One very important hazard affects accountants during tax season, and that is burnout. This is a common problem for accountants, CPAs, bookkeepers, and other tax preparers during tax season. You are overloaded with work, and tax deadlines are looming heavily in your mind.
The Rules of Thumb blog from MoneyThumb would like to first discuss self-care and offer the following tips for creating your own personal 'me' time during this busy tax season. Below are some tips to help you take care of yourself and avoid burnout.
Burnout makes every day seem like a bad day. When you are burnt out, you can’t muster up enough energy to care about even the most cherished people in your life. Wikipedia characterizes burnout as exhaustion, cynicism, and ineffectiveness.
Watch out for symptoms of burnout, like:
- Severe physical and mental exhaustion
- Lack of interest
- Lack of appetite
Pay attention to these symptoms – you may think you are simply stressed when you are actually approaching burnout. Stress and burnout actually have opposite reactions in most cases, according to the chart on HelpGuide.org. When you’re stressed, you are over-engaged. With burnout, you disengage. With stress, emotions are heightened. With burnout, they are dulled.
Tax Preparers like accountants MUST create 'me' time in order to be effective during tax season.
1. Eat right. Drink water--Commit to good eating habits. That means watching the caffeine and carbs and eating veggies and protein. Smart accountants often find themselves snacking throughout the day, and keeping a bottle of water at hand at all times.
2. Exercise--This refers again to the sitting all day danger discussed above. You have to get up at regular intervals, stretch, walk, get outside, do yoga, meditate in a space away from your desk. With the advent of the new standup desk, many accountants are finding themselves in a much better position to stay healthy while working and avoid burnout and sitting all day problems.
3. Set boundaries--Boundaries properly used can help you set up “no trespassing zones” and keep your sanity. During the busy season, let your calendar be a boundary. Schedule “communication time” and respond only during that time. Don’t even look at the inbox or check voicemails until then. Let your phone go to voicemail. Determine what time you are going home every night and commit to it. Even if you have to work after you are home, you’ll get to see the family, stretch your legs and hopefully rest your brain during the commute. Setting boundaries also mean being realistic in the amount of work you can take on: file extensions for clients getting you materials late, and say no.
4. Get Outside--Find a way to get some sunshine and fresh air. Unfortunately, busy season is one of the nastiest times of year for those in the Snow Belt. If you’re working from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., you may never actually see the sun. That said, find a way. On sunny days, get outside, if only to stand in the sun for five minutes. Sunshine not only improves your mood, but it also provides essential vitamin D, can lower blood pressure, improve brain function, decrease signs of depression and enhance your immune system, according to LifeHack.
5. Laugh--It’s long been said that laughter is the best medicine. It relieves stress and improves your outlook. You can quickly incorporate laughter into your day. Call an old friend for quick relief, chat with your kids (or borrow someone’s) or smile. Read Facebook. Watch short YouTube videos, such as Jimmy Fallon’s funniest commercials or old SNL clips. Realize also that nothing is the end of the world. If you can keep your sense of humor during tax season, you are way ahead of the game.
6. Reward yourself--Set mini-goals and rewards for yourself. Each time you file X number of returns, do something you love. Buy yourself flowers, stop at your favorite restaurant, go to a movie or call a friend. By breaking down tax season into bite-sized projects, you make it more manageable.
7. Don’t forget your family--So easily stated, but for accountants and other tax professionals who work from home, making time for your family is often the hardest thing to do during the busy tax season. But you need your sanity and your family, if you have a good one, are part of what keeps you sane. Make a lunch date with your wife or kids, even if you feel you are behind. Nothing is more important than the people you love, even a looming tax deadline.
Hopefully, these tips will help you as an accountant practice self-care this busy tax season and avoid burnout. Another great way to make your life easier this time of year if you are a tax professional is by using one of the great PDF Financial File Converter tools offered by MoneyThumb. Check out the ones we offer for tax professional here.