The Massive Misappropriation of Time

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The day starts at 6am. He picks up his phone up from the nightstand squinting to see if there are any pertinent notifications before even grabbing his glasses. There are a few interesting emails to read, some texts, and a meeting reminder. He never lifts his eyes from the phone as he walks to the bathroom relieving himself after the night. The phone is given a brief respite as he makes a morning cup of coffee and ensures his family is getting ready for their respective days. Breakfast, getting dressed, and collecting what he needs for the day happen in a blur where his brain is focused elsewhere.

He kisses his wife goodbye as he is reading the Wall Street Journal to keep on top of current business events. In the car he is mentally preparing for the day of work and meetings ahead of him. Ring. Ring. A client is on the line knowing he could catch his favorite tax preparer on the road around 7am. Free tax advice ensues.

He gets to the office and immediately starts responding to emails – well the ones he did not answer from his phone before getting out of bed. How was it already 8am and time for the first scheduled call of the day? He talked to his client about tax planning ideas, searching the background for the research he almost finished reading last week.

His day is filled with meetings, calls, emails, reviewing his team’s work, asking his assistant to find things, and ignoring that voicemail from his mother. He knows the firm needs some internal attention, but there is no time in the day for any of it. The sun is far behind the horizon when he finally finishes the work that should have been finished the prior week. His to-do list is bursting off the page and infiltrating his brain with waves of anxiety.

The deadline is less than a month away. Everything has to get done; everything will get done, as it always does. This was his life for the last 20 years and would be for another 20 years. He is an excellent tax accountant and he knows it. His clients love him and keep referring more people. His staff of four adores working for him and his assistant has become his best friend. He loves what he does.

He knows that he procrastinates and leaves everything undone until it is almost too late. He knows that his systems are inefficient, and he has not taken the time to vet new options. He knows that his team needs more training to support the clients and alleviate his workload. He knows that his wife and kids want him home for dinner. He knows a lot about tax. He has built himself a job with long hours and little upside. He has fallen prey to the allure of the dark side of time mismanagement where life is a series of adrenaline rushes of just in time services.

Maybe he will focus improving things tomorrow.

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Liz Mason is a serial entrepreneur, a giant nerd, and an involved accounting vanguard. She is the Founder of High Rock Accounting, Rebel Rock Accounting, TheDepartment.Tax, and a few other related brands. Liz speaks on a national stage, guests stars on podcasts, and writes frequently. To further her passion for the advancement of the accounting profession, Liz currently serves as a Xero National Ambassador and as the Content Strategist for Tax Practice News. Liz started her career in tax at Grant Thornton (at 20) and automated a portion of her job landing her in the national tax practice. She spent a decade in large public accounting firms working on highly technical tax consulting before branching off on her own. Liz utilizes her creativity and passion at her company to uproot traditional practices and replace them with innovative concepts. She finds joy in efficient technology and her core belief is that everyone and everything can continuously improve (she says "be better" too often). When Liz isn't planning world domination in accounting, she is a die-hard skier, down for any adventure, plays the ukulele, reads everything, and has a good sense of humor. If you're looking for her, you can find her traveling the world and enjoying new food and cultures with her young son. Follow Liz and High Rock Accounting on Twitter at @LizzyNorMa and @HighRockCPAs.