It’s that time of year again. Whether it’s due to the shorter days, added holiday commitments or the approaching year-end, we all feel the stress of trying to get everything done. Often, more pressure comes from trying to complete the projects we said we’d finish this year, especially if we haven’t started them yet. Accounting firms experience their own time-crunch when trying to accomplish the marketing goals that were set at the beginning of the year. Here are some tips to better manage your time and feel less stressed as you approach your year-end.
As part of creating a marketing plan, we coach our clients to set measurable goals related to marketing efforts. We’re happy to see firms creating growth and marketing goals; however, the true test of success is recognizing if you’ll meet your goals, and if you won’t, how you manage your response. If you know you aren’t on track to complete a goal, we recommend setting realistic expectations about what you will actually be able to complete in the last few weeks of the year. For example, if you set a goal to meet with at least 50 new prospects by December 31, and you’ve only met with 20, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to schedule 30 new meetings in just a few short weeks. However, you shouldn’t completely give up working toward your goals. Rather, you should determine what steps you can reasonably take. And if you haven’t started a project at all, instead of launching into a large project in December, consider the next tip on getting started in the New Year.
- Adjust commitments for the new marketing year.
In our article, A Time to Reflect: 3 Year-End Steps for Marketing at Your Firm, we share tips for measurement, analysis and recognition of your marketing accomplishments as part of your year-end planning process. This is also the time to calculate the time needed for success in the goals for next year and to make the necessary adjustments. Do you need to reduce the total number of projects? Or do you need to reduce the time spent at networking events? Perhaps the firm would benefit from getting more people involved in certain goals where tasks can be shared. Understanding how to maximize your time will help you get closer to achieving your marketing goals for the following year.
- Leverage tools for prioritizing your time.
There are dozens of great books and advice columns out there about managing time. I often ask clients and friends what they use to prioritize their time and manage projects. The key to successful time management is picking the combination of ideas that work well for you. For me, one tool that works very well is Eat That Frog, Brian Tracy’s concept of overcoming procrastination. He shares tips for doing large projects at your strongest time of the day and before getting bogged down in smaller tasks. Another tool I use regularly is the time-management matrix introduced in Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The idea is to “put first things first” by prioritizing projects by urgency and importance.
With a proper perspective and realistic expectations, you’ll be able to better manage the stress that comes at the end of the year. And by learning from year-end pressure, you’ll be better equipped to proactively manage your time and reduce stress in the New Year.