time-audit

Accounting professionals are gearing up for busy season once again. For many, this means longer hours at the office, less time with family or friends, and difficulty focusing on CPA Exam Review. But, if you've decided to become a CPA, you probably don't want to simply stop studying, or postpone sitting for the exam until busy season is over. You want to become a CPA as soon as possible, and you're willing to work as hard as you need to to accomplish your goal.

But how can you find the time to study when you're working so much? How does anyone get it done?

The truth is, most CPA Exam candidates are working professionals. You CAN do it. You just need to be aware of how much time you really have by doing a complete and honest audit of your time.

Total up the number of hours in your week and subtract from that total, based around your priorities. Be as detailed as possible.
If you're having trouble deciding what your priorities should be, try using this list to help you with your audit:

  1. Health: Without your health, all other priorities become meaningless. Maintaining your health requires you to eat, drink, sleep and excercise. Total weekly hours required:
  2. Work: During busy season, your job will require most of your waking time. Luckily, some of your health requirements can often be accomplished during work hours. Except for sleep. Sleeping on the job is considered bad form. Total weekly hours required:
  3. Family: These people are the ones who love you even if they rarely see you. Don't neglect them too much. They won't require a lot of time or effort if they support your goal of becoming a CPA. Every day, give them a smile, a wave, perhaps dinner and a few minutes of light conversation. In return, they'll prove to be invaluable when it comes to delegating tasks you decide are low priority. Total weekly hours required:
  4. Study: You know what this means. It means concentration, determination, and discipline. It's also going to be one of the last things you'll want to do after taking care of priorities 1 through 3. But, remember: If you're using your time effectively, you'll be able to accomplish two or more priorities at the same time. For example, some people can study while riding the train or bus during their morning commute to work, accomplishing both the Work and Study goals. Some people can study on their lunch break, accomplishing the Health and Study goals. If you can study effectively and consistently you WILL pass the CPA Exam. Total weekly hours required:
  5. Social/Recreation: This is usually the lowest priority for most people. You can get away without having much of a social life, but who wants to end up a CPA without friends? Besides, your friends can help you relax and clear your head when you need it. And you will need it. Believe me. If you have ANY time left after you take care of your other priorities, give your friends a call. But, don't let them talk you out of studying! If you don't have any friends, spend some time doing one of your hobbies... But, beware of TV. It has a tendency to suck away time very quickly. Total weekly hours required:

You should now have a clear idea of how many hours you'll need for each of your priorities. Much like a financial budget, you'll need to add or subtract hours from each of these categories to find your perfect balance. During busy season, accountants are working between 50 and 70 hours per week according to some reports. Even if you subtract 8 hours per night for sleep, you'll still be left with over 40 hours. What you decide to do with that time is up to you.