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16 Work/Life Hacks for CPAs

Life hacksAs a CPA at a small firm, you’re constantly charged with finding the most efficient ways to get everything done and stay organized. From tracking mileage to arranging the supplies on your desk, the following low- and high-tech life hacks can help you make the most of your workday – so you can dedicate more time to what’s going on with your clients and less time to what’s going on with your desk and office space.

  1. Gain an extra monitor through your iPhone or iPad using Duet Display. If you want to increase your productivity with an extra Mac or PC screen, you can multitask by using the Duet Display app, which allows you to use your iDevice as an extra monitor.
  1. Organize cords with toilet paper rolls. Cords that you don’t use on a regular basis can be neatly stored away in empty toilet paper rolls placed in a shoebox.
  1. Make a cell phone speaker with a plastic cup. Although it’s not going to give you crystal clear sound, you can quickly create a makeshift speaker by placing your iPhone or Android inside of a plastic cup.
  1. Remind clients of key deadlines with scheduled text messages. Services like TextMagic allow you to schedule text messages that will automatically remind your clients of important upcoming deadlines. Also, you can create alerts for staff and colleagues to remind them of meetings and events. Recurring messages can be scheduled on a monthly, yearly, weekly or even hourly basis.
  1. Label wires with bread tabs. Computer and device wires can easily become a tangled ball of confusion that takes a long time to separate if you need to unplug anything. To keep track of which wire goes with what device, use bread tabs to label them.
  1. Track business travel electronically. The MileIQ app allows you to track how much you drive and easily categorizes business and personal travel. In addition, you can generate highly-customized reports of your business travel and automatically receive them on a weekly basis.
  1. Clean keyboards with sticky notes. Use the sticky side of a Post-it Note to get the dust and dirt out of the cracks and crevices of your keyboard.
  1. Hold office supplies in a spice rack. If you have a spice rack that you’re not using anymore, instead of throwing it out, bring it to the office and use the empty spice jars to hold small supplies like rubber bands, thumb tacks, and paperclips.
  1. Protect your firm’s signature with practice management tools. RIVIO Clearinghouse and Online Audit Confirmations are just two practice management tools offered by CPA.com to help you reduce the risk of your firm’s signature being used in a fraudulent way. Not only that, you can securely collect financial information, digitally deliver authenticated documents and manage a variety of audit confirmation types from accounts payable to escrow accounts to signature cards.


  1. Keep cords detangled with binder clips. By attaching binder clips to the side of your desk and threading cords through the metal area, you can keep cords separated and free from tangles.
  1. Organize paperwork in wooden shutters. Hang old wooden shutters on your wall and use each of the slots to sort paperwork that you’ll need for the day or week. Shutters also can be used to hold incoming and outgoing mail.
  1. Allow clients to make appointments online. You’ll never accidentally double book your time when using services such as Calendly and Doodle. Just add your scheduling link to your website and newsletter so current and potential clients can make appointments without all the back-and-forth. The programs automatically update your Office 365, Outlook, Google and iCloud calendars.
  1. Plan your firm’s future with customizable tools. Assess your firm's current culture, talent and clients and determine the steps and the tools you need to take your firm into the future. This Transition and Continuum Checklist from the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section Firm inMotion e-Toolkit will get you started.
  1. Store supplies in mason jars. If you have five mason jars, hot glue their sides together—with three on the bottom and two on top—and place the combination on its side when the glue is dry. This will allow you to use them for storing small office supplies like pens, highlighters, staples, paper clips, and pencils.
  1. Use a Slinky for business cards. If you have a Slinky, it can do more than just entertain you by walking down the stairs of your office—it can also become a unique business card holder. When you want to remember to connect with a new contact, put their business card between the Slinky’s springs or add some of your own to hand out after meetings.
  1. Bookmark the AICPA’s new small business resource site. We’ve got resources to help you optimize your practice. Log on to www.aicpa.org/smallfirms to get access to resources, toolkits and solutions that will help you keep abreast of what’s going on in the profession, learn best practices to help you achieve success and add specialized services to your offerings that increase value to your clients and boost your bottom line.

Alexis Rothberg, Communications Manager--Public Accounting, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

 Life hacks courtesy of Shutterstock.


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