Almost every kind of business has to deal with a certain amount of seasonality. We may not all sell Halloween costumes for a living, but that doesn’t mean our workflow is the same regardless of the page of the calendar. Seasonal variance happens for all sorts of reasons, ranging from climate patterns to cultural traditions and everything in between. In the case of accounting, the national tax deadline of April 15 contributes to seasonality more than any other factor. The deadline-based nature of tax accounting creates a busy season that anyone in the profession has experienced. Tax season for accountants is a bit like the pressure of the NFL playoffs combined with the time crunch of holiday shopping. In other words, it’s no joke.
Because there’s no way to change the nature of tax timelines, busy season can get overwhelming in a hurry. It’s not so much a matter of if you will get slammed with work, but rather how you handle the impact. In this pressure-cooker of an environment, having a few dependable strategies to manage your workflow, optimize your performance, and preserve your sanity is vital. In honor of the arrival of tax season, here are five of our favorite tips for lessening stress in hectic times.
1. Plan ahead
You may not be able to defray the amount of work tax time requires, but you can at least create a system to deal with the work. Take a look at any data you have from years prior to assess average workload and analyze what has and hasn’t worked in the past. From there, create a rough outline of what you can expect in terms of the volume of returns being processed and the total hours required to process them. When you can be precise about how much work “busy” actually entails, you won’t have to squeeze too much at the last minute.
2. Dictate the pace
One of the most frustrating aspects of tax season is relying on clients to handle their portions of the process. You’ll never be able to entirely control client deliverables, but you can make things easier on your clients by being clear in your messaging and proactive in your contact. Clients should know what’s required of them and by when. As deadlines approach, you can send gentle reminders to urge along folks who may be behind schedule. It’s also helpful to provide clear instructions so clients don’t have to reach out for help.
3. Don’t ignore self-care
When the going gets tough, it’s easy for self-care to go out the window. Skipping meals and sleepless nights may feel like a necessity during busy season, but their actually doing more harm than good. Sleep, diet, exercise, breaks: These so-called extraneous concerns actually have a major impact on the quality and efficiency of your work. Keep a bottle of water at your desk, take regular breaks, eat healthy snacks throughout the day, and get a good night’s sleep. That may sound like basic advice, but you’ll be surprised at how profound a difference it makes.
4. Celebrate and reflect
There’s no worse feeling than completing the tax season marathon only to feel no acknowledgement for what you’ve accomplished. On a personal level, it’s important to look back at all the work you’ve done and feel proud of your work. Similarly, firms and team leaders should take time to congratulate the team on a job well done. Creating incentives or hosting official celebrations after the close of tax season is a great way to build unity and blow off a little steam. After all those returns, you’re going to need it.
5. Use the right tools
However much we might wish otherwise, tax season is never going to be entirely frictionless. You can smooth over some of the difficulties, though, with modern software that automates portions of the process and provides a paperless user experience for both you and your clients. Explore which tech solutions may help facilitate a better workflow for you, your team, and your clients. At the core of all these solutions, of course, is contemporary accounting software that meets the needs of the modern business.
Head here to learn more about how AccountingSuite can meet those needs.