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How to Handle Stress This Busy Season

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CPA Dealing with StressLong hours and short fuses – the telltale signs that tax season is here. How you go about dealing with the excessive demands on your time and patience can be the difference between surviving and thriving this year.

Busy season stress was a topic that we tackled during our first CPA Advisory Board meeting late last year. Board member Thomas Angelo, managing principal at The Spire Group was the first to offer his approach to stress, “I’m a glass half-full guy. I won’t let it get to me. If I can be that way, I can keep it together.” In contrast Thomas observes, “I’ve seen others whose stress level is through the roof!”

Thomas’ positive outlook illustrates that the key to making it through with your civility and sanity intact has a lot to do with attitude. When the pressure mounts, remaining optimistic can be easier said than done. With help from our Advisory Board members, we’ve gathered some advice to help you keep your cool while the season heats up.

Put it in Perspective

Unless this is your first year as a practicing CPA, you know that somehow, someway you will survive. By accepting that this season too shall pass, you put things in the right perspective.

Linda Wescott principal at Savastano, Kaufman & Company summed up this tactic perfectly, “After 30 years, I’ve learned that it always gets done. No matter how much work we have, it all gets done. Even when it gets to that [highly-stressful] level, it’s going to be okay. We’re not doing brain surgery, there really isn’t an accounting emergency.”

Give Yourself a Break

You may want to start viewing work as a workout. The idea behind interval training is that by alternating between periods of high-intensity exercise with brief rest, you can achieve optimal physical fitness. It seems this concept can be applied to productivity in the workplace.

According to The Muse, “working with purpose” or the “100% dedication theory” can help you avoid burnout. Treat your working time as sprints, dedicating 52 minutes to accomplishing tasks, getting things done, and making progress. Then break for 17 minutes, completely removing yourself from the work you’re doing. It may seem counterintuitive, but to get more done, you should spend less time doing it.

Take it in Stride

There’s truth to the quote: “Don’t worry about what you can’t control.” Worrying is fruitless, it’s far better to put your nose to the grindstone and push forward. Jim Lawrence, partner at Traphagen Financial calmly states, “I do what I’ve got to do to get it done. I don’t know what stress means–let’s get it over with. Let’s finish it. When the day comes, and it’s the end of the tax season, it’s alright and we’ve finished everything.”

Embrace the Mayhem

While the start of busy season may fill you with feelings of dread, it should also be a time to be thankful. Being busy is a sign that you are contributing to a successful practice. After all, it is far better to have more work that you can comfortably manage than to have little or no work at all.

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