Work-life balance – design your perfect practice

Oct 24, 2022

How has this work-life balance thing been going for you?

I tell you it’s the bloody holy grail for both accounting practice owners and their clients alike, so if you can master it, imagine how popular you will be if you can share with your clients how you have managed to do it and help them master it too?

Well, I’m here to tell you that the timing has never been better. Let the new year be your impetus to start tweaking things in your practice and your life so that you can achieve a healthy work-life balance which up until now has been so elusive for you!

Sometimes it may seem impossible to achieve a work-life balance, but once you make a conscious decision and are committed to changing your ways, I promise you that you will not look back. You will have a better practice, more money, more freedom and more flexibility.

Here are my top 6 tips to get you on your way.

1. Your office workspace

Do you walk into your office with a spring in your step?

Is your workspace tidy? Could you get down to business or see a client the minute you walk in the door? Or do you need to spend 30 minutes shuffling paper trying to find what you need, clearing the desk for that meeting or do you just see your clients in another room?

January is a great time of the year to declutter your workspace. If you are hanging onto course notes or paperwork “just in case” you might need it, take the bundles out to your admin team and have them scanned. Give them instructions on where you want them filed and what you want to call them so you will be able to find them when and if the need arises.

Take that excess stationery back out to the stationery cupboards. Clean out your desk drawers, credenzas and filing cabinets.

Be ruthless and scan or shred any paperwork in there that you no longer need physical copies of.

Update your family photos and maybe your visible stationery trays and folder. Don’t be afraid to throw in a bit of colour either – it can work wonders for your energy levels!

I would encourage you to do all of this before school goes back as that is when the phones will start ringing off the hook, BAS work will be getting dropped in and you will be back into getting those 2017 tax returns completed

2. Your own financial affairs

Are you completely happy with the state of your own financial affairs? I know we have a quiet chuckle when we have our tradie clients in and their wife spins the yarn about the leaking tap, the ceiling fans that don’t work. Not for one minute would they think their accountant always lodges on the last day, has outstanding tax returns or BAS’s or has a non-existent filing system for their receipts but I bet you feel sick in the stomach when they leave.

I know exactly how you feel as I was once like that. Now I have systems in place so I am no longer chasing receipts, reconciling my accounts and preparing BAS’s at midnight on lodgement day. I scan all receipts and update my accounting file weekly and sometimes daily.

The problem is not in the preparing as we can do that in a jiffy, but it’s the fact that we don’t have or don’t use a system to keep us organised and on track. Make this and your business’s finances a priority and feel the weight fall off your shoulders.

The next thing is to ensure all of your superannuation and insurance matters are reviewed regularly and you are paying attention to and securing you and your families financial future in the same way that you so diligently do for your clients.

3. Day-to-day tasks and the type of work you are doing

Are you satisfied with your day-to-day tasks and the type of client work you are doing?

Are there tasks that you could delegate or just say no to? Don’t be a martyr and feel the need that you have to do everything yourself and offer every service possible to your clients.

If you think about it, this is the type of work that keeps us in the office after hours, on weekends and overtakes our thoughts so we can’t relax with our friends and family or take any time out for ourselves.

Delegate work to other staff members.

Provide training to your staff so they can start doing some of these tasks.

Provide training to your clients. How many times do you do tasks for clients that they probably should be doing themselves and you don’t even charge them for it?

Start saying no to the types of work that doesn’t light you up or you don’t make money from and start outsourcing or referring this type of work out.

Start concentrating on the work that you love doing, are good at doing and turns you a profit.

To gain time, you must first learn to let go.

4. Create your dream client base

Are you happy with all of your clients?

Or do you have some clients that are not respecting you, your staff and your practice’s ideals and don’t value what you do for them?

Do you need to sit down with some of your clients and revisit the scope of work you do for them, the new fee for that work and your expectations of them?

Do you need to ask some clients to move on so that you can make space for clients who will respect your ideals and value what you do for them?

Taking these problematic clients out of the equation will be a godsend for both you and your team.

And once you have a dream client base, guess what? They start to refer more clients to you just like them. You are now growing your practice with good quality, rewarding and profitable clients instead of poor quality, time-sapping and costly clients.

5. Create your dream team

Are you happy with all of your employees’ performance?

Or do you have some employees that are not respecting your practice’s ethos and systems?

Do you need to sit down with some of your employees and go through your expectations of them, your plans for 2018 and how they need to work to fit within your plans?

Ultimately having employees who are on the same wavelength as you are and that fit within your firms’ culture will help achieve a work-life balance for both you and them.

They will all look out for each other.

They will all work as a more cohesive team.

They will service your clients better.

They will be a pleasure working with and mentoring.

Perhaps schedule a team building day for February and see what comes out of it. Share your vision for your firm with them, empower them with your vision and get their suggestions on what would constitute a 2018 dream team in their eyes.

Disparities can be recognised and then you get to make the call whose in and whose out.

6. Embrace technology

Embrace technology and move your practice light years ahead and free up your valuable time in the process.

Have you and your clients embraced cloud accounting?

Have you embraced the time-saving benefits of a paperless office?

Are you automating as many tasks as possible in your office?

There is so much technology available to accounting practices these days which is why there are expos dedicated entirely to showcase just the technology available.

Now I am not saying get on board with everything, but pick a few things that tickle your fancy, set up some meeting which mostly is done online these days and prioritise what to implement in 2018 depending on your budget and your timeline.

Just remember Single Touch Payroll commences on 1 July 2018 for employers with 20 or more employees to ensure your practice is ready to implement if it applies to you and get ready so you can advise and support your clients for a successful implementation. Then its 1 July 2019 for everyone else.

7. Being true to you and your family

You owe it to yourself and your family to be happy and healthy and that is exactly what having a work-life balance will do for you.

Start the day with a healthy routine that will set you up for a good day at the office and on the weekends, a good day with your family and friends. Go for a walk, run or bike ride or anything else that will get you moving. Have a healthy, nutritious breakfast. Listen to a podcast on your commute to the office.

Once you are in the office make a start and be sure to take a lunch break. Even if it’s a working lunch with a staff member to nut out a problem. Just don’t have back to back appointments and miss lunch or a break.

Be productive and not just busy while you are in the office.

Pack up and head home at a reasonable time. I used to schedule my last appointment at 3.30 or 4 but I do remember a time in my early days in practice, I was leaving the office at 6 or 7 and my husband and school-age children were eagerly awaiting me to get home for dinner. I realised that this was unfair to them and not why I had started my own practice – I wanted the flexibility and freedom but the only ones getting the flexibility and freedom were the clients.

Whatever it is that works for you and your family DO it. Change your mindset in 2018 and use this new way of thinking as your motivation and inspiration in all that you do. If something doesn’t tick those boxes then it’s a big fat NO.  You and your family will be eternally grateful – I know mine DO.   

This is the perfect time of the year to clear the decks and say to yourself “Out with the old and in with the new.”

What changes will you make so that 2018 is one of your best years yet?

Wishing you all the luck in the world and a happy, healthy and successful year (oh and also lots of courage but if I could do it, you can too!)