Late nights. Working weekends. Scads of electronic files. If you’re REALLY unlucky, stacks of paperwork. No one ever said busy season was a walk in the park, but you don’t have to let it sap your energy. And since the season doesn’t get easier as it goes, you need all the energy you can get. What’s a busy CPA to do to? We have three suggestions to help you beat back the busy season blues.
This might sound pretty basic, but the realities of good organization are more complex than you might think. You likely already have a system set up for getting your work done, whether prioritized by clients or groups of clients, promised engagement due dates, etc. But are you thinking about that system on a daily basis?
It’s a good practice at the beginning of the week to review what’s on your schedule for the week ahead. It’s even better practice to check each day what’s coming the next day. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you need to do, and get a mental picture of how you’re going to get it done. As you start your day, go over those details again in your head. You’ll find it easier to dive right in when you have a plan of attack and know what you want to accomplish for the day.
Another good organizational tactic is to create a to-do list for each day. Physically crossing off tasks as you get them done helps motivate you as you see the list shrink, and gives you a feeling of accomplishment. If something remains incomplete at the end of the day, use it to start the next day’s to-do list and make sure you get it done first.
Go on a time diet
The time diet is a simple concept based on an actual diet: instead of taking two big breaks, take multiple short ones. If you stand up and walk around for five minutes every hour, you’ll do less clock watching for your scheduled breaks. Walking around and getting the blood flowing helps clear your head. If possible, step outside for some natural light and fresh air. Five minutes might not sound like much, but in the same way that five or six small meals keep you full, five or six short breaks keep you fresh.
You can also schedule more short breaks if you notice there is a particular time of day that you feel your energy waning. If you find your attention drifts after lunch, load that part of the day with more frequent short breaks. We all have natural ebb and flow to our wakefulness and attentiveness. Giving yourself a few minutes to disconnect during those ebbs will help put you back on track.
If you can’t really go anywhere, you can take these times to stand at your desk and stretch or do some of these desk exercises recommended by WebMD.com.
Change it up
Changing your routine even a little bit can make a huge difference in your outlook. Do you have the ability to work from another office? Take your laptop outside for a bit? Even small things like working from the other side of your desk can help change your mental (and physical!) perspective.
Rewards are important, and you should plan some for yourself for meeting certain milestones. Keep a favorite snack nearby that you only eat when you get things done, or put a few dollars into a jar to save up for something you want to buy yourself at the end of season. Doing this will help you feel progress in the season, and not see it as just one very long day.
Finally, give some thought to your clients. While working on their taxes, it’s a perfect time to ask them questions about their finances to help them plan for the future—it’s a fulfilling way to change up your daily routine. If you need to get a conversation started, you can use this Personal Finance Scorecard to help them identify their areas of financial planning need. It’s a great way to break up the monotony of returns, and demonstrate all the value you add as your clients’ trusted adviser at the same time. And if you need help getting started on your journey offering financial planning to your clients, or already do it and just need support, we have you covered there, too. Any way you slice it, letting your clients know you’re also a financial planner will bring benefits to everyone involved.
Until you start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, try implementing some of these suggestions to keep your energy high and your attitude great. Happy busy season!