Everyone knows that at the end of each year, CPAs fall off the map for a few weeks. Its either the end of the fiscal year or tax season, pick your poison! Some people see these late nights and desk-bound dinners as necessary sacrifices. But is that really the case? Do you really need to leave your personal life behind and put your health at risk to be a top-notch CPA?
Whether it’s your first busy season or your thirtieth, there are certain things you can do to make it through this challenge without losing sight of the rest of your life. You just need to be prepared.
before the rush - at the office
Make sure you have the right equipment at your disposal. Did you recently hear about a new software that could help increase your productivity? Test it out right away. Will you need a second screen, or is your chair causing you back pain? Take care of these types of issues ASAP!
Work as a team. If you think your workload is going to be too heavy, say so in advance. Believing that you need to do everything by yourself is a direct path to burnout. Instead, you can designate other members of your team to take over some of your day-to-day responsibilities.
Create a cheat sheet. Even the most experienced employees can sometimes forget a step when they’re stressed out. Creating a list of tasks to accomplish in advance will allow you to mentally prepare, and to be more efficient when the time comes. If you work with the public, or if your coworkers need to provide certain documents, make a list for them too! That way, you won’t have to wait on their information.
before the rush - at home
Prepare your loved ones. Discuss your needs, and let your family know how they might be able to help you in the coming weeks. Let people know that you’re going to be less available and plan to put certain responsibilities on hold.
Enjoy the calm before the storm. During this time, the change in routine and loss of social life have the largest impact on people’s moods. If you feel guilty about neglecting your friends and family every year, prepare for the blow by getting the most out of the last few weeks before the chaos. Relax and participate in activities that you enjoy. That way, you’ll kick off the high season with a positive attitude, ready to put your best foot forward.
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during the rush - at the office
Budget your time. Staying organized can help you avoid lots of headaches. Use a digital agenda to plan each minute of your day – you should even schedule in time to read emails, return calls, and eat lunch or take a break. This will help you minimize distractions and waste less time. Set up alerts to notify you of task changes and make your calendar accessible to your colleagues. You can even use a colour code to indicate time slots during which you absolutely cannot be disrupted. Never hesitate to reserve time to go to the gym or watch your favourite show: preserving certain aspects of your routine will help you decompress, and be more productive as a result.
Be open about your workload. It can be difficult for people who aren’t CPAs to fully understand the amount of work that needs to get done. Send an email to clients and colleagues to let them know about your upcoming unavailability. Set up an automatic email reply and voicemail message to let people know you will not be responding as quickly as usual. That way, you won’t offend anyone!
Ask for help. Don’t wait until you're at the end of your rope to call for backup! From newbies to experts, everyone needs a helping hand – like when it comes to re-reading your reports, for example. It’s better to be honest and admit that you can’t do it on your own than to stay quiet and fail to deliver.
during the rush - at home
Take the time to prepare a lunch. Lots of companies offer to buy their employees food when the workweek is longer than usual. However, burgers and fries aren’t exactly the best fuel if you want to maintain your productivity (or your fitness). Dedicating a few minutes to preparing a healthy lunch will ultimately help you keep up your efficiency.
Allow yourself to let go. Is the house a total mess? Do you not have the energy to run 3km every day? If so, it’s not the end of the world. Accept that you’re going to fall behind on certain less-enjoyable aspects of your routine. Just concentrate on whatever helps you relax, and indulge in it guilt-free.
Optimize your mornings. If you need to accomplish certain tasks, do them as soon as you get up. Plan out dinner, read your emails, make a dentist appointment, spend time with your kids. The chances of you getting these things done are way higher after a good night’s sleep than after 10 hours in front of your computer.
after the rush - at the office
Debrief. When the dust settles, reflect on your highs and lows. Take notes for next year and find a way to solve problems in advance. You should also tap into your network! Fellow CPAs are likely to have lived a similar experience, so they can also share their tips and solutions.
after the rush - at home
Plan something fun. Take a few days off to recharge your batteries. This is the ideal time to take a vacation or day trip. After an intense period of hard work, many people feel demotivated when they return to their normal responsibilities. Realizing that the pace has slowed down and you’re not as in-demand can be difficult, so focus your mind on other things and treat yourself!
If you find you’re unable to reduce your stress levels year after year, it might be because you haven’t found the right team to support you. Get in touch with your nearest Randstad branch! Our recruiters will know exactly how to find the perfect work environment for you.