HANDLING THE THRILL OF YOUR FIRST TAX SEASON
When the busy tax season is in full throttle, it’s not only the newly called CPAs who are scampering around for what is likely to be the most challenging months of their year. It’s “crunch time” for all, and organization is key, as many tax preparation firms earn a big chunk of their revenue during these few months. A heavy work load knotted into the late hours of the evening is the norm, but despite the frantic nature of this season, there are steps one can take to survive what might be some overwhelming months ahead and perhaps rise above it.
CPAs are known to rely on a few key habits such as preparing daily to-do lists, strictly scheduling emails and internet activity, and shifting work hours to maximize productivity and minimize distraction. But of course, this is easier said than done. Here are a few tips to consider during this exciting stretch.
Tip 1: Maintain Order
Stress levels can mount if unnecessary time is spent on a hunt for that important piece of document buried under piles of paper. As the season progresses, keeping your desk and office organized and uncluttered can assist you to avoid spending time on preventable tasks.
Tip 2: Create a time management system
Though you may already be using your firm’s software to docket each file, a system to track your daily tasks will still be necessary. It’s essential to find a time management system that will work for you as it will create an organized routine you’ll need to stick to throughout the season. This can include your iPad calendar, an email calendar or a simple hard copy calendar that will allow you to allocate time to your daily responsibilities. A reminder feature can also be useful to keep you on top of your appointments and meetings.
Tip 3: Manage expectations
It’ll be wise to let your family and friends know what is going on at work. Managing their expectations and letting them know your availability will not only mean you can stay on top of your work, but also they may actually help lift the weight off your shoulder by assisting in your home life.
Tip 4: Establish a to-do list
Start each day fresh with identifying and prioritizing each task that requires the most attention and commit to doing that first. Avoid getting lost in browsing through your inbox first thing in the morning. Create a list and prioritize the necessary tasks. It may be a good idea to start with the most tedious and time consuming task first and get it out the way. Getting into the habit of prioritizing will create routine and give you a sense of accomplishment when tasks are checked off the list.
Tip 5: Recognize interruptions
Emails, phone calls, and text messages may all seem like the quickest form of communication, however these can take up a huge chunk of the hours in your day. Use your list to concentrate on one task at a time. You’ll be surprised at how fast things get done when they have your undivided attention. Leave a time slot for your messages and phone calls, and bear in mind that a simple phone call can be much quicker than going back and forth between messages.
Tip 6: Be reachable
Although putting aside the devices that interrupt your routine is one step to remaining productive, it is still important that your firm and colleagues can reach you when necessary. Talk with your colleagues and find out what is the best means of communication so you do not miss out on important issues.
Tip 7: Clarify when in doubt
Ensure to be clear about the task at hand. Your colleagues may also be consumed with work, but it can cost everybody if the work is not done right. Do not be afraid to ask questions when you are in doubt.
Tip 8: Give yourself a break
Lastly, it is important to recognize when to give yourself a break. You are not the most productive when over worked. Mistakes tend to seep in when you are most vulnerable. Be sure to give yourself some time to refuel, because you are at your best when you feel recharged.
© Consortium International Limited 2016
Posted on Friday Oct 14