5 ways to battle deadline burnout


With one more major tax filing deadline looming for 2023, it is suffice to say that tax preparers everywhere are tired.

I personally have always found the Oct. 15 filing deadline the most overwhelming. By the time we get to October I am so mentally burned out on all the mini tax seasons that I am more than ready for a break.

Preparers responsible for non-profits get to hop right back in with 990s due in November. Then it is time to finish end of year tax planning so we can jump right intoanother tax season come January.

So how do we recover?

Here are five tips to help support you and your team tobattle burnout and prevent the tax season pressure from overloading you.

1. Know how to spot it

The best way to battle burnout is to help prevent it. I know this one might seem like an impossible task, but a little bit goes a long way. Burnout can present as difficulty concentrating, excessive cynicism or impatience, physical complaints like frequent headaches or difficulty starting projects and staying consistent.

If you or your team members start to experience these symptoms, it’s time for a little grace period. Even a 20-minute walk, one night away from the office or other small breaks can help alleviate these symptoms and keep everyone productive.

2. Encourage breaks

Obviously, we don’t call it a busy season for nothing, but I don’t ever remember preparing too many returns accurately at 1 a.m. Build a culture of taking breaks. While it might not be everyone’s ideal work life balance time of year, encouraging lunch breaks, walking breaks, meditation breaks and taking at least one to two nights off a week from working late, can help keep your team as refreshed and focused as possible. Refreshed and focused brings more productivity to the table than burnout.

3. Support exercise

I have seen firms bring in yoga instructors on Saturday mornings or promote lunch walking buddies. Exercise doesn’t need to be everyone in the office signing up for an Olympic lifting contest, it could be as simple as a stretch class in the conference room twice a week. Exercise will help to reset those burnout brains. Exercise can help reduce stress and improve focus.

4. Create a calm room

No seriously. Designate a conference room or small area of the office as a calm room. Keep the lights dim, maybe diffuse some essential oils, turn on a sound machine and put a sign on the door to disallow devices with screens. As little as 10 minutes of meditation can help improve focus and reduce the effects of stress. If your team is feeling overwhelmed, they can take a couple minutes to disconnect from stressors.

5. Build a support network

Social culture can play a huge role in burnout. If your team builds a culture of overwhelm, burnout and criticism, it will be hard to combat it. Especially for remote workers who could more easily feel isolated, it’s important that you build a support network to ensure that they don’t feel alone in battling their burnout.

Try to build in at least one opportunity a week for your team to connect on something other than clients and work. Whether you have pizza Friday in the office, or virtual coffee with corny icebreakers, it doesn’t matter as long as you create the opportunity for them to connect with one another. The feelings of positive support will go a long way, especially when co-workers feel accountable to one another to help prevent burnout.

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