I know, I know…another blog about how to get through busy season. Before you go any further, forget everything else you’ve read about thriving during busy season, because it’s probably not going to help. Look, I’ve been there. Busy season is a lot of work in a short amount of time, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But it is a fact of life as a CPA. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be THAT bad.

Most articles you read about thriving during busy season suggest that you manage your time wisely, automate as much of the process (and your life) as you can, and basically resolve to cut ties with the outside world until April 16th. That might work for some people, but it didn’t work for me and it hasn’t proven effective for most of my clients who are in the trenches. Here is my take on the lies you’ve been told about what works and what to try instead.

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Stop managing your time.

I’m all about efficiency and not wasting time. If you’re spending hours a day on Facebook, which results in later nights and longer Saturday’s at the office, then yes, you could probably benefit from some traditional time management techniques.  The problem with managing clock time is that not all hours are created equal.   A well-rested, healthy version of yourself is much more effective than the sleep deprived, burnt out (or hung-over) version. Am I right? Standard time management techniques aren’t going to make much of a difference if you can’t stay focused long enough to get things done.

Manage your energy.

Managing your energy is actually two topics in one. Let’s start with positive energy. We all know that time flies when we’re having fun and has a tendency to crawl while we’re at the dentist. The same is true about positive energy- things are better when we focus on the positive and not the negative. Bringing a positive spin to the events and circumstances in our lives has an impact on the overall outcome. Instead of simply complaining about busy season, practice focusing on finding the positive aspects- even if it’s just being grateful that you like the team of people you work with. Notice how it impacts your day.

Staying positive is sometimes easier said than done. This brings me to the second part of managing your energy, filling your bucket. If you’re exhausted or on the verge of burnout, staying positive is the last thing on your mind. Read on for some tips for filling your bucket and building up your energy.

Stop outsourcing everything.

I’ve read several articles that suggest outsourcing everything from house cleaning & laundry to grocery shopping & meal delivery.   If you’re someone who doesn’t get any enjoyment out of those types of activities and you can afford it, then by all means, outsource away! For some people, though, activities like grocery shopping and cooking are cathartic and bring a sense of real life that can get lost during busy season.   I don’t know about you, but with the exception of maybe my mom, I don’t want anyone doing my laundry (and even that’s a stretch). 

Do (at least) some of what you love!

For my clients who are knee-deep in work, I encourage them to look at what activities refuel them and fill their energy bucket. If you love to cook, make time for that during busy season. If you know that you’re a happier person and a better leader when you get your run in each day, make time for that too.   Spending at least an hour a day on something that brings you joy and a sense of normalcy will pay dividends. In fact, this is one of the only things that I’ve found to be effective in truly thriving during busy season. A happier, more energetic you is bound to be more efficient.

Don’t become a hermit.

Cutting yourself off from friends and family is maybe one of the worst things we can do during busy season, but it’s also commonly recommended. One of our most basic human needs is love & connection. Hopefully, I’m not alone in seeing how cutting that out for the sake of work is not only misguided but also a major way that we sabotage our success.

Stay Connected!

My most successful clients find at least one day or evening per week to get out and spend quality time with loved ones.   Commit to staying connected to your friends and family over the next few months and find what works best for you. It doesn’t have to be a big night out downtown unless that’s what you crave. Picking a night to dedicate to girls/guys night or attending family dinner are great options if you don’t have the energy to go big.   Date night is highly recommended, especially if you want to still be in a relationship after this is all over. If you’re really looking for efficiency, how about doing the things you love with the people you love? Hiking date, anyone?

My challenge to you is to try something different this time around- making even one of the changes suggested can make a big difference.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, and other tips and tricks you’ve used to thrive during busy season.

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