Work/Life Balance … I’m Working on It

From the June 2009 Issue

Is it Work/Life balance or Life/Work balance? I guess that’s the question. Work is definitely a big part of my life, but I heard once that we should engage in our work in order to support our life, family and the causes that are important to us. As tax season closes each year, I always think of the price paid during those three months. This year was especially interesting for me. As I continued to manage the accounting firm that I have led for the past 20 years, I also launched RootWorks — the consulting arm of my firm that is dedicated to helping small firms achieve profitability and balance of life and work. Having also taken on the role of The CPA Technology Advisor’s Executive Editor, it’s been a busy year.

It would be hypocritical if I told you that I’ve managed a good work/life balance over the past six months. But even though I’ve been operating at breakneck speed, I know there is hope that I can achieve the balance I seek … and so can you. Many small firm practitioners don’t spend time managing their practices; they spend time working in them. And when you treat your practice as a “job” and not an “operation,” you have little say in your own work/life balance.

When you work in your firm, the tasks dictate the time spent in the office. When you manage your firm efficiently, you are in control of where you spend your time. Practice management is, in my opinion, the most important activity within any firm. Having a vision and a plan to operate as a real business, independent of yourself, is what you should be spending your time to develop.

True practice management means many things. First, it means getting the right people on board and then placed in the right position to maximize their individual skills. This empowers staff to help make the organization better. Practice management also encompasses the workflow processes you have in place that enable you to provide quality services to clients. Then, of course, is technology. It is imperative to stay current on new technologies. By dedicating time to consistently research, test and implement the right technologies, you can keep your core system operating at peak efficiency, and that is what allows you to manage your practice instead of just working in it.

You can find all the information you need on the latest technologies and innovations right here and in the print pages of The CPA Technology Advisor, on our blog (, or within one of our webcasts or podcasts. Regarding practice management applications specifically, the technology within these systems has certainly come a long way. In the following pages, our expert writers discuss the leading practice management solutions and provide detailed information on each. You can also read up on the profession’s most powerful document storage systems and loads of other helpful information to help you change the way your firm operates.

By managing your practice, and not just working in it, you build an organization with saleable value. Firms that run like a well-oiled machine emerge as leaders — highly profitable and competitively elite. Through true practice management, you are better positioned to create an enjoyable balance between your personal life and your work life.

In other words, smart management of your firm gives you the choice to take on more responsibilities or use the extra time to spend with family and friends. I am certainly dedicated to getting my balance back. My family and I both deserve it.

Be sure to take a look at the work/life balance articles available in the coming months in our online exclusive section at And read Tom Ellsworth’s article from this issue. I think you will enjoy it. And stay tuned; I will let you know how my personal challenge to enhance my own work/life balance is progressing.