Accountants: How to Make the Most of Your Assistant

by Thom Tracy

3 min read

Your accounting practice is thriving so much so that you struggle to keep up. Are you using your assistant to the fullest potential? Accountants tend to hold on to many responsibilities that assistants can handle. When you do this, you essentially pay yourself a much higher rate than an assistant to do things someone else can manage. Sharing the workload with your assistant helps you survive the busy season, improve efficiency, and give yourself a better work-life balance.

Evaluate Responsibilities

What do you do all day long? Sure, you crunch numbers for your clients, but you spend your time on lots of other little tasks that take up your time. You may not even know how you’re spending all your time. Figure it out by spending a few days writing down everything you do. Are your bringing work home with you at night? Write down those tasks, too. Now, go through the list and mark the things you absolutely must handle yourself — not the things you want to handle or think you need to handle — things you need to handle for legal reasons or to ensure accuracy. Everything else on the list is fair game to assign to an assistant. Getting some of those extra time wasters off of your plate and into the hands of your assistant frees you up to focus on the more important parts of your work.

Build Trust

It’s tough to let go of certain tasks. You know how to do those tasks, and you do them well. Take your email inbox. How long do you spend sifting through the messages? When you build a trusting relationship with your assistant, you can hand off these types of tasks to spend more of your time on accounting work. Letting your assistant handle more responsibility is easier when you build a close relationship with the person. Getting to know one another’s work habits, preferences, and priorities helps, too. You also gain more trust toward the person once you realize your assistant can handle the workload. Before long, your assistant feels comfortable making decisions, prioritizing tasks, and directing the show so you can spend your time on your accounting work.

Create Systems

Effective organizational and communication systems let you maximize efficiency in the day to day tasks your assistant handles. A daily or weekly face-to-face meeting with your assistant gets you on the same page and makes communication efficient. Emailing back and forth wastes time and opens the door for miscommunication. Let your assistant come up with an efficient way to track everything you assign. A shared spreadsheet is a simple way to list each assignment and track progress. Having this master list makes it easier for your assistant to keep track of items left to do, and it lets you check in periodically. Just don’t waste your time micromanaging. Trust that your assistant can handle the workload and spend more time handling your own to-do list.

Outsource Tasks

Does your assistant have too much to handle just like you? When you’re both swimming in work, consider the help of a virtual assistant to handle some of the workload. A virtual assistant helps when needed without the expense of paying another regular salary and benefits. Work with your assistant to decide which tasks to delegate to a virtual assistant during busy times. Ideas include answering incoming phone calls, handling customer service issues, managing your social media accounts, and managing your schedule. This frees up your regular assistant to handle more pressing duties or responsibilities that require a high degree of confidentiality.Learn to release tasks to your assistant to maximize efficiency in your accounting practice. Simple systems and a level of trust in your assistant make sharing the workload easier.

References & Resources

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