As a new accountant, I’d heard horror stories about tax season. I was told to expect at least 60-hour workweeks (one colleague told me 90 hours was the norm for him).
Social life? Family time? My favourite weekly TV show? “Not a chance,” another colleague laughed. “You’ll be lucky if you remember to eat most days.”
It was enough to make me seriously contemplate my career choice.
With another tax season in Canada just around the corner, I’ve thought about how much I could have used practical tips from experienced accountants during that first year. It might’ve eased my anxiety a bit, given a bit more work-life balance or at least helped me prepare for the long days and nights to come.
I decided to reach out to my colleagues across Canada for their advice on how to prepare for tax season, which I’ve compiled here. Bring it on, tax season.
I don’t know how I lived without it. I used to sit all day and wonder why my neck and my back were always sore. Now, I start my day sitting and adjust my desk to standing height when I need a break. An ergonomic chair is a must, too! -Jessica, Winnipeg
I live close to the office and our winters are usually mild, so I walk or bike to work most days. You can take the stairs or stretch at your desk. It’s a great way to clear your mind when you’ve been working nonstop.” -Alex, Vancouver
Fill it up at the beginning of each day. Then I don’t have to keep refilling it and just seeing it on my desk reminds me to drink more water. -Kelly, Winnipeg
I have a fruit basket in my office. Yes, an actual fruit basket. I’ve thrown a few granola bars and other healthy snacks in there too, which helps me avoid the unhealthy treats in the break room and gets me through the mid-afternoon or evening slump. -Julie, Toronto
As tired as I am when I get home, I always lay out my clothes and put whatever I need for work by the door. My brain feels like it’s in a perma-fog during the busy season, so prepping in advance makes my mornings less hectic and it makes it less likely I’ll forget something. -Paula, Regina
Reach out to your co-workers if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Hire a cleaning service or a dog walker, even if it’s only for a few weeks. Get your groceries delivered. Do what you have to do to get through working long hours with your sanity intact. -Courtney, Toronto
I used to get to the office early, work through lunch and leave early. Meanwhile, I wasn’t getting the face time I needed with my higher ups, who work on a later schedule. Now I work fewer hours, I'll come in later and take a lunch break most days. -Gabriel, Vancouver
If I’m having trouble concentrating, I’ll play white noise to drown out any distractions. Other times, I’ll listen to my favourite music to get my energy up when I’m working on something tedious. -George, Winnipeg
When I’m overwhelmed with deadlines, I’ll close my email and pick a specific window of the day to reply. I’ll shut my phone off, too. I don’t need to be accessible to everyone 24 hours a day. -Ben, Calgary
I’ve made it a habit to book some time off when busy season ends. It gives me something to look forward to, even if it’s just a few days of reading and watching movies at home. -Catherine, Halifax
Finding a good tax software has saved me from all those tasks that take away from what I’m actually paid to do. If it makes my life easier and it doesn’t negatively impact my clients in any way, I’m all for it. -Brenda, Calgary
The fastest way to burn out is to take on jobs for anyone and everyone, when you could focus your attention on the work that fits you best. A marketing strategy will help you target quality clients over quantity. -Renee, Montreal
I’ve added many of these tips to my practice, but one of the best things I’ve done is gotten help marketing my accounting services through Vexxit. I get matched with potential clients who are looking for help filing taxes, so I can build my target client base with no effort on my part. Become a member and see how Vexxit can make your practice more productive and less stressful, all year long.