In most organizations, financial reporting teams batten down the hatches before every financial reporting cycle because it’s filled with manual work, inefficiencies and broken processes that slow things down and increase tension. These factors prompt most of us to begin dreading the next filing period as soon as the previous one closes.
In an effort to make this cyclical process a little (or maybe even a lot) less painful, here are five quick and easy ways to survive your next financial reporting period. The good news is you don’t need budget, buy-in, or bells and whistles to step up your financial reporting game – just some personal dedication and motivation to improve the process and your state of mind.
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Improve Your Time Management Game – Time is probably the most valued (and coincidentally most lacking) commodity when it comes to preparing financial disclosures. If you struggle with managing your time effectively at work, your life is bound to be more painful at year- and quarter-end. Here are a few easy things you can do right now to save yourself time and relieve stress during filing:
- Make a daily to-do list that includes the time allotted for each task – and stick to it!
- Read this article for some key tips on time management and disclosure effectiveness.
- Take advantage of the down time between reporting cycles to learn methods for improving your process and to design a detailed standard timeline to follow each quarter so you have a clear picture of what needs to be done and when.
Seize the Resources Around You – As a financial reporting professional in today’s age of technology, you have unprecedented access to industry resources that will keep you on task and educate you on everything from the details on the latest FASB standard to improving the quality of your XBRL. It’s not easy to make time to search for useful articles, but our SEC filing deadline calendar and free ebook, Financial Reporting and Disclosure Management for Dummies, are good places to get started!
Eat, Sleep, Report, Repeat – Sleep, food, exercising, time with your family – these are the critical elements that your general health and well-being depend upon. They also tend to get put on the back burner during extremely busy times at work. No matter how stressed you are and no matter how much work needs to be done, make time for basic needs. Health food over fast food. A 15-minute walk and stretch in favor of 15 minutes scrolling through your phone, or worse, not taking a break at all. Eat dinner at home with your family as much as possible. Sleep. At least 5 hours is preferable, but do your best to get 7 or 8. If you make a conscious effort to incorporate these small things into your day, then you’ll be able to get up in the morning and dive into work head first feeling calmer, more relaxed, and healthier - even during the busiest financial reporting season.
Meditate –The stresses around financial reporting are abundant: Did Gary mistype a number in the report again? Is Shirley late providing the material for her section? Are you having trouble with the new rule around leasing and contracts? Let it all go with a quick meditation – it could mean something as simple as taking 2 minutes on your commute home to close your eyes, relax your muscles and clear your mind. You’d be surprised at how simple and beneficial it is!
Believe in the Power of the Peer – The peer’s financial report, that is. You can shave hours off the time it takes to create your disclosures just by reviewing how others in your industry or peer group handle certain notes or new standards. You can use an automated method to monitor these companies on a regular basis so you have a stockpile of reports waiting to reference and borrow from when beginning the framework for the next quarter’s reports. With Certent DisclosureNet’ s 30-day free trial you can easily access EDGAR and SEDAR filings that might have the exact language or formatting you need to save loads of time during filing.
We know the quarter-end crunch is stressful, but implementing these five strategies into your routine will make reporting time a little bit easier.