How to work smarter not harder in your finance job

financial-planning.jpgWorking smarter, not harder, is an age-old adage. If you master the concept in your accounting job, your entire working life will be easier. However, as companies are forced to get by with fewer workers, they're asking more from those still employed. While the increased productivity in jobs in finance makes companies more profitable, the greater demands on workers can leave many feeling overwhelmed, burned out and just plain de-motivated.

There is still far too much focus on efficiency, rather than effectiveness. In my opinion a concept that should have fallen out of our business models when we stopped needing to have people tied to manufacturing plants for nineteen hours a day, seven days a week. So how do you manage to work smarter instead of putting in long hours and not achieving much?

Realistic goal setting
Rather than trying to do everything at once, pick one or two key goals for each year, and be committed to those. It's much better to actually accomplish a dream than to have a vague stab at lots of different things … only to end up making very little progress.

Accumulating syndrome
We are all guilty of this to some extent as for some reason people find it hard to throw things away. Make you rule to not save any paper that you're not willing to spend time filing. If you don't file it properly, you either will forget you have it, or you won't be able to find it when you need it. That won't help, and the result is the same as if you'd thrown it out in the first place. If you are set up to scan information into your computer, be selective. If you cannot imagine a specific situation when you'd need to refer to the information again, don't scan it. Most of us save a great deal of paper we'll never use again.

Evaluate your methods.
You want to use methods in your accounting jobs that help you to be as efficient as possible. Do your work when you have no distractions surrounding you. Try to do things in one batches rather than one at a time. You want your time to be maximized as much as possible.

Stop multi-tasking
Somewhere along the way we all started believing that doing two things at the same time should double productivity. Research has proven however, that the brain does better when it's performing tasks in sequence, rather than all at once. So stop trying to multi-task and just accept it's not going to happen. Rather use your time to complete all the tasks at hand by focusing on them one at a time. You will soon find you are far more productive.

The biggest commodity currently is time, so in 2012 make sure you use your time wisely and work smarter not harder!

Image: Stuart Miles /