomplish while your calendar tells you when to complete these tasks.
Sticking to your calendar–religiously–will help you get more work done because it tells you not only when a certain item needs to be done but how much time you need to spend on a task. This will help you efficiently plan out your day. Additionally, you will be able to remove distractions because you are aware of the limited time you have in completing a certain task.
It is vital to have your day planned out well. Plan even your weekends. Make sure to plan way ahead. That way, you know exactly what you need to accomplish. Our CEO Nick Sinclair has mastered the art of scheduling and sticking to his calendar for improved productivity. You can learn some tips here.
Step out of your station for a few minutes
Let’s face it: most of you would love to take a break right at this moment but are scared of looking unproductive. Well, here’s the thing: there’s no reason to feel guilty about going on a break regardless of how long your to-do list is.
Taking a break can help you become more focused, productive, and eventually happier at work. It may seem counterintuitive for some but it really is essential in staying productive. In fact, there is a science to taking breaks. An article published by FastCompany.com said that going on breaks will help you:
- Avoid getting bored
- Retain information
- Re-evaluate your goals
Should you feel guilty each time you step away from your computer? Definitely not. In fact, many employers encourage this. A survey conducted by Staples showed that despite employers encouraging their staff to go on breaks, 66% of employees feel guilty about doing so.
Not taking breaks doesn’t mean you become more productive. Here are some ways to help you squeeze in those down times between your hectic day:
- Pomodoro method: this method created by Francesco Cirillo helps you avoid procrastination by working for 4 25-minute work periods (called pomodoro). Once the 100 minutes are finished, you then take a break for 15-20 minutes.
- 90-minute work blocks : various scientific evidence point to the importance of “unplugging” to help you perform well. Several experts discovered that 90-minute work cycles work because the brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it will need to take a rest.
- Take two 15-minute breaks each day: studies have shown that sporadic breaks help us replenish our energy, improve productivity, and improve decision-making skills. Breaks help make us sharper and more creative.
What do you during your breaks? You can go for a quick walk, eat, drink coffee, draw, take a nap, talk to your office mates, meditate or listen to music.
The demands of the job can be too much especially during tax season and it wouldn’t be too surprising if you end up pushing yourself to the limit. One of the important habits every accountant needs to have is getting enough rest.
Just like taking breaks, some may think this is counterintuitive — it’s not.
When you rest, you allow your body to re-energise itself. To do more work, we need more energy. This is why you need to take naps and vacations. A study conducted at the University of California discovered that getting 60 to 90 minutes of nap time can significantly improve memory. Similarly, night shift air traffic controllers who get 40 minutes of shut eye performed a lot better on tests for vigilance and reaction time.
Vacations, meanwhile, are great for productivity. If short breaks help us become more productive, it follows that longer breaks will make us even more productive. It is, according to an article in TheAtlantic.com, beneficial in replenishing job performance.
Delegate to free up time
Delegating tasks is one good way to share with your subordinates. Usually, managers do this when the workload gets beyond his or her capacity. Allocating tasks helps free up time so you can focus on important areas of the business like planning and business analysis.
Entrusting certain tasks to your staff can also be a good sign of trust. You’re sending the message that you are confident in their abilities to accomplish things. More than that, delegating responsibilities can help you reduce the risk of burnout and boost your team’s morale.
Not sure how to do it well? Here are some tips:
- Be clear on what you need your team to do
- Describe how you’re going to evaluate your team’s performance
- Give your team the authority necessary to complete the tasks
- Create a system that will reward outstanding performance
- Immediately address any problem that arise
- Check your team’s work
Integrating these to your daily routine may take some time and it will take conscious effort but the payoffs are definitely going to be worth it.