Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from QuickBooks Online. You can learn more about our free QuickBooks integration here.

Running a small business is rewarding, but also incredibly time-consuming.

According to a recent Constant Contact survey of small business owners more than 40 percent of small business owners say they don’t take vacations, and 40 say they don’t spend enough time with family and friends.

Despite this, 84 percent of these same small business owners say if they had the choice, they would do it all over again.

Which leaves us with the constant quest to find more time. And while time travel may not be possible, there are many ways you can find more hours in the day by reducing time spent on accounting tasks.

Here are five of our favorite time-saving accounting tips for small businesses:

1. Clean up the books.

Most entrepreneurs aren’t accountants and don’t have an in-house accounting professional, so keeping the books current can become a daunting task.

But if you update your books consistently, you can save time and reduce stress. Up-to-date books, with organized record keeping:

  • Eliminate frantic searches for particular invoices or bills
  • Make invoicing and tax preparation faster
  • Deliver current financial reports, so you can make informed decisions that don’t cost you time and money

The best place to start is by bringing revenue, inventory and expense data up to date in your accounting software. Next, reconcile bank accounts. Then set a regular time each week to keep everything current. You’ll quickly notice the extra time.

2. Automate invoicing.

Month end invoicing can be a time sink, and sometimes an unpaid invoice or two can get lost in the shuffle, which costs you money.

QuickBooks Online accounting software lets you automatically generate invoices, which you can email or print. After you create the invoice, the information is fed into your accounting reports automatically, reducing data entry time.

You can also use an accounts receivable app, such as Invoice Sherpa to help automate the process.

This app sends reminder notices for unpaid invoices and handles late fees, so you get paid faster. Invoice Sherpa also helps you manage invoices by automating the accounts receivable process to send out invoices promptly and automatically.

3. Automate expense reporting.

Data entry for expense reports can also be time-consuming. According to a report by Expensify, the average employee can spend between 30-40 hours per year on expense reports.

But if you automate the process with the Expensify app for QuickBooks Online, employees will save those lost hours, and you will save time tracking down reports, coding receipts, and writing checks because the app takes care of it for you.

As a bonus, employees can snap pictures of receipts via the app instead of entering them manually. That way no one has to worry about keeping track of little pieces of paper.

4. Reduce time spent entering transaction data.

QuickBooks Online users who use the Square merchant services device can connect the Sync with Square app to their QuickBooks account.

Square will automatically import transaction data into your QuickBooks on a daily basis without you spending hours at the keyboard. Depending on how many transactions you have per month, this can save hours of data entry time.

5. Evaluate past due invoices and credit policies.

Collecting on past due invoices can be unpleasant as well as cost you time. Re-evaluate your credit policies. Consider how to enable payment when the service or sale is made, instead of thirty days later.

An accountant or bookkeeper may be able to help you find a better credit policy for your business. If delinquent accounts are an issue, you may also want to consider turning the worst offenders over to a collection agency.

Get time back for your business.

With a little planning, organization, and help from technology, you’ll be able to find more time in your business day.

Use these tips to free up some time, so you can get back to doing what you do best. Or use that newfound time to take a well-deserved break from your business. The choice is yours!

If you need a good accountant or bookkeeper, Intuit has a searchable list of ProAdvisors who support their clients on QuickBooks.  Sometimes bringing in help for your accounting can be a great way to save time.