Oh, January, how accountants hate thee. The busiest month of the year. Most in the industry expect this. They expect the long hours spent closing out the year, ensuring everything is correct with payroll for final filings, even chasing vendors for 1099 filings. What a way to start the year after the dumpster fire of 2020! However, this too, shall pass. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you keep swimming –
You cannot do everything in a day
Just because we cannot do everything does not mean we need to get mad at ourselves or the lack of hours in the day. It can be hard to get out of your own head and see past the never-ending to-do list. However, when you try to do everything, you burn yourself out. How much are you going to accomplish if you are burnt out? Not as much as if you took a moment and realized that the world would not end if you need to re-prioritize what actually needs, and can, get done that day.
Sometimes it is helpful to stop and breathe, find your center, and then move forward. Whether it is meditation, going for a walk, or a little stretching, taking that time actually helps you be more productive. There is science to help prove that your brain needs breaks. Working for long stretches of time without a break leads to more stress and exhaustion. When you give yourself that moment to breathe and get away from the screen, it helps replenish your mental resources. There is even a study that suggests that prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance.
The better we get at our jobs; the more people want from us. If you try to stay on top of everything that everyone wants you to do, you will probably lose your mind. Think of the learning opportunities being missed out on when you could have trained someone else or given them a chance to try something new. Delegation does take some upfront work, leading some to feel that they could have the project finished in the time it takes to show someone. Learning to overcome this and start delegating may require additional work and effort, but the long-term benefits are well worth the time. Start by thinking about all the things you do during the course of a day and list them out. Then, think about the amount of time you spend on those items and add them to the list. Now, review that list and think if you can delegate all of a task, parts of it, or none of it.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you are flying by the seat of your pants. It is amazing how much of a calming effect creating a plan for your day creates. List out the items you need to get completed and place them in order of what should be done immediately down to the lowest priority. Uncertainty and change are a give, so prioritizing becomes an ongoing activity. Be mindful of those deadlines. Some work may need to be started well in advance to meet a deadline. It is ok to cut items from your list that you are not going to get to that day, so remain focused on the priorities that you know you must do by the end of the day. Then, take a deep breath and dive in.
Don’t forget to take care of you
You are important, too. With everything on your plate this month, it can be easy to forget how important self-care is. We are better able to handle stress when we are feeling our best, both physically and mentally. Even if all you do is take 5 minutes to yourself, you must have that time for you, every day.
You got this!