11 Ways to Be More Efficient During Tax Season
Tax office owners and tax preparers know all too well that preparing for tax season can be, well… Taxing! We work the long hours just like you. Here are 11 tips that we try to adopt in our office to help stay at our best during the busy time!
Get Enough Sleep
Aside from affecting your mood and judgment, a lack of sleep can manifest itself in reduced efficiency and productivity through errors and accidents that must be redone. The Mayo Clinic indicates that typical adults require approximately 7 hours of sleep to allow for top mental performance. Don’t cut yourself short in efforts to get ahead. Make sure to get enough sleep to focus on working more efficiently and avoiding costly errors.
Eat Healthy Food
Preparing for tax season starts with a healthy mind and body. As the old saying goes, “You are what you eat.” From personal experience, I can tell you that solely eating pizza rolls and hot pockets throughout tax season for convenience will leave you feeling like garbage and does nothing for overall general health either. Eat real food and snack on healthier alternatives to get those much need nutrients that will keep you going. 12 hour days need fuel.
Don’t Let Paperwork Build Up
At the end of a 12 hour day or 70 hour work week, no one wants to deal with a stack of papers that all need to be scanned, labeled and filed. Try working more efficiently by organizing your time and tasks. Do your paperwork scanning, labeling, and filing as you go or set specific times to catch up. For example, you could do all morning paperwork after lunch and then you’d have half as much at the end of the night. If you have a tax season assistant, don’t be afraid to delegate. Show them the ropes, be specific and detailed in what you want done and how you want it done and get on to more valuable tasks with your time.
One easy way to avoid paperwork buildup is by not having paper at all. If you switch to all digital tax technology, requiring a signature tablet, a scanner, and a good pdf program, you will be able to avoid the pile of papers. Preparing for tax season still requires you to label and file your documents, but it’ll be far less messy and the long run benefits make this a no-brainer.
Avoid Time Wasting Sites
More than a few websites will make a dent in your efficiency, but they might also cause a dent in your wallet. One way to keep working more efficiently is to avoid shopping websites and especially bidding websites. Facebook is more of a news source for most people these days, but it can still lead you down a time-wasting spiral. You tube is good for a quick break. You can pick a video that is the length of your break. After it’s over, get back to it!
Delegate Office Responsibility Early
If you have a small office and tasks need done regularly, delegate tasks out early so there is no question about who is responsible for that task getting done. Successfully preparing for tax season involves proper delegation. For example, if you don’t have office janitorial services, determine who will do preform the task and hold them accountable. Have all necessary tasks delegated out before tax season begins to avoid confusion and to properly recognize jobs well done.
Set and Keep Appointments
Use a calendar that is integrated with your email. Send, accept, or decline invites via email without having to go back and forth from your email and calendar. There are applications that allow your clients to set appointments on your calendar as well, which can go a long way. A streamlined tax preparation appointment scheduling process will definitely keep you working more efficiently.
Prioritize Daily Tasks
While preparing for tax season, make a list of your to-dos. Write them down! Tax Season in notorious for multitasking and impromptu issues that come up and demand attention. Rank them by order of importance and time requirements. Knock out the easy and quick stuff early so you can save more time for the big tasks without feeling like you have a million things to do.
Make Use of IRS Hold Time
If you must call the IRS, you can expect long wait times and possibly a “courtesy disconnect”. The latter is a polite way of saying that the IRS will just hang up on you and you’ll have to call back. This has happened to me numerous times after holding for over an hour! Don’t let that waste your time. It’s an opportunity to keep working more efficiently. This is a great time to knock out some of those remaining tasks on your to-do list.
Schedule “Productivity Time”
Like so many of us, you might be wondering how to be more productive working from home. When are you most productive? Is it after lunch, before lunch? Whenever you are the most productive, set that time aside daily and, if possible, take precaution to prevent disruptions or distractions. Appropriate “productivity time” is very important while preparing for tax season.
Utilize Your Home Office
Tax season doesn’t lend itself to much “free” time, but if you have a home office, there is no reason that you can’t take some work home and finish out that 12 hour day in your own home and possibly maximize any small bit of said “free time”. Most tax software platforms are now available online and allow for access from anywhere with valid security credentials. You don’t need to have a spare room or dedicated formal office to be working more efficiently, and this option can even potentially net you a deduction on your own tax return! Go ahead, finish that return in your jammies. We won’t tell.
Posted: July 7, 2016