Last month I wrote about how processing my expenses has become my Kryptonite Task – the one I always seem to get stuck on.
I am pleased to report I have finally bust through this particular task and submitted my expenses! I used a combination of tools and techniques:
Scanning your receipts as soon as you’ve got them
I’ve started to pack my Doxie Go * in my overnight bag, which allows me to scan the day’s receipts in just a few minutes when I’m back at the hotel or home.
Thanks to the Doxie + Eye-Fi * combination I don’t need to worry about cables – I know that if my laptop is on the scans will fly magically into the Doxie app; otherwise they will do so at the earliest opportunity. (N.B. the Eye-Fi will do this even if you don’t have wi-fi in your hotel)
Creating a dedicated Evernote folder
I’ve created an ‘Expenses to be Submitted’ folder in Evernote, which is essentially a special inbox for expenses (I do seem to love my inboxes).
It’s an easy way of seeing how many expense receipts are unprocessed and means that I will never be able to use ‘I don’t have the receipts to hand’ as an excuse again.
Once I have submitted the expenses claim, I move the receipts to a dedicated notebook in a ’ Submitted Expenses’ stack for easy reference.
Bookmarking the form
Unfortunately for me the expenses form we use at work is heavily scripted and gets refreshed on a monthly basis. This prevents me from doing any wizardry to auto populate it or keeping a template in an easy-to-acess local folder.
Consequently the best I can do is bookmark the page where it’s stored on our local intranet and put any useful reference data (cost codes etc) in an Evernote note.
Getting tasks into your todo list
Nozbe is my task list manager of choice, so I wanted to get this task into it. I decided to follow the GTD principle of “what’s the next action?” by defining ‘Process Expenses’ as a project and breaking the task down into some component parts:
- Download the form (this is the ‘next action’)
- Scan receipts
- Complete the form
- Submit paper receipts
It might be possible to break this down into even more granular tasks, but these few seemed to work for me.
The final step I took was to make the ‘Process Expenses’ project a ‘template project’ which means that I can easily recreate it each month and these tasks will be automatically populated for me.
Busting the form with a Brief Daily Session
I tried on several occasions to schedule a slot in my diary to complete my expenses, but ‘something always came up’. In the end I found Tara Rodden-Robinson’s tip on using a Brief Daily Session helped me push through.
Tara’s suggestion is to spend 5 minutes doing something you’re avoiding….if after 5 minutes you’ve got into the groove, keep going. Otherwise stop and try again later.
I made a conscious decision to spend 5 minutes to:
- Download the form
- Fill out the basic information (name, date etc).
Mentally I think it was very important not to have committed to completing the whole task – just the first step.
After 5 minutes I had built up a little momentum so I fired up Evernote and started working through my notes. I fired through the whole thing in 15 minutes.
(little tip: I found when working through the receipts in my notebook that by adding a tag of ‘filed’ to each note, Evernote iOS would treat the note as updated and put it to the top of the list. This worked really well to keep track of which receipts I’d recorded and which were left to do).
And you’re done
With the form submitted, all I had left to do was file the paper copies. Although still had the originals floating about, I chose to print them from Evernote, figuring it would be a ‘one click’ job.
This is the element of the workflow that worked least well, as the native printing from Evernote didn’t seem to want to scale those notes that were bigger than A4 (images captured using the iPhone via EN seem to be HUGE).
I exported the attachments to Preview but even then I had to resize the images (admittedly not that long a job) before firing off the print.
This took me about 10 minutes in all (I’d appreciate any suggestions for how to improve this step).
Kryptonite task crushed?
I know what you’re thinking – taking a month to complete a 15-minute job is hardly a productivity masterclass – and you’d be right.
The real test will be next month as I accumulate new receipts – can i apply my new and improved workflow to bust through the task before getting stuck?
Only then will I have truly crushed my Kryptonite Task.
What’s your Kryptonite Task? Have you crushed it? Share your stories in the comments below.
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