How to Reduce Your Stress During Busy Season

Practice Management Frustrated tax professional

Too much stress can be a true detriment to your tax practice, especially during busy season. According to the American Institute of Stress, 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job, while nearly half say they need help learning how to manage stress.

Don’t let stress get you down! We asked several of our Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Pro Center authors how they reduce stress; here is what they had to say.

Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFEPowerful Accounting

If you know me, it’s go big or go home. I go for it with 100 percent effort or I don’t do it at all. This tax season, I decided that in order to keep my sanity, I would volunteer at my alma mater and be one of the assistant coaches for the Eastern Connecticut State University women’s fastpitch softball team. We started practice in January; it’s like going to recess and then going back to class. I am getting my work done at a better rate because I want to make sure I am being accountable to my clients, while working hard not to miss practice because I want to be accountable to the head coach, other assistant coaches and the team. I am having the time of my life. Why didn’t I think of this before?

Alan Crouse, CPAMcDonald Cointot Crouse LLP

I have four recommendations:

  1. Get plenty of sleep. The amount of sleep we need is different for everyone, but I suggest at least seven to eight hours per night.
  2. Eat healthy. I try to avoid eating unhealthy snacks or drinking soda to cut down on the sugar intake.
  3. Find a couple times each day to relax and unwind. I get out of the office and take a walk every few hours.
  4. Get some exercise. I get up from my desk and walk during the day as much as possible, and then again when I get home at night.

Renee Daggett, EAAdminBooks

My top choices to reduce stress include massages once a month and a nap for two hours on Sundays. I also asked my staff for their input:

  • Walk on the beach with my family. – Gina Dombroski
  • Focus on the immediate task rather than looking at the entire list of things to do. Eat the elephant one bite at a time! – Misty Wolsfeld
  • Get some fresh air. There’s a park across the street from my house where I go to walk. When I step away, I find that when I return, I have more clarity. – Lisa Smith
  • Turn up the music. – Sabrina Wilcox

Caleb L. Jenkins, EA, CQPRLJ Financial Services, Inc.

One of the primary ways I’m able to reduce stress is to have a quiet time alone every morning from all distractions. This is typically between 30 minutes and one hour, where I normally read the Bible and spend a few moments meditating on what I read that morning. I also listen to some music throughout the day using Spotify. In addition, I recommend setting aside a time everyday where you can block all calls to focus on your email, voicemail and other pressing internal communications with team members. For myself, I find that from 6-8 p.m. during tax season is typically the best time to focus on these tasks.

Josh Lance, CPA, CGMALance CPA Group

As an owner of a tax and accounting firm, the way I make busy season less stressful is by taking on less work and implementing value pricing. This allows our team to take on a normal schedule and not work weekends, which leads to a much less stressful tax season.

Andrea M. Parness, CPA, CTCA. Parness Company CPA

There are three things I like to do to reduce stress:

  1. Getting up early to catch the sunrise on my morning runs on Rockaway Beach, N.Y.
  2. After a day in the office, reading a book on my Kindle by the fireplace with a glass of red wine.
  3. Saying “yes” and attending all of the important friends’ and family celebrations.

Heather Satterley, EASatterley Training & Consulting

I reduce stress during busy season by breaking my day into blocks of activity. When you are working on a tough return or other projects, it’s important to give yourself brain breaks and step away for a bit. Sometimes, these breaks involve getting up to stretch or walk my dog, Cooper, while other times I’ll jump on social media to see what’s happening with my friends and colleagues. I also make sure to block out time to spend with my family and am trying out “technology free” time; I’ll leave the phone in a drawer to make sure my down time is really down time. I find that when I get back the return or project, I feel refreshed, and that helps keep the project moving forward.

Susan Tinel, EAApril 15 Taxes, Inc.

When things get really nuts, I have two outlets I use to blow off some steam. If I have time to travel, I head to the local driving range to hit some golf balls, but if I only have a small window of time, I throw on my favorite music and dance.

Jeff Wilson II, CPA/PFS, CGMA, CFE, AFCThe W2 Group, LLC

Tax Season is a bit of “groove killer” and is business at an accelerated pace. One of the things I have learned to reduce my stress levels during tax season is keep my daily routine, no matter what. I like to exercise by boxing in the morning, drink blueberry coffee from Dunkin Donuts and read one article. In tax season, it seems like the breakneck pace destroys a routine. However, your routine is what keeps you less stressed. No matter how much work is piling up, routine is key. Keeping it ensures I finish the tax season race.

How do you reduce stress during busy season? Leave a comment below to share your ideas with others.

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