Although busy season is time consuming and all-around mentally demanding, that doesn’t mean your well-being should take a backseat to your workload. If anything, prioritizing your health will improve your work ethic, allowing you to set healthy boundaries before becoming overloaded and overwhelmed. Considering the gray space that comes with working from home nowadays, sometimes it’s hard to know when to sign off for the day. That’s why it’s more important than ever to set a daily reminder to de-stress during tax season and know when to turn off notifications until tomorrow.
We’ve compiled a list of to-dos in order to stay sane, safe, and healthy this tax season.
We all have our professional limits. Sometimes it’s a client with relentless demands, other times it’s a repetitive task like uploading documents that pushes you to your breaking point. No matter how you try to bend over backwards during busy season, the ultimate sacrifice is your mental capacity and how that affects your productivity on a day-to-day basis.
If you're stretched thin, it’s always a good idea to delegate menial tasks that are easily handed off so you can prioritize your mental health. Know when to draw the line in the sand before boiling over about that client who can’t figure out how to electronically sign their tax form. That said, you should also check in with your staff periodically to make sure their heads are above water before piling additional work on their plates.
Does your firm need additional help? Consider hiring seasonal staff to take off the pressure of your over-extended workload. Offloading routine busy season work can help minimize the effects of burnout that are all too common during tax season.
Whether that’s walking to the corner store for lunch or taking a break to exercise in between conference calls, you need to step away from your desk as often as your commitments will allow. Stepping away from your workplace environment allows for a reset or rebalance of energy upon return just as going out for lunch can be a welcome break away from the hustle and bustle of the office.
Try clearing your head with fresh air. A midday walk can help alleviate office stressors and put work problems into perspective, while a 30 minute workout can ease workplace angst and increase productivity upon returning to your desk. You should also encourage your staff to get away from their desks or leave for lunch as frequently as possible during tax season, so they too are taking mental health breaks and returning to work ready to dig in their heels.
Now more than ever, it is crucial to set boundaries during this weird time where being in the office and working from home is one and the same for many of us. The lines are more blurred than ever, and it’s up to us to reclaim our evenings. Working late into the night can cause emotional distress that is often emulated in hasty emails or short replies. Or worse, trying to juggle home life and work life can easily lead to clerical errors, client mix-ups, and feelings of neglect from your family members. It’s always better to take time to recharge before jumping back in on that email string that can wait until tomorrow morning.
Decide on a time each evening to snooze your work notifications or even better, set your phone on silent and put it in another room so you can wind down with your favorite relaxing activity. If you need to set reminders to detach, do it! Resist the temptation to pick back up on email notifications after you’ve settled in to your evening routine. Instead, focus your energy on making dinner or commit your attention to your family by taking away the urge to answer every ping coming from your devices. That way, you’re granting yourself a well-deserved break from the chaos of tax season. Don’t worry, it will still be there the next morning (and every morning until April 15th!)
Take Time Off
Is your work overflowing into your weekends? Burnout during busy season is real, and if you’ve read this far, you’re likely eating and breathing all things tax-related. But when your clients are in a happy place after important deadlines pass, it’s time for you to find your happy place — and stay there awhile. You deserve it.
Take a long weekend away at your favorite regional hideout, treat yourself by traveling in style, or even plan a local staycation where you don’t have to go too far to decompress. Planning time off ahead of the tax deadline gives you (and your family) something to look forward to after the season is over. What’s better than hanging up your hat and being able to enjoy a care-free (okay, almost care-free) weekend away to rejuvenate and refresh after a few mentally exhausting months?
Getting through busy season is a yearly feat, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your personal health. Your job is important and your work is appreciated, but don’t forget to show yourself some love by implementing some or all of these methods to destress daily. Emphasizing self-care will help you and your employees keep the chaos in perspective and encourage productivity during your time in the office knowing they can turn off notifications in the evening.
And if your firm isn’t using accounting practice management software like Canopy, consider the benefits of streamlining your firm’s internal operations so you can focus on providing your clients an exceptional customer experience during tax season and beyond.