Using Time Management to Improve Your Accounting Abilities

Gusto Editors

Are you tired of hearing the same time management tips over and over? Have you tried every trick in the book, but still constantly feel like you’re chasing time?

Gusto is committed to helping you excel in every aspect of a business, which is why we partnered with CPE Academy to bring you this webinar led by coach Amber Setter: “How to Get Your Time Management to Thrive This Busy Season.” In it, Amber bridged her accounting industry expertise with her coaching prowess to deliver a webinar packed with new information and time-management tips you may not have heard of yet. 

Amber Setter is a consciousness coach who helps individuals and groups cultivate awareness to expand what is possible in their professional and personal lives. A natural intuitive, she brings insight and compassion to all of her offerings. She is a certified, non-practicing CPA who worked as an accounting recruiter before pursuing her coaching business.

A new understanding of how to manage time

Do a Google search on time management and you’ll come up with a wealth of information. In fact, Amber shared that her own search on this topic generated 4.4 billion results. Clearly, this is a big issue. Yet, no matter how many tips, tricks, and tools we learn, most people find that free time is elusive. 

According to Amber, poor time management is usually rooted in our traditional understanding of time as a fixed asset, rather than as an energetic currency we can invest and either gain rewards from, or incur big losses. In other words, the average person’s view of time is limited. Conversely, Amber’s approach and her perspective on time are radically different.

“Time is just not something that’s fixed. It’s not a fixed asset … it’s a currency. And just like with money, you [can] … identify opportunities where you can invest your time differently and identify techniques for improving your overall budget.”

Amber Setter

If you’re in the accounting profession, you know a thing or two about money. So how might you look at time differently if you viewed it as a currency? What are the most important, essential principles you would use in money management?

Analyzing our financial health generally involves taking a look at our spending habits,  figuring out how much money is coming in versus how much is going out, and looking at exactly what we’re spending that money on.

Man point to wait on wrist refencing the time he has to manage his projects

We can analyze time in the same way, but there’s one key difference. As Amber shared, when you have a deficit with money, you might increase your wealth by working or earning more. But we can’t do that with time, since we only get 24 hours per day. 

That means we have to consider what we’re investing those 24 hours in, and what kind of return on investment we’re getting. Naturally, if you spend time on things that elevate you, make you feel better, and help you perform better, you’re making a wise investment. On the other hand, if you’re spending time on things that drain you, that’s a poor investment. A wise investment supports your long-term time management (in addition to overall health) because it helps you perform more efficiently and show up more effectively. A poor investment is a drain on your productivity, even if it doesn’t seem that way at the time.

“When we wake up … we have $24 to spend. But it’s more than that, right? It’s our energy … The way that we can expand our time or contract our time is by paying more attention to those things that energize or deplete our energy.”

Amber Setter

This link between time and energy is key to Amber’s philosophy. 

Shifting from time scarcity to time abundance

When you start practicing new time-management skills, it’s normal to have thoughts like, “I never have enough time,” “I have too much to do,” or “It’s just one thing after another.” However, this is a disempowering stance that just affirms you’re at the mercy of time, like a hamster on a wheel. 

However, when you remember what Amber teaches—that we can look at time as an energy investment capable of producing great returns—you can see you have more control than you might realize. 

“Just like with money, money and dollars aren’t fixed. You can make investments with money that yield interest in dividends, or you can make poor investments that lose money or lose energy.”

Amber Setter

Consider that there is a return on investment for every chunk of time—or rather, energy—that you spend, and that some activities have a higher “energy” ROI than others.

Furthermore, consider the fact that energy and attention go hand-in-hand: What you give your attention (or time) to is going to affect your overall energy. The next time you’re distracted by a text, an email, or a news headline,  ask yourself: What’s my ROI if I pick my phone and react to this right now?

“When you view time as simply as measurements of hours in a day, it has you on a fixed budget, and a fixed [budget] is a scarcity mindset. … I don’t do scarcity mindsets. … I help people be the happiest, and the wealthiest, and to earn more and work less … rather than always chasing after time and reacting to not having enough of it.”

Amber Setter

Now that you understand the value of your time, it’s time to do some budgeting.

Accountant referring to google calendar to review his time set for the week

How do you prioritize your time?

As accountants, you already know that the process of looking at where your money is going can be painful. However, it’s necessary.

“When you start to have awareness of what you’re doing … You can then determine, ‘Am I operating a loss? Am I doing great? What are my yields? How’s it going for me?” And when you take that step back and look at your budget, you get to ask yourself, ‘Where can I make some changes? Where can I shore things up? Where do I need to grow things?’ And this is part of the coaching experience where we compare where things are versus where we want them to be, and then devise a plan to get there. … It’s the insight plus the action that creates results.”

Amber Setter

Here’s an activity Amber does with her clients to help them create their own time budget:

First, begin by rating the following categories in order of their importance to you, with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important.

  • Self
  • Spouse
  • Work
  • Family 
  • Friends

Now, take the 24 hours that you get in a day, and map out how much time you use for each of the following categories: 

  • Hours invested in daily living (eating, showering, cleaning)
  • Hours invested in commuting
  • Hours invested in work
  • Hours invested in taking care of children
  • Hours invested in spending time with your partner
  • Hours invested in spending time with friends and family
  • Hours invested in consuming media, such as social media, news, or web surfing
  • Hours invested in personal care (doctors, therapy, vacations, self-care)

Take your time with this exercise, and understand that it can be a challenging task for anyone to really gauge every category. If needed, put the list aside and come back to it later, after you’ve committed to being more mindful or even tracking your activities.

Once you’ve completed the exercise, you may find yourself a bit surprised at what you’ve found—but awareness is the first step on the path to change. 

Learn more about how strong time management skills can improve your accounting

Time management is crucial to professional performance and personal well-being, yet it’s notoriously elusive to so many. While tips and tools can be helpful, consider shifting the way you view time altogether. This paradigm shift can enhance your ability to manage your time more effectively.

Time isn’t a fixed commodity. It’s a resource, like money. You can apply the same principles to time that you would to your finances. Some ways that you spend your time will yield high returns energetically, while others may end up depleting you.

The first step to managing your time more efficiently is being aware of how you use it. Sitting down and mapping out where your time goes can be helpful. From there, you can allocate resources more effectively to optimize your work performance as well as your personal life.

Gusto’s mission is to create a world that empowers a better life. We understand that professional aptitude and personal fulfillment go hand in hand. Don’t forget to check out our next two articles based on the same webinar: “Enhancing Your Energy to Strengthen Your Time Management Skills” and “How to Sharpen Your Time Management Skills.”

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As a Gusto partner, you’ll also get tools to help you expand your accounting practice and offer your clients new insights, plus a free payroll subscription for your own accounting firm. Sign up today! 

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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