What Every Bookkeeper Needs to Know About Productively Working From Home

Ever since the pandemic began, remote work has become the status quo for bookkeepers. If you’re looking to make the most out of your WFH set-up, here’s how you can be more productive. 

One of the most pivotal changes that the pandemic caused is the idea of people working from home. Health and safety reasons required most businesses to make it mandatory for their staff to start working remotely. Bookkeepers are no exception to this. Now, the idea of working from home may seem convenient. But the reality is that many bookkeepers say that it’s a lot harder to get things done with remote work.

The good news is that you can still turn things around and increase your productivity while working from home. In fact, you can even make this period the most productive time in your career. Keep reading, because you’ll discover Laura Vanderkam’s insights on how to be more productive while you’re working from home. She truly knows her stuff because she’s a time management and productivity expert and author. 

How Productivity Has Changed Because of the Pandemic 

Although COVID-19 changed many things, Laura said that there’s one part of our working lives that saw the most change: How we see productivity—more particularly, how we measure it.

Prior to the pandemic, most of us saw productivity differently. We saw it as something that could be measured by the number of hours we spent at the office. In fact, many consider it a productive day when they did plenty of tasks that made them leave the office late. But because of lockdowns, bookkeepers are stuck working at home. This means that they now need to rethink what makes a good day. And many of them are having a difficult time because they haven’t found the answer yet. 

Think of it this way. Going to the office made it easier for us to gauge our productivity because there were many ways for us to feel it. Commuting to work, for example, already gave a good sense of what constituted an honest day's labor. Spending hours in the office also made it easier to feel productive. But with the WFH set-up, such markers of productivity aren’t there. After all, there are no trips to work, no clock-in and clock-out sheets to fill out, and no hours spent in an actual office. 

Today, measuring productivity is pretty much task-based. Instead of using your working hours to gauge how much work you did, it’s now likely that you look at how many tasks you crossed off on your to-do list. Because of this change, many bookkeepers now need to re-evaluate their sense of productivity. That means you need to rethink your roles and responsibilities as the owner of a bookkeeping firm. Not to mention set new goals.


Do You Know When Your Day Ends?

As mentioned, it has become difficult to know when the workday ends. And as simple as this issue may seem, Laura said that the effects it can have are too big to overlook. 

Why? Well, the problem of not knowing when the day ends has a big impact on your work-life balance. Working at home is hard for many because the lines between your personal and professional life have become blurred. For example, you might find yourself half-working and half-surfing the web for random stuff, and you start doing it in the morning and finish it late in the evening. 

Laura mentioned that what ends up happening here is you hardly get anything productive done. But at the same time, you didn’t really get to relax, either. To compensate for the guilt they feel because they weren’t really productive, those who experience this end up working until late at night. But instead of feeling a sense of accomplishment, they end up overworking themselves until they burn out and dive deeper and deeper into this cycle of overcompensating.

So, how can you avoid this? The best approach that Laura recommends is setting up a signal for when your workday ends. Think of it as “stop signs”. Some examples include: 

  • Calling a colleague to say goodbye
  • Walking your dog
  • Writing a to-do list for the next day before the day ends

Aside from these examples, you can also come up with your own stop signs that will tell your mind and body to stop working. 

One Simple Trick to Get More Work Done

At this point, you might feel like being productive at home is close to impossible. You have to face all sorts of distractions around you at home after all. So, it may seem like a challenge to get things done. Fortunately, there’s one simple, but highly-effective productivity tip that Laura shared to help with this: Planning your weeks on Fridays—and this needs to be a non-negotiable in your routine. 

So, what makes this productivity hack so effective? Laura said that having a planning time each week can help boost your productivity for the following week. This is because you get to lay out your game plan for the week ahead and make it easier to get more tasks done. In fact, when you add this simple practice to your routine, you’ll get to achieve more goals because: 

  • You’ll already know what to do by the time you get back to work after the weekend
  • You’ll get to prioritize your upcoming tasks in the right order
  • You’ll have an idea of what you should achieve in the following weeks as well

Make the Work From Home Set-Up Work For You

Working from home is one of the biggest challenges that bookkeepers and bookkeeping business owners face today. Unlike working from the office, remote work comes with various hurdles that make it hard for most people to be productive. But this doesn’t have to be the case for you. After all, you now know Laura Vanderkam’s insights on improving productivity in such a set up. If you apply the key insights we featured in this article to your work-from-home routine, you can maximize your time at home. That way, you can stay productive without it affecting your personal life.

If you'd like to learn more about mastering your work-from-home set-up, go ahead and: 

Michael Palmer

Article by Michael Palmer

Michael is the CEO of Pure Bookkeeping, the host of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and an acclaimed business coach who has helped hundreds of bookkeepers across the world push through their fears and exponentially grow their businesses and achieve the quality of life they've always wanted.