Time management at tax time may seem like an impossible task for accountants. However, there are a few tips that can help you have an easier time of coping and feeling human – instead of feeling exhausted, having bad digestion, poor sleep, bags under your eyes and feeling like you’re on a never-ending treadmill while juggling mounds of papers.
1) Help your clients set up their files during the year so that you’re not rummaging through their slips of paper for the year in a huge envelope come tax time. Show them how to put similar expenses (slips) in separate files on a quarterly basis with headings such as Auto – which could include gas, repairs, car insurance. Bank statements, credit card statements can be set aside in their own files. Have clients circle expenses on the credit card statements such as office supplies, and other business expenses such as suppliers so that you easily can see expenditures. Teaching clients to become organized will make things easier for you at tax time. Call them early in the year to gather materials for you and get them to send them to you the earlier the better, to avoid the last minute crunch – for you.
2) Eat well during tax time to keep your mind sharp. Don’t skip meals; eat 3 good meals a day – not junk food, or your energy won’t last. Low quality, fast food can cause heartburn and poor focus with few nutrients reaching the brain. Include protein in each meal to keep up vitality. (Protein and their amino acids are found in meat, fish, chicken, dairy foods – cottage cheese, yogurt spiked with whey protein powder, low fat cheese slices, beans and legumes – about the size of a deck of cards at each meal.) Plan for a salad every day – even if it’s one you buy. Use olive oil – also good for the brain – keeps it well-oiled! Add vegetable soup, a piece of whole grain bread or rice or small potato and you’ll keep you going much longer than if you rely on eating a bag of chips.
Keep snacks on hand such as yogurt and fruit, or raw walnuts, pecans or almonds and fruit to give you an energy boost when you need it. Chocolate bars, soda pop and chips will give you temporary energy, but can cause you to crash, bloat and feel sleepy an hour later. Keep water on hand to stay hydrated and alert.
3) Think of tax time as your Olympics – and you’ve got to stay in shape! Get up and walk every so often to get blood circulating – even a 15 minute walk outside at lunch time will help you feel energized. To boost energy and reduce stress, get to the gym for a half an hour or walk on a treadmill. Shake your hands; open and shut them. Do a few stretches to bring oxygen into your muscles so you don’t feel stiff and sore. Periodically, turn your head gently, looking from side to side.
4) If you’re feeling extreme stress, try some breathing exercises to calm you. Take in a slow, full breath through your nose; breathe out gently through your mouth until all the air is expelled. Repeat a few times focusing on your breath.
5) Connect with family for support if you’re working long hours – a short call, an email or a text to a loved one can help ease the tension. Make time to have dinners with your family members whenever possible and keep focused on them – instead of thinking of work. Go to a movie or even watch a comedy show on TV to take your mind off work. Block out some time on the weekend for loved ones. You’ll feel more grounded.
6) Be confident you will get all your work done in a timely fashion using positive self-talk statements such as “I got through this before, I’ll do it again.” “I can stay calm, focused and work smart.” “I am competent, capable, knowledgable and can solve problems easily.” “I’m almost done!”
7) If possible, plan for a short (or long) vacation time after tax time. Visualize this respite every so often. Aaah.