Let’s face it, getting overwhelmed by bookkeeping chores (and life!) is a very common occurrence, especially this time of year. This feeling leads to procrastination, which leads to even more feelings of being overwhelmed. It’s a vicious cycle. But there are little changes we can make to lessen the stress as a business owner and make life easier.
First, forget the notion that you have everything stored in your mind! It’s too easy to forget something that you should bill for as time passes. Use your phone to help - take pictures of receipts so you have a backup outside of the paper copy. The IRS has approved using pictures of receipts as valid backup, especially since receipt ink fades and degrades very quickly.
Create bookkeeping safe places designated for specific documents. For example, use a letter tray to gather incoming mail for paper copies you still get, or create a series of easy folders within your email in-box to file bookkeeping and tax related emails once you’ve dealt with them. Go through it and remove trash/junk mail and decide what needs to be addressed immediately and what can go back in the tray or a “pending/follow up” folder. Using a specific tray means you know where your mail is when you are ready to address it. And then set up a time once a week to go through it and address it bit by bit.
Create templates so you gather all the information needed at one time. One example would be a form you use when onboarding a new client. Use the template to make sure you remember to ask about specific information you need to move forward. This creates an efficient way of working with your new client and shows that you have things under control. It also allows you to relax and really listen because you know you’ll have everything covered and not forgotten.
Another template to create would be tracking for year-end records. An example would be a Travel Log that tracks your mileage. Create it with the date, start mileage, end mileage and business purpose. The IRS has won every denial because the reason for travel was not recorded on the log. Having it in writing on a template means it’s easier for you to supply that information as you go. Or use a mileage tracker app on your phone! Whichever method you prefer, pick one and stick with it. Come tax time, you will be thanking yourself!
These are just a few small tweaks you can make that will help you get bookkeeping chores under control.