I’m Asim Qureshi, CEO and co-founder of Jibble.io, a leading provider of cloud-based time and attendance software. With years of experience in building software products and teams, I have a deep understanding of time tracking and productivity. Before Jibble, I served as a VP at Morgan Stanley. In this article, I’ll share 23 time tracking best practices tailored for US accountants. These practices will streamline time tracking, boost productivity, ensure accurate billing, and maintain compliance with industry regulations.
Let’s explore these invaluable practices that will revolutionize the way US accountants track their time and deliver exceptional service to clients.
This Article Covers:
- Tip 1: Have an Organized Workspace
- Tip 2: Set Goals and Schedule Your Day
- Tip 3: Take Regular Breaks
- Tip 4: Chunk Message Response Time
- Tip 5: Delegate Non-Essential Tasks
- Tip 6: Use Reliable Time Tracking Tools
- Tip 7: Track Billable and Non-billable Hours
- Tip 8: Track Overtime and Time Off
- Tip 9: Use Alternative Options for Time Entry
- Tip 10: Integrate with Accounting Software
- Tip 11: Leverage Automation
- Tip 12: Regularly Review Your Time
- Tip 13: Monitor Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Hours
- Tip 14: Maintain Client Confidentiality
- Tip 15: Cloud Storage of Time Tracking
- Tip 16: Stay Updated on Regulatory Standards
- Tip 17: Create Standardized Time Entry Practices
- Tip 18: Conduct Time Tracking Audits
- Tip 19: Allocate Time for Client Communication
- Tip 20: Track Time Spent on Each Client
- Tip 21: Track Travel Time and Expenses
- Tip 22: Maintain Accurate Records
- Tip 23: Embrace Collaboration Tools
Overview: Mastering Time Tracking for US Accountants
Now more than ever, US accountants are stretched for time. The United States is experiencing a shortage of CPAs as a result of less graduates during the Covid-19 pandemic and massive numbers of baby boomer accountants retiring. According to the CPA Journal, the number of accounting graduates has been a concern going back at least to 2016. Mastering time tracking is essential for an accountant to keep up with the demand. By implementing best practices in time tracking, accountants can streamline their workflow, improve efficiency, reduce errors and achieve greater success. In this article, we will explore 23 tailored time tracking tips specifically designed for accountants in the United States. From setting clear objectives to leveraging technology tools, these best practices will empower accountants to maximize their productivity and achieve their goals.
Time Tracking for Productive Work Habits
Tip 1: Have An Organized Workspace
To enhance productivity, it’s important to keep your workspace organized and clutter-free. Consider adding double or even triple monitors so that you can see your main programs at once, such as your accounting software, your client records, and your communications software. Integrating with cloud solutions such as Google Workspace or Microsoft One Drive can reduce your paperwork clutter. A clean and tidy environment helps you stay focused, minimizes distractions, and boosts overall efficiency.
Tip 2: Set Goals and Schedule Your Day
Instead of simply juggling tasks between appointments, accountants can benefit from establishing specific goals and separating client needs into projects. By choosing a goal framework such as SMART or OKR, accountants can effectively prioritize their work. Many people It’s also helpful to plan by preparing for the next day before leaving. This way, when you arrive, you can start working right away without feeling overwhelmed. Planning your day in advance can reduce stress and increase productivity.
“It’s easy to have an out of body experience when you’re sitting at your desk for upwards of 10 hours every day.” – Amy Vetter, CPA, former head of accounting at Xero.
Tip 3: Take Regular Breaks
To maximize productivity, divide your workday into dedicated blocks of time for various tasks and projects. It’s important to allocate enough time for breaks to recharge and stay focused. There are even specific methods for this such as the Pomodoro technique or the 52/17 rule. Regularly scheduled breaks can enhance productivity, prevent burnout, and increase on-task focus time. By incorporating these practices, you can make the most of your workday and achieve optimal results.
Tip 4: Chunk Message Response Time
It can be helpful to set aside designated times during the day to check your email, social media messages, and phone messages, you can limit distractions and maintain focus on your work. This approach helps you stay organized and ensures that these activities don’t interrupt your productivity.
Tip 5: Delegate Non-Essential Tasks
This tip can help you prioritize tasks that have the greatest impact on your goals and minimize distractions from less urgent or less important tasks. Delegating less urgent tasks to others can also be beneficial. Utilize tools like the Eisenhower matrix or the ABCDE method to determine the urgency and importance of each task. Identify tasks suitable for delegation, such as administrative work or data entry, to allocate more time to crucial accounting responsibilities that require your expertise.
“Never begin the day until it is finished on paper.” – Jim Rohn in 7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness: Power Ideas from America’s Foremost Business Philosopher
Efficient Time Tracking Techniques
Tip 6: Use Reliable Time Tracking Tools
When it comes to efficiency, investing in reliable time tracking software is a smart choice for accountants. A time clock app provides accurate time records and makes it easy to track billable hours. By utilizing such software, accountants can effectively track their time and enhance their productivity.
Tip 7: Track Billable and non-Billable Hours
Assigning specific time entries to each client allows for accurate tracking of billable hours and ensures precise client invoicing. This practice promotes transparency and builds trust with clients. Additionally, tracking and analyzing time spent on administrative tasks, training, and other non-client-related activities helps account for non-billable hours or downtime. This enables accurate measurement of productivity and optimization of workflow.
Tip 8: Track Overtime and Time Off
Accurate tracking of overtime hours and time off is vital to meet the Family and Medical Leave Act and other labor law requirements and ensure employees are fairly compensated. By implementing this practice, accounting businesses can maintain compliance and demonstrate their commitment to treating employees fairly.
Tip 9: Use Alternative Options for Time Entry
Enhance your time tracking process by utilizing user-friendly kiosks or mobile apps that feature facial recognition technology. These handy tools allow you to effortlessly track your time, whether you’re working remotely or meeting with clients. With their convenience and accuracy, you can streamline your time tracking experience and ensure precise records of your work hours.
Tip 10: Integrate with Accounting Software
By integrating time tracking apps into your workflow, you can efficiently track billable hours, reduce errors, and improve the invoicing process. Investing in fully featured time tracking software provides you with a valuable tool to effectively track your time in the field of accounting. With this software, you can ensure accurate time tracking, minimize mistakes, and streamline your accounting practice.
Tip 11: Leverage Automation
Leverage other technology to automate repetitive accounting tasks, such as generating financial reports, managing data entry, and handling marketing emails. By embracing automation tools, you can streamline your workflow, save valuable time, and allocate your efforts towards more value-added activities in the field of accounting. This not only enhances your overall productivity and efficiency but also minimizes the risk of errors, ensuring accurate financial records and effective communication with clients.
Tip 12: Regularly Review Your Time
Review and analyze your time tracking data regularly. This helps you understand how you spend your time and find ways to improve efficiency. By evaluating your data, you can identify areas to adjust and eliminate time-wasting activities. Take ownership of your time and make informed decisions to optimize your workflow. Regular evaluation and reflection enhance productivity and yield better results.
Compliance and Professional Development
Tip 13: Monitor Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Hours
Dedicate specific time labels to track hours spent on continuing professional education (CPE) activities. This includes attending seminars, webinars, or training sessions relevant to the accounting profession. Accurately tracking CPE hours ensures compliance with licensing requirements and helps you stay updated with the latest industry knowledge.
Tip 14: Maintain Client Confidentiality
Client confidentiality standards such as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Code of Professional Conduct and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Circular 230 outline protocols to use when tracking and managing time data. Safeguard client information by securely storing time tracking records and granting access only to authorized individuals. By upholding these practices, you prioritize client privacy and uphold the trust they have placed in you.
Tip 15: Cloud Storage of Time Tracking
Ensure the safety of your time tracking data by utilizing secure cloud storage solutions. Implement a reliable system that regularly backs up your time tracking data to the cloud. This precautionary measure not only protects against potential data loss or technical glitches but also ensures the integrity and accessibility of your time records.
Tip 16: Stay Updated on Regulatory Standards
Keep yourself informed about changes in US tax laws, accounting standards, and industry labor regulations. Staying up to date with these developments is essential to ensure precise time tracking and provide top-notch service to your clients. By staying informed, you can adapt your time tracking practices accordingly and maintain compliance with the latest requirements.
Tip 17: Create Standardized Time Entry Practices
Establish and maintain consistent time entry practices throughout your firm or organization. This approach ensures uniformity and makes it easier to analyze time data. By having everyone follow the same guidelines and procedures, you can streamline the time tracking process and maintain consistency across projects and teams. This consistency not only improves accuracy but also facilitates effective analysis and reporting of time data.
Tip 18: Conduct Time Tracking Audits
Regularly examine and audit your time tracking records to detect any discrepancies or mistakes across your accounting firm. This is usually done every week or according to your billing cycle. Conducting audits ensures precision and adherence to regulatory guidelines and client expectations. Strive for ongoing enhancement in your time tracking strategies.
Effective Communication and Client Management
Tip 19: Allocate Time for Client Communication
Regularly communicate time-related updates to clients, including progress reports and any adjustments to project timelines. This promotes transparency, manages client expectations, and maintains strong client relationships. Allocate time for effective communication with clients, whether through emails, phone calls, or meetings.
Tip 20: Track Time Spent on Each Client
Tracking time spent on client communication as well as actual accounting helps you manage client relationships, address queries promptly, and provide exceptional customer service. Account for time spent on research, data analysis, and preparing financial reports. Accurate time tracking in these areas helps you understand the depth of work involved and ensures you allocate sufficient time for these critical tasks
Tip 21: Track Travel Time and Expenses
If your role involves traveling for client meetings or audits, it’s important to track the time spent on travel as well as the related expenses. This practice ensures accurate reimbursement and helps you account for the time spent outside the office. By recording your travel time and expenses, you can accurately report them to your firm or clients, ensuring fair reimbursement and maintaining transparency. This also allows you to account for the time spent on travel in your overall workload and effectively manage your schedule.
Tip 22: Maintain Accurate Records
It is crucial to maintain accurate records as you go to prevent wasting time searching for information or having to backtrack to recreate lost data. By documenting your work, keeping track of important details, and organizing files properly, you can easily access and retrieve information when needed. This practice helps you stay organized, improves efficiency, and minimizes the risk of errors or omissions. By having accurate records readily available, you can save time and focus on more productive tasks, ensuring smooth workflow and avoiding unnecessary delays or frustrations.
Tip 23: Embrace Collaboration Tools
If you work in a team, it’s beneficial to utilize time tracking software that enables collaboration and allows team members to track time on shared projects. This fosters transparency and enhances effective teamwork. By using a collaborative time tracking tool, team members can easily contribute their time entries, track progress together, and ensure everyone is aligned on project timelines and deadlines. This promotes effective communication, enhances coordination, and helps the team work towards common goals. With the ability to collaborate seamlessly, team members can optimize their productivity, streamline workflows, and achieve collective success.
Final Thoughts: Embrace Time Tracking Best Practices for Accountants
Effective time tracking is essential for accountants to thrive in their profession. By implementing these 23 time tracking best practices, accountants can streamline their workflow, improve productivity, ensure accurate billing, and provide exceptional client service. Remember, mastering time tracking is a continuous journey that requires consistent effort and adjustment. Embrace these best practices and enjoy the benefits of enhanced efficiency and professional success in your accounting career. With the right time tracking strategies in place, you’ll be well-equipped to maximize your potential and achieve your goals as an accountant.