Multitasking – Are you working smarter?

Have you seen the 100’s of books, courses and apps on time management and methods to improve your efficiency?

Many focus on areas, such as delegation or procrastination, so you may have thought they don’t apply to you.

I am sure many of us still think that all we need to do to be more efficient is to have several tasks on the go at the same time.

Some people claim to be expert multitaskers; others think there is only one gender that has that ability. Whichever group we are in I am sure we all end up juggling tasks trying to get everything done, but is it actually helping us get our jobs done any quicker or more efficiently?

A recent article I read in the accountants magazine had some interesting points and got me thinking about how I work.

Researchers found that your brain simply can’t do two similar things at once e.g. we can walk and eat or walk and talk but if we’re trying to do things that use the same part of the brain it can’t cope and switches off.

We have all thought we could write an e-mail while talking to a customer/client on the phone, or read a text during a meeting but in reality, while you were doing this, how much did you miss of what another person was saying?

The research at the University of Michigan showed that people who think they are good at multitasking were actually slower than those who stick to one task at a time. A prime example is when participants were given a report to write; those with their e-mail open took 50% longer and made twice as many errors.

“Juggling is an illusion…. In reality, the balls are being independently caught and thrown in rapid succession… It is actually task switching.” ― Gary Keller, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

So next time you want to start another task think again and concentrate on getting the first task finished.

To ensure we meet our promise of a 31 day turnaround for all your annual accounts we are always on the lookout for ways to improve the way we do things. In line with this, along with other improved processes we are trialling set times for us and our staff to check e-mails rather than having them going all the time. So although we may not be able to reply to e-mails immediately we will be more efficient and accurate when we do.

It is early days yet and the temptation is still there to drop what we are doing to get the little jobs done immediately but we will keep at it, so if you notice us looking a bit more relaxed next time you come in, the new methods are obviously working.

Buying & Selling of Businesses

I’ve been working with a few clients this year on the sale or purchase of a business. Sometimes it’s an outright sale or purchase to or from a third party, sometimes it’s bringing a new owner into an existing business, sometimes it’s someone wanting to get out of the ownership of a business; a business divorce. Sometimes it’s the shares in a company that are being sold, sometimes it’s the operating business being sold out of a company and sometimes the purchaser doesn’t want to buy all the parts of the business.

Each reason needs a different approach but the procedure to come to a successful agreement is pretty straight forward.

There’s the price to be agreed. (We don’t do formal valuations, but we do a business appraisal, analysing the accounts of the business and coming up with a likely amount we think it’s worth and working out how long you would expect it to take to earn back the purchase cost from the operations).

Then we have to work out how that’s going to be paid. Straight up cash is always good, but the real world doesn’t always work that way. Vendor finance may be required to help the purchaser and make it all work, or forecasts prepared to ask the bank for finance.

Then we have to work out what’s happening to all the other parts of the business and how it’s all going to proceed, in practical steps.

It’s work I love doing. Basically you’ve got 2 or more parties that both want the same outcome and are trying to work out the details of how to get there in a way that’s fair for everyone concerned.

The best way is to get all parties together and talk through all these things so that we make sure everyone understands and has agreed on all points and how it’s going to happen. Then I draw up a basic Heads of Agreement, before it’s taken to the lawyers for the formal paperwork to be completed.

Give me a call if I can help you with this process.

Paper records taking over? Find out what you actually need to keep.

Got piles of paper stacked all over the house?

Even though we are moving more and more to a paperless society it is amazing how much paper we still accumulate in trying to run a business.

How many times have you considered sorting it out or been tempted to bin the lot?

Exactly what are the legal requirements for record keeping?

Basically Inland Revenue require you keep to all your tax records for 7 years. They have authority to access all of these records and all forms of media on which this information is stored so the records need to be maintained in a form that can be retrieved without delay or cost to Inland Revenue.

Tax records include any information or document about:

  • Sales
  • Income
  • Expenses
  • Assets and
  • Liabilities

This is a pretty broad definition and can amount to a fair bit of paperwork so, to keep with the times; the form these can be kept in has expanded to include electronic records such as scanned documents, computer files and files in the cloud. For further details on the requirements see here .

Some of the cloud computing providers such as Xero and MYOB have been given special authority to store the data offshore but this still needs to be readily accessible to Inland Revenue. If you store records offshore and your provider is not on the approved list you will need to apply to IRD for approval.

Here at BW thanks to a great effort from Pete we have scanned and reduced the bulk of our paper records and now have a couple of extra walls that need to be painted. It is a great feeling to clear that much space. You just need to be aware that you are still legally responsible for the storage of your records, so whichever method you choose, looking after them and keeping backups is crucial.

This is particularly an issue for the subscription based cloud computing options. It is fantastically convenient to scan your invoices straight to the system, possibly directly from your phone, without ever having a paper copy, but then what happens if you stop your subscription? As well as saving all the relevant reports and transaction details you would need to retrieve all the invoices that have been scanned onto the system. So like with any of the other methods backups are essential.

After 7 years you can ditch the lot. Although we still recommend keeping important records such as property/business sale and purchase agreements permanently (where you can retrieve them) as they can often be required well beyond the 7 year time frame.

If you have any queries about the records you have and what you need to keep give Peta or myself a call.