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March, 2008 Tax Tip

Boost Your Productivity


All tax professionals (and their clients) are very aware of the stress and change of life style we deal with during the annual filing season.   It is incumbent upon us to boost our productivity while, at the same time, maintain our level of quality, timeliness, and patience.   Working long hours doesn’t always result in progress and productivity.  We need some intangible aids.


I recently received an e-mail article that was written for tax professionals but, in reading it, I realized that it applies to my clients and, indeed, everyone.   The article relates to boosting productivity using five simple steps and, as a slight deviation from my usual monthly tax-related tip, I wish to share its message with you and hope it will make you more productive.  Some of the information provided is paraphrased or self-written.


Perhaps more than any other business executives, non-executive employees and small business owners are victimized by many time wasters.  They try to handle too many roles, resulting in having trouble setting priorities, delegating appropriately, and finishing important projects.  Because of this they end up feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted.   Is this you?  If so, read on.  The article offers five simple tips to help boost your time management skills and improve your efficiency and effectiveness.


Have a business plan – 2008 is still very young.  Formulate a plan that reflects your short-term and longer-term objectives.  Then figure out what you need to do to achieve those goals and write a month-by-month action plan breaking out the various tasks and determine who they are to be assigned to.   Be flexible as no plan is ever cast in concrete.  Changes or events occur that make it necessary from time to time to deviate from the original plan.  However, remain headstrong about achieving your desired result.


Priorities – Establish your priorities and determine which tasks should be at the top of your list.  As a general rule tasks that relate directly to bringing in revenue should head your list.  As a tax practitioner, I attempt to follow this rule.  However, working with deadlines as I do, I must on occasion be concerned with getting a return filed on time even if it may not be as big a revenue producer as another return with a later deadline.


Delegate – Do what you do best and hand off other jobs to employees or outside sources.  Try not to get overly concerned if that person doesn’t perform a task exactly the way you would.  Just provide direction and then focus on the results rather than the methodology.  While I am a one person office, I use outside bookkeepers and other independent contractors to assist me and my clients in areas (usually non-tax) that I do not handle.


Interruptions – We all know that some interruptions are unavoidable, but many of us generate our own distractions.  If you have established a priority for a task you wish to complete on a given day, there is nothing, other than you, that says you must answer every phone call or check every 15 minutes for incoming e-mail.  Set up specific time, like late morning and late afternoon, to return phone calls or view e-mail.  No one has more room for improvement in this area than me.


Use available resources – There are many wonderful resources on the internet and there are also some outstanding web-based List Serve groups where you can share ideas with others that do what you do.  These can help to jump start your productivity by keeping you informed of new developments.  If you work alone or in a small office, this can truly broaden your horizons.



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