It's Sunday night. You have a vague sense that it's going to be a horrendous week. One more glass of wine, a promise to get an early start tomorrow and just like that, you've set yourself up for failure. We all want to get to Friday afternoon and look back over an incredibly productive five days. But without some groundwork it's not going to happen.
Most CPAs, and especially those doing consulting work, have such a varied weekly schedule that starting Monday without a plan is productivity suicide. There may be no such thing as a routine week, or a standard daily workflow. That's why a successful week starts days or weeks in advance of Monday.
Step one is thinking about what your ideal week should look like. On what days should you see clients and on what days are you better off sitting behind a desk? Are you more productive in the mornings or the afternoons? Are there standing appointments that should be on the books weeks or months in advance? A template of your ideal week is one of the most effective tools for gaining productivity. It should include large blocks of time for appointment scheduling, head down work, administrative tasks, business development, etc.
Step two is to get some help. Sit down with your executive assistant and other members of your team and ask them for help. Show them your ideal week template. Ask for feedback. Hone it. Refine it. Then ask for everyone's help in sticking to it. Make sure the people who book your appointments know when they should book them. Make sure they know your preferences for grouping appointments on a single day, if that makes you more productive.
Step three is to train the people you interact with on the methods and practices that work best for your productivity. Do you want to make house calls or do you want to have people come to you? Do you want to work with people who like videoconferences or only those who want to meet face-to-face? Do you like phone calls or email better? Getting in your sweet spot from a productivity standpoint isn't so much a matter of efficiency as effectiveness. How do you work most effectively? You need to train your clients to work with you this way. Come up with a list of the 10 ways you work best. This is a great tool for new client on boarding or orientation, and it sets the tone for your future working relationship.
I am a big advocate of sitting down before the week starts and doing some proactive planning. But the truth is, you can be way more productive right out of the gate if you lay the foundation long before that first appointment on Monday morning.