Creative Ways to Carve Out “Me Time” During Busy Season

Practice Management On your own

Tax season is here! The long days are starting, clients are already calling about the new tax changes for 2018 and e-file is about to open. It’s going to be an interesting year. A busy year, but an interesting one … if you can handle it; if we don’t find a way to break away every now and then, even the best tax advisor can go mad!

It’s already difficult enough jumping from one tax year to the next, so to add these new tax law changes in the mix is going to take some real mind gymnastics. Considering all the questions I’m getting before the W-2s are even out, I suspect most of my meetings with clients will take longer, so what can you do to cope?

My time is precious and valuable, a lesson I learned many years ago, but it’s taken me some time to acknowledge that by putting action behind those words – but boy did I have to be creative. Consider these tips:

Go electric. The most unexpected way I found to get some “me time” was to get an electric car. I admit that more time for myself was not the reason I chose to go electric, but it was a very nice side effect. Having an electric car does something quite interesting because it puts many things back into perspective. I had to align and plan my travel much more efficiently, had to stop and had to wait. At first, it was annoying. I had all these limits on how much I could do in a day. But then, I had more time to eat meals. I had time to decompress. I had time to rest. I also had much more organized days and a more relaxed frame of mind. Best of all? My production increased. Did you know there are chargers at some golf courses, not to mention access to California carpool lanes and tax rebates?

Use your calendar’s technology for you. Did you know you can customize notifications on your phone, and if set them up right, integrate them across all devices?

This comes in handy when, for example, you have a hobby you love, especially during tax season when it’s important to get away. For me, it’s golf. I highly suggest paying money for this hobby, enough to make it hurt if you don’t go. I also like to make sure the hobby is social so I remain accountable to others. Last year, I went to a post-tax season golf tournament for accountants for the networking, not knowing a lick of golf. I liked it enough that I made the commitment, bought golf clubs and signed up for a social league.

Here’s where technology comes into play. I put a reoccurring event on my calendar, with notifications two hours prior and an hour prior, silenced all other sound alarms except for this appointment, and went religiously. I still do. Those also turn out to be very productive days, and strangely enough, the day after as well.

If you are a little like me, you might feel guilty for taking the time away from your clients during the busiest moments of the year. In the past, I tried to compensate by combining business and pleasure. Now, I look at it differently, kind of like my electric car. My battery does get empty and does need to be recharged. If I recharge all the way to full, also like my car, I can go further the next day.

Maximize your time. This year, I am trying something new to free up more “me time” by hitting it from another angle: the client side. This year, I want to add value, which will help me and my firm continue to grow and flourish.

I am always giving the same information to everyone individually, and they all want to hear it directly from me, but the problem is that there is not enough of me to go around. I had two motivators for this project: an explosive growth in clients and all the calls I have gotten so far only a couple of weeks into the new year about the new tax law changes. I am rapidly seeing my tee time fade away, so I am going to try by hosting live and virtual town hall-style meetings to answer questions about the new tax law changes, and plan to include topics for my business clients, such as insurance or how payroll taxes work. I hope this gives me some extra time on the green.

In all of this, we need to be creative to get out of our intense focus on tax season and replenish our energies. My best advice is when you hit a wall or your limit, turn of the computer and walk away. For me, I continue my path to the driving range. When I come back, everything is crystal clear.

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