The art of good time-keeping

Articles people and clocks at dusk

To be on time conveys far more than just a good sense of timing. It tells colleagues and employers that you are on top of things, organised, that you can be counted on, that you value them, and, ultimately, that you value yourself.

Time-keeping as an accountant is essential, with deadlines that are often mandatory, while failure to meet these can have a legal or financial impact on the business.

Working in practice where time billing is applied, time management is also important to ensure clients are charged accurate fees based on working time.

If your colleagues and manager know they can rely on you, they will trust you to deliver and are likely to give you more responsibility. But constantly missing deadlines or falling behind with tasks could hinder your career progression opportunities.

Positive impression

Showing up late to an interview, meeting or work will likely leave you feeling flustered and being late doesn’t set a good impression to a potential employer or your manager.

Being organised and writing lists, ticking tasks off as they are completed, is just one of the ways you can proactively try to manage your time better.

Lee Owen, senior business director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, says: ‘Once you have mastered essential organisation skills, the key thing is learning how to prioritise.

‘Set goals for the day and, if needed, prioritise larger or more daunting tasks first as the sense of achievement from doing so could help sustain your energy and productivity for the rest of the day. If you really struggle with elements of time management, you could keep a record each day of which tasks are taking you the longest, and why.’

Discuss improvements

If you find there is an element of your day or a task that is taking longer than it should, it would make sense to sit down with your manager or a mentor, if you have one, to discuss how you can improve, which should reflect positively on your ability to manage your time in the future.

Most employers are prepared to be flexible and each environment has its own rules on timekeeping. Find out what they are and stick to them. You want to send the message that you are willing to go the extra mile to meet company goals.

Someone who shows repeatedly that they are a master of their own punctuality is someone who will be taken seriously in areas far removed from time management.

That foresight and adaptability that gets you where you need to be, when you need to be there, tells the people around you that you can handle whatever is thrown at you.

Conversely, people assume that if the chronically late person cannot factor in the possibility of a little extra traffic, they won’t be able to consider other obstacles that might stand in the way of getting a project or task done.

This article was first published in the November 2018 edition of Student Accountant magazine

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