The “How I Work” series, most noteworthy done by Lifehacker, has been reproduced by multiple authors for good reason: people love to hear from successful and influential people and learn the intricacies of their day-to-day. It can be inspiring and motivating to hear about the best, and oftentimes most simplistic practices.  In our “How I Work” interview we refined our questions by adding a few of our own and spiced them up with inspiration from Lifehacker as well as thinkspace mentor Matt Heinz. If you’re interested in checking out our previous “How I Work” interviews they get compiled here.

In this edition you’ll be hearing from Rick Miller from Richard Miller CPA, who has provided accounting and financial planning out of thinkspace Redmond for almost four years. Prior to working for himself,  Rick provided tax consulting and accounting services for small businesses, estates/trusts and individuals working as Sr. Tax Manager for Nordberg, Hammack, Kolp & CashPS.  When not with family, Rick can be seen on his bike cycling both for fun and to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  

Name: Rick Miller

Current Gig: Sole Owner of Richard Miller CPA

One word that best describes how you work: Holistic

Current mobile device: iPhone

Favorite verb: moving

Grit Score: 4.1 (If you’re interested in learning your Grit Score take the test here.)

How do you recharge or take a break from work? I ride my bike; an average ride will be about 30 miles.

What was your dream job/passion project as a kid? Geologist

Sunrise or sunset:  Sunrise

Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today. I was a geology major at University of Idaho, and it just became clear it wasn’t. I looked at college as a trade school and knew I wanted a degree in something that you could actually get a job at. That’s how I got into accounting. I worked for an entrepreneur, an accountant by trade, and learned that I could take accounting and take it anywhere in business. I didn’t want to work  at a large firm and gravitated to small firm accounting and it fit me well. I was always a small business guy. Two years in Baker, Oregon turned into 10 years. We moved to Washington to be close to family and I ended up on my own since 2004.

Number of unread emails right now? 40 that are important, then probably a lot of junk.

First thing you do when you come into work? Look to see if anybody has sent an email overnight. I try to start each day with correspondence.

What is your email management strategy? I don’t have folders or anything like that. If I have an assistant one day I’d have each client with a folder. Currently, I pay the extra space from GoDaddy and sort junk and clear deleted emails. If I can deal with an email in it’s entirety, great. Otherwise I flag it and it becomes my task list. Whoever thought to create the “unread an email” option is a genius.

How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused?  I have to embrace that there are days that there is more work that comes in that I can do, and that’s okay. I keep a list and prioritize it or ask who is the squeaky wheel that I don’t want to deal with if I wouldn’t get it done. I know afternoon isn’t the time to start a big project, so that’s when I can choose things that will be easy to get from A to Z on. I to to find a way to find momentum.

What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? I’m still on that journey to tell you the truth. My clients all go through the same projection. They are grow, grow, grow, and I take on a lot of work. Then companies hit a second stage of how to make the same amount of money, but work less. The third phase is asking how much income do I actually need and how to cut back. Looking for that transition is stage four. I don’t know too many successful people that just stop.

Are there any work rituals critical to your success?  Yes, answering correspondences first thing in the morning usually; and working on simpler, less complex tasks during the day when there are many interruptions.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? My creative solutions cloud, which contains most of my tax and accounting related software programs.

Last thing you do before leaving work? Look at the next day’s schedule.

Who are the people who help you get things done, and how do you rely on them?  Mainly clients and their bookkeepers. Good communication as to what I need to do my work is critical.

What’s your least favorite thing to do, and how do you deal with it? Tackling something that I’m not 100% sure about, or that is new to me – which will involve a learning curve. I try to block out some uninterrupted time to deal with these.

What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend? I just finished Dan Abram’s book about Lincoln’s last trial (before being nominated in 1860 for President). I’m also about 1/2 way through H.G. Wells’ ‘The Time Machine.’

Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? Todd Flynn, CPA CFP at Soundmark Wealth MGMT; Brian Bircher, CPA at Martin, Bircher, Thompson, CPAS; Richard Cash, CPA at Novogradoc CPAS; Doug Purd, CPA (RETIRED).

What is your working process like? I work alone; no employees on all planning and implementation projects. I heavily rely on client correspondences during an engagement. ‘ Out of dialogue comes truth.”

Describe your workspace?  Single office in Redmond; C-shaped desk; good sound system with computer for Pandora and Youtube Music while working.

What’s your best shortcut or life hack? Not needing to keep everything or scan every single piece of paper that comes my way. Get your work done: scan what’s truly important. 

How do you keep track of what you have to do?  To do lists, project tracking features in my tax software.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? The only person who is ever going to make your life better is you. Like the Great Steve Harvey has said, “You gotta jump.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans? It’s cliche, but I do get my best ideas for helping clients or “thinking outside the box” when doing something totally different, like riding my bike or mowing the lawn. It’s important for me to get away from my work in order to do my best work.

Interested in becoming a “How I Work” spotlight? Contact Stephanie and she’ll be excited to come chat!

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