View all AccuBlog

Where Does All Your Time Go?

Most of us started the year with an ambitious list of things that we wanted to accomplish and some that we needed to accomplish. We are far enough into the year to ask ourselves: How are we doing? Since self-management is a hallmark of successful individuals and organizations, let’s get started.

First, get out your list of objectives and major projects you were going to get done this year. To assess you you’re doing, you’ll need to provide an honest assessment. Are you on track? Slightly off track? Way behind?

Unfortunately, many of us tend to get behind early and never seem to catch up. The reason for this can be explained by a great question and answer that I once heard: How does a project get a year behind schedule? One day at a time.

We get behind on the projects and action plans needed to achieve our goals one day at a time, even one hour at a time. However, to avoid the unpleasant realizations of our less-than-stellar performance, we can do a few things to stay on track.\

Reconciling Your Time

As an accountant or construction management professional, you should be familiar with reconciliation as a concept. To keep your yearly goals on track, it is helpful to reconcile your time to find out where it all goes.

Start keeping a daily time diary and list all of your daily activities, including necessary tasks, meetings, time spent answering e-mail and so forth. After a few days of logging tasks in your diary, you will begin to determine where the bulk of your time is going. How much is spent on routine and necessary tasks? How much is spent on interruptions or unexpected meetings? How much is spent on the phone, the Internet, working with email? My guess is that you’ll be amazed at the amount of time you spend communicating, but not actually accomplishing.

So, what can you do about it?

Stop responding to the tyranny of trivial demands on your time. Instead, start focusing on the few targeted things you need to do each day. Some ways to stay on the right time track include:

  1. Manage your emails at certain times of the day, not as they happen
  2. Do not attend meetings unless absolutely necessary
  3. Let your staff know that, to better manage your time, your door is open, but only at certain   times of the day (not whenever they choose, but when you choose)
  4. Keep the interruptions down and block out specific periods of time to work on the important things you need to accomplish

Divide and Conquer

Another tool for accomplishing more work in less time is to harness the power of teams and collaboration. Divide your work into manageable pieces and spread them among your team to effectively conquer a growing to-do list.

Allow your team members to suggest and make improvements to the daily processes, procedures and workflows to take advantage of leveraged effort. And use the “parking lot” concept with your team for good ideas to discuss or pursue, but not at this time.

Making More Time

I used to work for someone whose standard answer for this type of dilemma was to “make more time.” While we can’t actually add more hours to our day, we can proactively manage our time to accomplish mission critical tasks first. But, since accountants tend to be perfectionists, keep in mind the following adage: “We don’t have to be perfect, just successful.”

What are you waiting for? Get something important done today!

Danny B. Parrish is President of Parrish Consulting Group, which provides a wide range of consulting and temporary services to construction companies in the areas of accounting, finance, strategic planning, marketing, human resource and information management. A former national president of CFMA, Danny is a frequent speaker at national and regional industry events. His experiences in the A/E/C & Design-Build environment have given him opportunities to serve as an advisory board member for organizations seeking outside expertise and assistance and as a consultant to insurance agencies, software enterprises and accounting firms seeking insight into the construction financial management environment. For more information, call 972-567-2381 or e-mail