In Mary Poppins, we all learned that a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. Apparently, this is as true for adults as children. If you're hooked on the sweet taste of success, the first part of getting a month end close process complete may not be to try to do all the tasks at once, but to find the fun in the work you do. Two tools that help put a bright twist on your period end work are “chunking” and “gamifying.”
Chunking Helps Map Your Work for Better Time Savings
The concept of chunking in work is to break apart one large task--month end procedures, for example--into multiple, time-manageable, pieces. Perhaps one work session will focus on creating all your corrective journal entries, while another might just run management reports.
Or, a second form of chunking is to gather smaller, 5-minute tasks into one large chunk of focused time so they all get checked off the to-do list. Those tiny tasks might include things like gathering your binders of past statements and other reports, opening and saving a Word document where you’ll keep this month’s ideas, questions, and personal notes, and clearing a space on your desktop or work table to keep the physical materials that go with your month end work in one place.
The advantages to chunking include:
- always know where in the process you are,
- see progress regularly, and
- complete the larger task faster while maintaining quality of output. You use the clock to your advantage instead of feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the work.
If the first part of your month end process is to clearly map your objectives and decide which processes need what kind of effort, you’ll be able to set realistic goals for completion, often with time to spare.
A crucial part of chunking is to build in breaks at the end of each work period. Studies have shown that taking brief, mental breaks, improves overall performance. Guess that water-cooler chat is better for us than we thought.
Gamifying To Keep Your Work Interesting
My sister used to play a game with us when we had big jobs to do. It was called “The Timer Game,” and we, as young people, loved it. Working along the lines of “Name That Tune,” she would name a small task and “bet” us we couldn’t get it done before the kitchen timer rang. She’d name the number of seconds we had to complete the job. Even with eight children in the house, dishes were generally done in less than 15-minutes. The long and short of it is that humans love the challenge of games. Can you say, “Fit Bit?”
With month end, you can create and challenge teams of month-end masters (AR vs AP for example), or if you’re in a smaller organization you can challenge yourself to new records of work completed well.
There are several personal apps for gamifying what you do. Called Role-Playing-Games, or RPGs, these apps help turn mundane tasks into fun actions that you track and reward for. They can turn mundane tasks into role playing activities where people earn points, collect badges and level up. CIO from IDG recently did a review of 5 top apps you might consider.
For your next month or year end closing, perhaps you can capitalize on adding fun to your process and at the same time bring in high quality period end results.