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Paperwork Delays and Some Causes

Part of our series on mental health for business professionals.

I have already laid out in past blogs some ideas on productivity. This time I want to speak about delayed paperwork, especially invoicing for the self-employed and expense reports for those employed.

The individual, whether employed or self-employed, can ride a mood swing of some magnitude during a project. The work consists of starting a project, doing the project, finishing the project, and then all the necessary paperwork. Project workload can be compared to a mood swing. When starting the job, you get an elevated feeling. Finishing the job is the coming down mood swing. The depression cycle is in the expenses, reports for reimbursement, and invoicing paperwork period. (I will use paperwork as a term meaning manual paperwork or entries into expense and project management software.)

While the self-employed can have issues with final invoicing, it is particularly difficult for some individuals. Not only is the job done, but the relationship with the customer may be perceived as done. (It’s not done if you have not been paid!) Another self-employment issue is the delay in receiving final payment. You may have a seven-day net or 30-day net due. Net is the time from when the job is completed (not invoiced) to when it must be paid. Do you have a contract or agreement with completion dates or net due? If not, maybe you should have one. A net 30 days easily turns into 90 days, and you end up funding everyone’s bank except your own.

The advantage in keeping the paperwork orderly during the project is collecting the money due to you in the correct amount and the agreed upon time. Something that helps in collecting money quicker is the project finished or sign-off sheet. These Sign-Off sheets include any difficulties that need to be addressed and set the exact date with the payment terms and include a signature from the customer. This means your net due date is already counting down before you return to the office.

Also by Peter Zawistowski: Setting Business Goals When You Have Depression, PTSD or Bipolar Disorder

I still would not delay too long in invoicing. Someone could misplace the sign-off sheet (probably in a piled high desk). If you delay weeks for the billing or invoicing for a completed project, the client does not have much motivation to pay promptly. When you are not prompt, then the customer may not be prompt.

Put invoicing on your calendar; it is important to avoid severe cash flow problems. For expense reports and petty cash slips, these are so easy to let go, pile up, and get to them next week. Then it’s the week after and it goes on and on. This goes for those who are filling out expense sheets manually or submitting them electronically. Remember that part of the job is the paperwork.

Take the time to fill out expense reports as soon as you can. You might be feeling a little down from completing the job or assignment. You should feel that high again when you complete all the paperwork. We are not talking about expenses alone; maybe you have revisions to be made to the system operation manual. Finishing paperwork will remove a great deal of anxiety.

Paperwork is necessary — how can a company keep track of costs and expenses and invoice the customer if there is an incomplete record of employee or self-employed expenses? No expenses, no invoice; no invoice sent out, no check coming in; no check for payroll, no payroll to give out.

Also by Peter Zawistowski: Productivity Habits for the Depressed and Bipolar

You should make those around you feel the paperwork is really important. You owe it to yourself to value your accomplishments.