When was the last time you really took a look at how effective you are both personally and professionally? If you’re like most hard-working accountant moms, you probably think you’re pretty effective since you’re doing your best to balance an accounting career with also being a mom, but if you don’t have the balanced, successful, happy life you want, you might want to take a look at your effectiveness.
But what does it really mean to be more effective? How do you know how effective you are in your life? What does being more effective even look like? Why does it matter?
If you think about it, you’re most likely employed or self-employed, which means you’ve been effective in the area of employment; your children most likely have a roof over their heads, beds to sleep in, and are getting an education, which means you’ve been effective in the area of parenting. As far as you’re concerned, you’re being effective by virtue of the fact that you’ve got a lot on your plate and you haven’t run away from all your responsibilities, to a remote island, even though the thought may have crossed your mind a few times.
With that being said, the simplest way to explain what being effective is, is that you do things and achieve things in the simplest, easiest, or cleanest way; it’s being successful in producing a desired and intended result. Basically, you make the best use of your time, your resources, and yourself, and you have the results you want without experiencing overwhelm and burnout; yes, that’s right – without experiencing overwhelm and burnout.
The issue for a lot of women is that once we’ve got a rhythm going that makes it possible for us to do everything we do, we might just be on a rinse and repeat the cycle, not stopping to take a look to see how we could be more effective. For example, you might think you’ve got a pretty good time management system, but how often are you feeling behind or overwhelmed?
Really think about how long you’ve been doing the same things at work and at home without considering whether you’re being as effective as you could be; where you won’t even allow yourself to think about going after some goal because it just seems impossible. If you feel like things tend to pile up, that the time of year and the deadlines at work are too much, or that you never have free time for yourself, you’re probably not being as effective as you could be.
This is not a judgment of you, it’s just a good awareness to have if you want to have a more balanced, and happy career and home life. Just because it’s how you’ve always done it, or you can’t imagine how it’s possible to do things any differently, does NOT mean you should keep doing what you’re doing, the way that you’ve been doing it.
Just know that the less intentional you are, the less effective you also are. When you learn how to be more effective, you get clear about what you want and you’re willing to figure out how to get there; you don’t spin in indecision, confusion, and overwhelm.
It’s really important to know that if you don’t have what you want right now, you’re probably not being as effective as you can be. If you want things like getting more done in less time, making more money, or improving any relationship, then learning how to be more effective is going to save you so much time and effort.
This week I’m going to discuss 3 reasons why it’s important to be more effective and the 7 habits of highly effective accountant moms.
3 reasons why you want to be more effective
When I was first introduced to this concept, I was a little confused because I had the balanced, successful life that I had been trying to achieve. For the most part, I had the results that I wanted in my life so therefore I must be effective.
But then I took an honest look at the results in my life and questioned whether I was just settling; settling for what I had already achieved without pushing myself to want more by settling for “good enough”, telling myself that the things I didn’t have were either impossible or not worth the effort.
When I looked at the idea of being more effective, it made me realize that I was limiting myself; that I was trying to not be greedy by wanting more than I already had. It helped me to open up the door to possibilities that I had previously dismissed.
The key to being more effective is that it really does get you the results you want, it helps you achieve your goals, it gives you a lot more free time, and it makes it possible to go after even bigger goals and dreams. If you’re just going through the motions, day in and day out, just trying to survive another week or another year, you’re missing out on so much more that life has to offer.
So the first reason why you want to be more effective is to be able to open the door to possibilities; more money, more freedom, better health, better relationships, more balance, greater success, or any other desired result you want for your life personally or professionally. When you learn how to be more effective, life gets exciting and filled with hope.
By becoming more effective, you cut out what’s no longer necessary, what wastes your time, what drains you, and you see a way to achieve the desired result that had previously been an impossibility. You now see a way, where you couldn’t see one before.
For me, the idea of being a CPA while also being able to coach CPAs was a nice idea but seemed like an impossibility with everything I had going on. I was doing fine financially and I was happy at my job, so why add another thing to live?
The issue was that I wasn’t seeing the possibility of being able to do both, be a CPA and coaching CPAs, because I wasn’t being as effective as I could be. My glass was already full so I couldn’t see how I could dump out some of the water to make room for more, or that I could just choose a bigger glass.
The second reason why you want to be more effective is so you can achieve your goals faster. The more effective you can be, the easier it will be to make decisions, to manage your emotions by eliminating the tendency to spin in confusion and overwhelm, and the simpler it will be to take effective action.
When you can narrow your focus, you give your brain the opportunity to work optimally. It’s like having the most amazing piece of machinery on the planet, but never reading the user manual to understand everything it can do and how to use every feature.
Have you ever had that happen, where you learned a better way to use something that you’d been using for so long and had no idea it was capable of doing more? Like taking a CPE class on Excel and realizing that you’ve been totally underutilizing all the features that Excel has to offer.
It’s the same thing with learning how to be more effective; you’re learning how to read the manual for your brain and understanding how it can help you achieve your goals faster. Not only how to achieve your current goals faster, but how to set goals for the future as well.
The third reason why you want to be more effective is because it will show you all the reasons why you don’t currently have the results you want in your life. When you work on being more effective, all the mind-drama that’s gone unnoticed is going to come out of the shadows.
This may sound unpleasant but I promise you, it’s exactly what you WANT to happen. You want to get to know the limiting beliefs you have and how they’re holding you back from having what you want professionally and personally.
You want to be more effective so you can bring up all the self-doubt, the concern about what others think, the resistance to creating a vision for your life; you want it all brought up. The reason this is important is because then you can do something about it.
It’s like discovering that you had your parking brake on the entire time and that’s why your car wasn’t driving faster. You want to be more effective so you can uncover what’s been slowing you down.
The 7 habits of highly effective accountant moms
As accountants, we’re always looking for ways to be more efficient. We’re keenly aware of how much time we’re taking and continually looking for ways to get more done in less time.
When we focus on efficiency, we’re looking for ways to do things faster, getting rid of unnecessary steps, and making things as streamlined as possible. We’re focused on the actions we’re taking and how to minimize effort and maximize the use of our time.
But the issue is that we’re often not spending enough time taking a look at the results we’re getting and being more intentional with them. For example, your new tax software might help you to be more efficient and help you get more work done, but if your goal is to have dinner with your family more often, you might not be utilizing your efforts in the best way possible.
You might be efficient at what you do, but not effective in the results your actions give you. You might see the new tax software as the answer to your productivity challenges, but yet you’re still working too many hours, and not using your time as effectively as you could.
From my personal experience and the experience of my coaching clients, here are the 7 habits of highly effective accountant moms that I hope you can put into practice yourself:
- Live and work more intentionally – while the term Attention Deficit may be familiar to you as a mother, the less familiar term Intention Deficit is something I believe we all suffer with to certain degrees without knowing it. Intention Deficit is when you are living your life unconsciously as opposed to living on purpose; when you aren’t clear on the direction you want to go and are stuck focusing on what you don’t want rather than on what you do want. Living with intention can show up in “big picture” decisions like what you want your career to look like in 5 years and taking steps to make that happen, as well as “small picture” decisions like getting clear about your intention before calling that friend to complain to them about something they did. The reason that living with intention matters is because it helps you create the life you want rather than being stressed about the life you have. When you learn to set intentions you know exactly where you want to go, you enter it into the GPS, you don’t abort the trip just because the GPS is rerouting you and you get to your destination.
- Learn better time management – learning the skill of how to take back control of your time is a gift you give to yourself professionally, but it’s also a gift you give to yourself and your family personally because it allows you to be less stressed and enjoy your time. The issue is that as accountants, with all the education and knowledge we have, we were never taught how to use our brains optimally, or worse, we believe we already are. The truth is that most of us use our brain ineffectually as a storage facility for all the knowledge necessary to do our jobs, and also use it as a manager for all the work that needs to get done. Unfortunately, since time seems in short supply, we tend to become much more reactive than proactive. So instead of creating time, we wind up reacting to time, as if we’re not in control and there’s nothing we can really do about how much we have to get done, or how much time we have to get it done. The truth is that you don’t actually need MORE time, you just need to be more intentional and in control of your time. You need to understand how you’re not using your time as wisely as you could and how you are underutilizing your brain to handle all the information you are bombarded with.
- Delegate more – whether you are an accounting employee or an entrepreneur, you are also most likely faced with needing to delegate tasks to others or being delegated tasks to do. It doesn’t matter whether you work for a company or run your own, delegating at work can also come with its own set of challenges for working moms. For a lot of the accountant moms I speak to, the idea of delegating makes them uncomfortable because they feel as if asking for and getting help is in some way a sign of weakness. As if they’re not able to hack it unless they can do it all and try not to complain about it. Many of these working moms try to deny signs of burnout; they’re unable to say no to requests and then feel the pressure of having to do things perfectly. Frankly, most working moms are doing too much, feeling that their sense of worth is intertwined with how many balls they are able to juggle on their own and not drop. Let’s be honest, whether it’s at work or at home, you know that there are things you can start delegating and automating in order to make life easier, more productive and free up some precious time for the people and the things you love.
- Take charge of your personal and professional development – it doesn’t matter whether you are in public or private accounting, or how long you’ve been an accountant, having a professional development plan is key if you want to have a successful accounting career with a deeper level of satisfaction. Let’s face it, even though being an accounting professional has taken a lot of hard work on your part up until this point, now is not the time to drop the ball. While it may be cliche, it’s also very true – your future is really what you make of it. Taking charge of and developing a personal and professional development plan enables you to start, or continue, on a chosen path, set reasonable goals, and take the steps necessary to achieve those goals. Whether your future goals include going for a Master’s Degree, attending or speaking at an industry conference, leaving your job and going out on your own, or specializing in a particular area, your accounting career development depends on planning and execution. When you look around at other accountants, have they achieved something you also wish to accomplish? Is there something that sounds intriguing? Those individuals who are doing what you would like to do, whether it’s the female CFO of that company you admire, or it’s that new franchisee at CPA MOMS who is building her own accounting practice while being able to be at home with her children, they did not leave it up to chance. Their career path was a series of plans, decisions, and actions on their part.
- Utilize the 80/20 rule – If you feel like you just can’t get ahead of all you have to do, the issue isn’t that you have little time to do all the things you need to do; the issue is that you feel the need to do too many things in the time you have. Inevitably you wind up doubling your efforts to get it all done believing that multi-tasking is the answer. However, multitasking doesn’t save time because your brain is giving each task divided attention. When you divide your attention, you actually pay a price in time and effectiveness because your brain has to continually reorient between tasks. The 80/20 principle is as provable and predictable as other laws of nature and it states that the minority of your effort (20%) leads to the majority of your results (80%). So if you were to make a to-do list with 10 items on it, choosing the best 2 out of the 10 would turn out to be worth more than the other 8 items put together. However, most people have a tendency to believe that everything on the to-do list is vital. But just because you could do something on your to-do list doesn’t mean you should do it. By focusing on what you should do, you let what matters most drive your day.
- Leave work at work – Separating your work from your personal life is more important than ever, especially for accountant moms. We have the ability, and for a lot of us the necessity, to work virtually, especially since the pandemic, making the lines between work and home so blurred that you might be asking yourself whether you’re working from home or living at work. Because of the pressure accountant moms can often feel to be high performers in our careers, it can be challenging to not check our work email while we’re making dinner or to glance at our phone and be tempted to answer a Slack message while we’re watching TV with our family. Even though the old adage says, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you”, we often get caught up in the fear of not being on top of things so we overcompensate by needing to know too much. As both an accountant and a mom, you may feel the pressure to NOT detach from work, especially if you want to get ahead in your career. But what often happens is you don’t factor in the cost of not detaching; the cost to you physically and emotionally, the cost to your family when you’re still plugged into work even though you’re home, and the cost to your productivity and efficiency when you get back into work.
- Improve your emotional intelligence – since the introduction of the concept of emotional intelligence, or EQ, there has been a large number of studies done in order to figure out its importance in academic, professional, and personal success. From the top of an organization, and a family for that matter, down to the bottom, the ability to identify, understand, and manage your emotions has been proven to be incredibly useful as both an accountant and a mom. Unfortunately, with our education and work experience, as accountants we tend to hide behind the numbers, often delineating and placing greater importance on technical and analytical skills, referred to as “hard skills”, and minimizing the importance of human and people skills by labeling them “soft skills”. While that might have been fine in a less technology, automated world, that’s no longer going to work. Your ability to manage your own emotions, as well as your interpersonal skills, can no longer be ignored as “soft”. As we’ve seen this past year, change is inevitable, especially in the field of accounting, therefore your ability to manage those changes, support your clients, add value. and continue to evolve both professionally and personally is going to take a new and improved approach that embraces and incorporates emotional intelligence.
So hopefully you can begin to adopt the 7 habits of highly effective accountant moms in order to have the professional and personal life you want. Just know that by becoming more effective, you can create more possibilities and have the balanced life you deserve.
- The issue for a lot of women is that once you’ve gotten a rhythm going that makes it possible for you to do everything you do, you might just be on a rinse and repeat cycle, not stopping to take a look to see how you could be more effective.
- When you learn how to be more effective, you get clear about what you want and you’re willing to figure out how to get there; you don’t spin in indecision, confusion, and overwhelm.
- It’s like discovering that you had your parking brake on the entire time and that’s why your car wasn’t driving faster. You want to be more effective so you can uncover what’s been slowing you down.