Time waits for no one.
As any seasoned auditor can attest, making sense of a sea of figures during a busy season is no easy feat. Every second and rand counts and mistakes can be costly. Here at RAiN Chartered Accountants, we know all too well that when it rains, it pours.
When you’re juggling deadlines, meetings, and reports, it’s easy to feel like you’re caught in a whirlwind. Even when you try your best to manage your schedule efficiently, you can still feel drenched in work. Last-minute events, such as impromptu meetings or conference calls, can quickly disrupt your carefully scheduled day. Before you know it, your once steaming hot coffee has gone cold, and an hour lost to unexpected interruptions has slipped by in no time.
It’s time to make time work for you.
As #RAiNMakers, we prioritise proactive time management, particularly during busy seasons. Lenske Höll, the Head of External Audit at RAiN Chartered Accountants, emphasises the importance of adopting a different approach to time management during busy periods. By adopting a different mindset, you can improve your productivity, and efficiency, and ultimately achieve greater success in your work.
This article focuses on how to think different about time management during busy seasons of life. Whether it’s a time of change, transition, or simply a hectic period, the strategies discussed here can help you make the most of your time.
A busy period is a growth opportunity.
As the head of a large department within RAiN Chartered Accountants, Höll believes that one should realise that a busy period is not a burden but rather an opportunity to approach it differently. Her approach is strategic and straightforward:
Are you staying busy or building a buffer?
Are you a chronic paper sorter, or a frantic hamster desperately spinning its wheel? We can all relate to this to some extent or have at least once been caught in the trap of being busy.
Being constantly busy with different tasks or activities does not necessarily mean that you are making progress in your work or that you are managing your time effectively. Instead, a person who is truly productive is someone who is focused. This means doing one thing at a time, doing it well, and then finishing it.
Höll understands the crucial difference between being busy and being productive. While being busy can quickly lead to burnout, productivity can lead to a sense of fulfilment when you achieve your goals. Being merely busy can also trap you in the ineffective practice of multitasking, which can significantly harm your work performance and increase stress levels.
Do you find yourself struggling to manage your time effectively? Just 10-12 minutes of planning your daily tasks can save you almost two hours in the long run! Here are a few interesting (maybe uncomfortable) statistics that might make you think different about how you manage your time:
Improve your potential profit margin by budgeting smarter from the outset and investing time in tasks that can reward you in the future. By doing so, you can build a better buffer that allows you to handle unforeseen situations without derailing your entire workload. Additionally, this approach can save you time or even help you gain time by tackling the long list of tasks that await you.
Your perspective on time is crucial. Consider how the projects, responsibilities, and goals you tackle now will either benefit or impede you in the future.
Get a system that works.
In this industry, as in most others, time is always a crucial factor. As deadlines approach and numbers swim before your eyes on the screen, there is limited time available to learn new time management systems. In a team environment, without a system in place to keep everyone on the same page, time management can quickly become chaotic.
As the Head of External Audit, Höll has a considerable number of people reporting to her. “At RAiN, we place great value on individuality and encourage each person to take ownership of their systems, whether it is a book to keep daily lists up to date (adding some colour-coding can brighten up any audit!) or the latest application recently loaded on the market.”
RAiN operates in large teams located in different offices throughout the country. Therefore, team members are encouraged to use an automated (electronic) time management system for the final round of planning. According to Höll, this system is an incredibly effective way to plan out the day as it offers a direct link to emails. Specific tasks are assigned to colleagues and are simultaneously linked directly to the projects that you are working on. More traditional or modern – MANAGE YOUR TIME BEFORE IT MANAGES YOU.
Times are changing – plan for it.
RAiN is a place where umbrellas and raincoats are always ready for the constantly changing times (and storms) in the industry. It is an environment where things change regularly, and innovative mindsets flourish. This is precisely why RAiN fosters an organisational culture in which everyone understands that change is not necessarily a crisis – it’s how you react to it which determines success or failure. Höll believes that such a mindset prepares their team for any type of change, even those that are unexpected or unplanned during the busy season.
“In our project management team, we prioritise swift resolution of any issues that arise. Rather than ignoring or delaying smaller problems, we address them head-on to ensure they don’t escalate into larger issues. By doing so, we position ourselves for success and ensure the project runs smoothly.”
Take the time to plan from the outset and create a buffer to handle the unexpected, so that you can approach your work with confidence and proactively. Making time can be the difference between a stressful, overwhelming experience and an effective, productive one.
And, just in case your coffee isn’t ready yet, have a look at this short TED-Ed talk for a different perspective on time management:
During calmer times, time management can either be your best friend or your worst enemy – it all depends on how you approach it.