How Accountants Can Avoid Burnout During Tax Season

Tim Sines

Welcome to your survival guide for the tax season. For accounting professionals, you know this time of year can be intense. Burnout can affect tax professionals disproportionally and lead to decreased job satisfaction, overall lack of motivation, and even physical symptoms.

But don't worry, burnout doesn’t have to be part of the package. We’ve put together some smart tips to help you manage your workload and take care of yourself. From getting your tasks in order and taking breaks, to keeping things realistic and drawing lines with clients, we’ll give you tips to avoid burnout and stay sharp during tax season.

Let's talk about how to avoid tax season burnout.

Implement Time Management Strategies

Let’s start with time management. We all have 24 hours a day, but most of us don’t manage our time effectively. Even if you’ve allotted 8 hours of your day to work, it’s still not enough to ensure that you’re effective. That’s why you need to manage every hour of your working day.

Time management isn't just about staying organized. It’s also your main defense against burning out during the hectic tax season. When tasks pile up and deadlines are breathing down your neck, not having a solid plan can cause you to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and on the fast track to burnout. Here's how to keep burnout at bay with effective time management:

Plan Your Day with Intention

Don't just jot down tasks on random sticky notes. Purposefully create a schedule for your daily tasks. Include breaks to recharge. This way, you can keep anxiety at bay by ensuring your must-do tasks are accounted for and that you’re taking time to rest.

Prioritize with the Eisenhower Matrix

Every day, decide what needs to be done now and what can wait. The Eisenhower Matrix is a task management tool for prioritizing your tasks. Use this tool to organize your tasks into what's urgent and what's important. To avoid burnout, focus on tasks that matter and avoid wasting time on tasks that may seem urgent but aren’t necessarily important.

Cut Out Distractions

Set your phone to "Do Not Disturb" during deep work times. You can also use apps to block distracting websites. This lets you focus on your work without interruptions.

Use Time Blocking

Plan your day in blocks dedicated to specific tasks or activities. This helps you focus deeply on one thing at a time and separates work time from personal time.

Following these straightforward strategies can increase your overall productivity in regards to you time without sacrificing your mental health.

Prioritize Your Self-Care

Prioritize Your Self-Care

Taking care of your mental and physical health isn’t a luxury during tax season, it’s an essential strategy for avoiding burnout. When you’re buried in work, neglecting your well-being can lead to exhaustion and make it harder to meet deadlines and manage stress effectively. Burnout is often the result of neglecting your physical health as well as mental health concerns. Here's how to prioritize self-care and manage your stress:

Establish a Routine

In addition to having a work schedule, you should also create a routine that includes time for self-care. Whether it’s exercise, meditation, or reading, having dedicated downtime helps manage stress and keeps burnout at a distance.

Exercise Regularly

Physical activity is a stress-buster. You don’t need to run marathons—just find something that gets you moving and fits into your schedule. Even short walks or 5-minute workouts can make a difference.

Eat Well and Stay Hydrated

Did you know that your diet affects your energy and stress levels? A poor diet can stress your body and cause you to work at sub-optimal levels. Aim to eat at least one nutritious meal each day and remember to drink water regularly throughout the day. Avoiding excessive caffeine and sugar can also help keep stress levels in check.

Get Enough Sleep

Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Everyone’s sleep number is different, but be sure that you’re getting enough rest at night so that your body and mind can recover from the day’s stresses. Good sleep practices can positively impact your mental well-being.

Delegate Tasks Where Possible

You can’t do everything yourself, especially not during the busy tax season. Delegating tasks is key to managing your workload and preventing burnout. Work smarter, not harder, and leverage your team's strengths. Here’s how to delegate effectively:

Identify Delegable Tasks

Look at your to-do list and identify tasks that can be handed off to someone else on your team. Anything that doesn’t require your specific expertise is a good candidate for delegation.

Choose the Right Person for the Job

Delegate tasks based on your team members’ strengths and workloads. The right person for the job is someone who has both the capacity and the skills needed to complete the task well. However, when you delegate, be clear about what you expect. Explain the task, the desired outcome, and the deadline. The more information you provide, the easier it will be for your team members to meet your expectations.

Follow Up, But Don’t Micromanage

Check in on progress, but don’t hover. Trust your team to handle the tasks you’ve delegated. However, be available to answer questions or provide additional guidance if needed. Teamwork makes for a successful accounting firm.

Don’t miss our ultimate survival guide to tax season—Get it for free here.

Automate Tasks

Automating tasks is another great strategy for avoiding burnout. Use our accounting practice and workflow management tool called Mango to dramatically reduce your workload during tax season. Mango is a project management system for accounting firms that can handle routine tasks such as invoicing, scheduling, and payment processing. By automating these tasks, you can focus on more complex tasks that require your expertise. Here’s how to make automation work for you:

Identify Repetitive Tasks

Start by identifying tasks that are repetitive and don't necessarily require human intervention, such as customized workflows or generating reports. You can also set up an automation task to request tax documents.

Monitor and Adjust

Automation does not mean "set it and forget it." Monitor the tasks you’ve set to automate to ensure that they're performing correctly. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments as needed. You might need to tweak settings or update the processes as your workload changes throughout the year.

By automating mundane tasks, you’ll save time, reduce the risk of errors, and free up your mental space to concentrate on the work that truly matters. Automation maintains your productivity without sacrificing your well-being.

Set Realistic Goals

If you want to avoid burnout, don’t forget to set realistic work goals. Unrealistic expectations can lead to stress, frustration for both you and your client, and that nagging feeling that you’ll never catch up. By the way, these are direct paths to burnout. Here’s how to set realistic goals:

Break Down Large Projects

Large projects can be overwhelming. Break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. This makes it easier to tackle the project step by step. It also gives you a clearer path to completion.

Assess Your Capacity

Be honest with yourself about what you can realistically achieve in a day, week, or month during this tax season. We tend to be overly optimistic about what we can handle. When unsure, err on the side of caution. Consider your other commitments and the complexity of the tasks at hand.

Use the SMART Criteria

Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T., which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Your goals should answer the following questions:

  • Specific - What do you want to accomplish?
  • Measurable - How will you measure your progress?
  • Achievable - Is your goal attainable given the resources you have available?
  • Relevant - How does your goal tie into your key objectives?
  • Time-Bound - Does your goal have a target start and end date?

Use the S.M.A.R.T framework to keep your goals well-defined and attainable.

Adjust As Needed

Be flexible with your goals. If you find that a certain goal is too ambitious, adjust it. It’s better to revise your goals than to push yourself too hard and risk burnout. By setting realistic goals, you’re creating a roadmap for success that is both ambitious and achievable.

Set Boundaries With Clients

Set Boundaries With Clients

It’s essential to set clear boundaries with your clients if you want to maintain a healthy work-life balance and prevent burnout. This is especially true during tax season. Clear communication about your availability, response times, and work processes can help manage client expectations and reduce after-hours work demands during this busy time. Here's how to establish and maintain effective boundaries with your tax and accounting clients:

Communicate Your Availability

Client communication struggles can sometimes lead to burnout. Be upfront with your clients about your working hours and how they can best reach you during those times. Include this information in your email signature, on your website, and in your voicemail greeting.

Establish Expectations Early

At the start of your relationship, during onboarding, set clear expectations with your clients regarding response times, meeting schedules, and deadlines. Help your clients know what you require from them and what they can expect from you in return. This helps avoid confusion and frustration for you and your client.

Learn how to effectively onboard your clients from the beginning here.

Use Auto-Responders

Use email auto-responders outside of your working hours to remind clients of your availability and when they can expect a reply. This helps manage expectations and reduces the pressure on you to respond immediately.

Learn to Say No

Don’t hesitate to decline requests that are unreasonable or outside the scope of your agreed-upon services. Offer alternative solutions or adjustments that fit within your boundaries. Setting and enforcing boundaries with your clients helps prevent burnout but also fosters a more respectful and productive working relationship. It ensures that you can deliver the best possible service while also taking care of your well-being. Good communication boosts client satisfaction.

Final Thoughts

By focusing on time management, self-care, smart delegation, automating what you can, setting goals you can hit, and keeping clear boundaries with clients, you're not just getting through tax season successfully—you'll also avoid burnout. Taking care of yourself and managing your workload wisely means you’re setting yourself up for a happier, healthier work life. Remember, it's okay to ask for help and take time for yourself. Here’s to a successful tax season!

We’re also here to help! Schedule your free demo to see how Mango Practice Management can alleviate your stress this tax season.

Unlock your accounting firm’s potential.

Save time, streamline workflows and get paid faster with Mango’s all-in-one Time and Billing Practice Management software.

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