For many CPAs, accountants and other financial professionals, the busy season is right around the corner. While we all knew when we chose this profession that busy season is a fact of life, it doesn’t make it any more tolerable. Our work hours are extended. In most cases, more work is delegated to us than we can possibly get done. Our non-accounting/financial friends have their weekends and holidays free to enjoy and relax. But in our offices, everyone is under more pressure than normal to meet the various deadlines.
What Can We Do? In this particular article, I’d like to focus on what you can do to survive this time of year. Here are some basic thoughts.
Do something for yourself every day. Easier said than done, I realize, but if you can spend at least 30 minutes – maybe even an hour – doing something for yourself, you can restore some balance. Think of things you can do – like taking a walk, exercising, reading a book or watching a recording of your favorite TV show or a movie in multiple sessions. If you like to search the internet, think about contributing to a blog of your favorite sports team. If you are a foodie, try out a new recipe or restaurant. The point is, this time for yourself can be just about anything – as long as it’s something you are doing for yourself.
Get some exercise. For most people, getting as little as 30 minutes a day of physical exertion will help relieve the stress, make you feel better and even more productive! (By the way, this tip may or may not be in addition to my suggestion above to do something for yourself every day). For many people, early morning exercise is the best. You may have to get up a little earlier to fit this into your schedule. You may not be able to run as far as you planned, or spend as much time weight lifting as you would like, but you will probably experience fewer interruptions in the morning.
Move around at work. Sometimes it’s hard to remember, but we highly recommend that you do not stay seated in your chair more than 90 minutes at a time. Instead, take a few minutes to stand up and stretch. Take a quick “lap” around the office. Go outside and get a breath of fresh air. The colder the air the more invigorating! Take the steps instead of the elevator. If you are on a phone call and are not taking copious notes, stand up while talking. Put a smile on your face when speaking to someone on the phone. These little things will make a difference if you try them every couple of hours. Not only will you feel better, but your mind will be clearer. These little breaks will actually result in better solutions to the normal work problems you may be facing!
Drink water. It’s true, something as simple as drinking water throughout the day has been proven to help us better tolerate stress.
Choose better snacks. Most of us eat more and snack more when we are under stress and working longer hours. Sometimes it’s easier to control the kind of snacks we eat instead of trying to control our meals. So instead of the donuts, candy bars and M&Ms; try some raw vegetables, fruit or a few nuts. You will notice a difference.
Schedule sometime each week with family & friends. Many of us feel bad that we end up ignoring our family and friends during busy season. What we forget sometimes is that busy season can be equally as tough on them. They miss us, and might even begin to resent us. Try to schedule a couple of times a week when you can spend quality time with them. It may be easier for some to schedule the same time and day each week. While many of us will work on Saturdays during the busy season, sometimes you may be able to leave Friday at a reasonable time. If so, make Friday your date night or family night. Keep it simple. A family movie night, attending a child’s basketball game or having a family dinner will work well. Just make sure your focus is on them. You will be surprised as to the effect this will have on you.
This may be the most interesting work you do all year. Most accounting and finance professionals admit they wish busy season wasn’t so tasking – and yet they also admit that the busy season sometimes brings their most interesting work of the year. You may get exposed to new things that are more challenging than at other times of year. It’s true that it would be better if it was spread out more, but by appreciating the variety of work and the challenge, the work will be more satisfying.
It will still be busy season, but perhaps some of the ideas above will make the season more interesting and more successful for you. I’d love to hear from you – what things have you done to help cope with busy season? Have they helped? Please shares your ideas by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.