Our guide to surviving the accountancy busy seasonWith longer days, tight deadlines, and high-stress levels, it's easy to feel overwhelmed in the busy season. Find out here how to come out on top.
If you work for an accounting or consulting firm, you know that the busy season can be a challenging time. Busy season typically falls within the first four months of the year, when the financial year-end is looming, but it’s not the only time accountancy and consulting professionals can feel under pressure. Month end and the end of each quarter can see you racking up more working hours than usual.
Accountants at one North Carolina-based accounting firm reportedly work between 55 and 58 hours during busy times, with partners working up to 100 hours. That’s far from the standard 40-hour week.
With longer days, tight deadlines, and high-stress levels, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. However, with the right strategies in place, you can not only survive, but actually thrive during the busy season and come out on top.
In this article, we'll share some of our top tips for surviving the busy season.
(1) Prioritise your workload
During the busy season, it's more important than ever to prioritise your workload. Statistics suggest that 10.5% of employees “waste” more than a third of their time on tasks and meetings that aren’t important to their role.
Avoid that by identifying the most critical tasks and deadlines. Make sure you have enough time allocated to complete them and consider delegating non-essential tasks to other team members so that you can focus on high-priority work.
Start each day by making a to-do list and prioritise your tasks in order of importance. This will help you stay organised, focused, and in control.
(2) Use automation
Automation is boosting efficiency in all aspects of our lives. And the busy season in accounting and consulting is no exception.
Have you taken time to ensure you’re automating where possible? Database populating and form scanning are just two areas that can easily be automated, according to the Journal of Accountancy. But there’s a whole host of accountancy software options to explore – and the benefits are endless. From saving time, boosting efficiency, and enhancing security to providing cloud access, and improving accuracy; if you’re not using automation in your role, you could be missing a trick.
(3) Take breaks
While it may seem counterintuitive, did you know taking breaks can actually improve your productivity and help you feel less stressed?
So, during the busy season, make sure to take short breaks throughout the day. Stretch, look away from your screen, walk around, or grab a snack. These should be on top of longer lunch breaks for food and exercise.
Taking care of yourself during the busy season is essential for maintaining your mental and physical health and powering through the increased workload.
(4) Stay focused
And in between those regular breaks? Aim to stay focussed.
During the busy season, distractions can be a major productivity killer, so it’s essential to minimise them. It’s OK to turn off notifications on your phone and email for a while. Factoring in set times to check all your messages at once is better than constant interruptions that force you away from concentrating on other tasks.
Some employees even benefit from using noise-cancelling headphones to block out noise and help you focus. But however you do it, the goal is to maintain a consistent schedule and avoid too much multitasking. This will help you stay productive and focused on your work.
(5) Communicate effectively
Effective communication is crucial to help your busy season go smoothly.
Make sure you’re communicating regularly with your team and manager to ensure everyone’s on the same page. According to research, 86% of employees and execs cite the lack of effective collaboration and communication as the main cause for workplace failures. When communication’s good though, it can improve organisational productivity by as much as 25%.
Keep your colleagues informed of your progress and, importantly, don’t forget to ask for help if you need it. Effective communication will help prevent misunderstandings and increase overall productivity.
(6) Stay positive
The busy season can be stressful, but it's important to maintain a positive attitude and focus on the work you are doing. A Workplace Wellbeing Report by Indeed found that people who hold a positive stress mindset (viewing stress as a challenge to be embraced) are more productive, better focussed and feel more motivated. They’re also less likely to consider moving roles due to stress.
Celebrate small successes along the way, such as completing a difficult task or meeting an important deadline. Remember that the busy season is temporary, and you will get through it.
Surviving the busy season can be tough. And getting through it requires careful planning, focus, and effective communication. But by following the steps above, you can successfully navigate the busy season and come out on top.
Why not contact one of our consultants for more advice? With over 15 years’ experience in the Corporate Governance (Audit, Risk, Compliance) and Valuations space, not only can we help with tips like these for surviving the busy season (and other sector challenges), but also help you progress your career – whether you’re staying in consulting or considering a move to industry.