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Firm Management

Survival Tips for Fall Busy Season

What can you do to keep yourself going, coast through the deadlines, keep your colleagues satisfied and your family and friends happy, and maintain some semblance of the self you want to be?

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You’ve had those days (weeks, months…), right? when the deadlines are crashing in like waves on the shore, and every time you open your email or listen to your voice mail there’s another urgent request to add to your never-ending to-do list, and your family and friends seem to need you more than ever during those times, and the things that you actually want to do in your life are so far out of sight that you actually start rethinking your whole career. If you’re a tax accountant, you can be pretty sure those scenarios will hit right around the big mid-month filing deadlines.

What can you do to keep yourself going, coast through the deadlines, keep your colleagues satisfied and your family and friends happy, and maintain some semblance of the self you want to be?

The most common answer, the one we all wrestle with, is – don’t bother me now, I’m swamped and I chose this life so I have to push myself and persevere and drag through the nights with limited sleep and somehow come out the other end having given everything I can to everyone but myself.

Actually, I’m not sure I can help with this, because I’m there right now myself, but here goes.

  • Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to keep up with everything. Choose what’s most pressing and put those things at the top of your list, and deal with the rest when you can.
  • Allow yourself to take pride in the things that you are doing well.
  • Get out that organizer or scheduling app or paper to-do list – whatever works best for you – and schedule each day as accurately as possible, so that as new urgent requests come in, you’ll be able to slot them in to particular times.
  • Try to keep the piles to a minimum. Even if you’re not finished with a project, put it away when you’re ready to stop working on it, and then get it out again when you are ready to return to the project. That should help keep your worktable and/or desk somewhat less cluttered.
  • Before you end each day, take an extra minute or two to remove everything from your desk that doesn’t belong there.
  • Light a candle while you work, or open the window if you have one. The additional scents will remind you that there is life outside your office.
  • At some point during your day, close your door if you have an office, or go someplace where you can be alone, just for 15 minutes, and take a break.
  • Meditate, try one of the anti-anxiety/calming apps we recommend,, take a power nap, or read something not related to your work. Even if it means you work 15 minutes later into the day/night, you’ll feel better about it.
  • Try to exercise. Try taking a quick walk around the office or outside. Can’t leave the office? Keep hand weights under your desk, learn stretching exercises you can do in the office.
  • Remember priorities. Don’t turn your back on family emergencies because there is lots of work to do. Ask for help from your co-workers if the stress is getting to be too much.

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