Busy Season is Upon Us
If you’re reading this right now, you are either not working in Public Accounting or you are enjoying a few precious minutes of downtime in Public Accounting, so please know that I appreciate you spending these valuable minutes with me. Growing up, my mom survived seventeen years, seventeen busy seasons that she managed to work at a high level while still raising my brother and I and making time for the family.
Whether this is your first of the vaunted “busy season” (sounds pretty scary), or you are a veteran looking to add another notch on your laptop, I have compiled a list of suggestions, requirements and just a little bit of levity that I hope can make your life a bit more enjoyable and/or manageable during the first few months of 2017.
I’ve spoken with family members, friends, neighbors, candidates of mine and coworkers whose experience levels range from one busy season, as their first job out of college, all the way up to a Partner with one of the Big 4, who was happy to share some wisdom for all to hear.
Routine, Routine, Routine
People see professional athletes with their fancy cars, clothes, and exotic vacations with little appreciation for the work that goes in at the gym, sleeping in hotels constantly, flights that get delayed until 3:00 am and the pressure that goes with being the ‘Best of the Best’. Companies don’t pay your employer thousands and occasionally millions of dollars for anything less than premium services. While you most likely aren’t driving your Aston Martin to the office just yet (dare to dream), you face similar challenges to an athlete without much of the fanfare.
One of the more enduring themes I’ve heard is there needs to be parameters for life outside of work. Don’t set it to a specific day but make goals for the week. If you normally go to the gym four times a week, do everything you can to maintain that at flexible hours. Same goes for diet…there needs to be the consistent flavor, pardon the pun, to maintain a healthy amount of nutrients as you burn the midnight oil.
Friends and family are kind of a big deal. Even if you don’t have leather-bound books and an apartment that smells of rich mahogany, there are people that care about your well-being. Drop them a line during busy season and provide them with some guidance on expectations around communication. This is the number one suggestion the AICPA gives new Accountants when tackling their first year and it’s important to have everyone in your life on the same page.
Carrot on a Stick
Humans are not as complex as many intellectuals will have you believe. At our core, there are some very basic functions that have helped us thrive and survive for thousands of years. There is a specific area of our brain that lights up when we accomplish a goal or achieve satisfaction so throw in an incentive to get to the finish line. Give yourself a reward for the sacrifice you are making in your social circle, family time, Netflix binging and playing with your pet. It’s much easier to justify avoiding short-term stress relievers (Junk Food, Alcohol, Reality TV, etc.) when you are working toward a light at the end of the tunnel. Plan a trip. Buy yourself a toy you may not typically purchase. Give yourself a tangible reward for all your hard work, long hours and dedication to perfecting your craft.
The Early Bird
The end is near. You treated yourself to your preferred reward, the deadline is only a couple weeks away and you are ready to move on from the long hours of the spring. Now from a different perspective, we turn to the career progression arena.
I’m sure many of you know whether or not this is your last hurrah in Public Accounting or you plan on tacking another busy season onto your resume. If you know you’re going to be moving to Corporate Accounting or FP&A, let a trusted mentor, or recruiter know you will be starting to look outside Public before the April deadline. If you were heading to a fancy picnic, with limited food and drink, it doesn’t pay to be fashionably late.
The Finish Line
You did it! Much like the last day of school, the summer is ahead of you, the birds are chirping and the world is your oyster. Don’t forget to reward yourself and do something you normally wouldn’t do. Going through a busy season is a badge of honor that should be worn proudly. Even if you never want to think about the experience again, there were important lessons that were learned along the way. Companies know this and they know you are the type of individual that will work hard, complete important tasks with strict deadlines, be trusted with sensitive material and that ultimately you are a Tried-and-True Accountant.
Cheers, you’ve earned it.