Take back control with these 5 organizational tips

If your firm is disorganized, you’re on the back foot.

Everything becomes more difficult when you don’t implement strategies to keep you organized and reduce the chaos.

From using your tech stack, finding process documentation, completing work, managing your team and clients, and everything in between—you’re climbing an uphill battle.

There’s general chaos to manage, plus, not knowing where to start your day, wasting time on finding the details you always need, having information swimming around in your head, and the constant fear that things are falling through the cracks either by you or your team.

It’s not a healthy, productive or successful way to lead your team, run your firm and serve your clients.

But with these essential organizational tips, you can take back control of how your firm operates, and run a streamlined, organized and efficient business.

1. Declutter your tech stack

Tech clutter is killing your company culture—it leads to problematic information silos and stifles growth.

Just like regular clutter, tech clutter is a distracting barrier that impacts your firm, as well as your own, and your team’s, productivity.

Consider reassessing your tech stack by asking yourself these questions about each app you currently use:

  • What are the benefits of it to you, your team, your firm and your clients?

  • Where and how does it add value?

  • Does it create bottlenecks?

  • Does it solve problems or does it create them?

  • Why did you choose it in the first place? What were the problems you were trying to solve?

When you scrutinize your tech stack and organize it into a high-performing aid to your day-to-day operations, your team, firm and clients will benefit from increased productivity.

Recommended reading: Selecting the right technology for the modern accounting practice

2. Optimize your physical workspace

Just like your tech stack, your physical workspace should be clutter-free, and set up in a way that makes sense to you, is comfortable, and helps to optimize your output and productivity.

If you are uncomfortable at your desk, or if you’re stressed by piles of paperwork, you’re simply not setting yourself up for success, productivity, or work-related happiness.

Regardless of where your workspace is—at home, in an office, or perhaps a hybrid of both—you need to spend time organizing it. It’s important to empower your team to do the same, so they can optimize their productivity too.

Here are some workspace optimization tips: 

  • Put an end to clutter—Commit to an end-of-day tidy, where you clear your desktops—both physical and digital.

  • Optimize your folder structures—Rethink how you store your physical and digital files into a way that makes sense for your entire team.

    Recommended reading: 3 of the best ways to organize your firm’s process documentation

  • Have a dedicated spaceWhen working from home, limit distractions and interruptions by having your own workspace.

  • Get the items you actually need—If you need a larger desk to keep up with physical client files, or an additional monitor to view more information at one time, or simply a desk drawer separator to keep your pens organized—then make the investment. Buy the items and tools you and your team need to do your jobs well.

3. Streamline your workflow

If your workflows are convoluted or confusing, you need to invest time and resources in organizing them. If not, you and your team will be wasting time on unproductive tasks and unnecessary steps, like trying to locate your workflow process documentation.

Consider the following suggestions for streamlining and organizing your workflows:

Standardize your workflows

Standardizing your firm’s workflows means taking your daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual tasks, refining them and turning them into simple, repeatable and streamlined actions.

As a result, you and your team will:

  • Save time and increase output

  • Provide a consistent service to clients

  • Reduce errors and oversights

  • Increase accountability

  • Understand and master your performance

Recommended reading: The steps to standardize your processes (plus increase efficiency and grow your accounting firm)

Document your workflows and store them in a way that makes sense

There’s no use in standardizing your workflows if you haven’t documented them and then clearly organized that documentation.

Whichever way you decide to organize your firm’s workflow documentation, your team should be able to:

  • Easily access the information they need to serve clients

  • Complete work more efficiently

  • Be more productive

  • Not waste time trying to remember next steps

  • Be easily onboarded and trained on new processes

Use a practice management system

If you don’t already use an accounting-specific practice management system, chances are you are frustrated, working inefficiently, and inadvertently letting clients and work fall through the cracks.

But practice management tools organize how your processes are set up, performed and tracked. And accounting practice management software with email integrations organize your firm’s internal and external communications as well.

Ultimately, choosing a solid, accounting-specific workflow management tool will keep you and your team organized, helping you to work efficiently, boost productivity and provide clients with true value.

Leverage expertise and experience

Your firm isn’t the only one completing each of your processes. This means other firms have already spent the time and effort on refining, standardizing and documenting their workflows and procedures.

You can find hundreds of these pre-existing workflows in the Karbon Template Library for you to use as they are, or to customize to suit your firm.

If you’re already a Karbon customer, you can instantly add them to your account. Or if you don’t use Karbon yet, you can start a 14-day trial instantly with your chosen templates added, or download the templates as .XLS spreadsheets or .PDF process maps to use however you want.

4. Schedule your workday in advance

At the end of each workday, set tomorrow up for success. Take a look at your to-do list, emails, notes, etc. and make sure you have a set of deliverables ready to complete and check-off tomorrow.

This way, you know exactly how you’ll be spending your day when you log in that morning.

This list should act as your north-star and keep you organized and on-track throughout your day.

Better yet, if you use a workflow management tool, you can visualize and plan your day, week, month, and quarter in advance to keep you truly organized.

By doing so, you’re boosting your productivity, keeping your workflow agile, and enabling visibility across your (and your team’s) workloads.

5. Get your passwords in order

Most people use one of two methods for managing their passwords:

  1. They use the same password for every site 

  2. Or they use different passwords for each site and forget which belongs to which (or do the number one password mistake and write them down)

These methods share one commonality—they’re not advised.

Rather than leaving your firm open to a security breach or relying on your memory to access critical documents and systems, consider using a tool that keeps track of your passwords for you.

Your browser’s password memory tool will not suffice. It’s simply not secure enough when you’re dealing with clients’ sensitive financial information. Think about what would happen if your computer was accessed by someone unauthorized—they would have unauthorized access to your passwords, and thus, client data.

Instead, use a solution like 1Password that securely stores all of your passwords and requires a single master password or biometric login to access.

Once you’ve securely organized your passwords, you’ll save time never having to remember, search for or reset your passwords again.

Keep your firm on track

Take back control of your day-to-day with these strategies, and enable and empower your team to do the same.

Whether it’s implementing a workflow management tool firm-wide, or something as simple as mandating the use of a secure password manager, you and your team will benefit from better organization.

And ultimately, this also benefits your clients and your firm’s future.