Battling Burnout in a Never-Ending Tax Season


It’s what feels like month number 437 of tax season and we’re all feeling the burnout. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that 2020 has been a whirlwind for all of us. Especially for those in the small business advisor arena. With new amendments and modifications coming out almost daily, it can be difficult to keep up. I get it, it’s a lot.

There are a few things you can do that will help keep your mental health strong and your stress low. Let’s talk about some.

Venting is good for the soul.

You have to be able to get your frustrations out somehow. Allow yourself to feel overwhelmed and allow yourself to feel uneasy. Talk about WHAT you’re feeling, WHY you’re feeling that way, and HOW to alleviate it the best you can. Emotional differentiation is the ability to recognize and articulate the different emotions you are feeling; and while this may seem like arbitrary information, it absolutely is not. Emotional differentiation essentially navigates how you recognize problems and how you overcome them (see this study on emotion differentiation for more info on this topic). So, directly effecting your ability to make critical decisions, your problem-solving skills and more. It is worth it to your firm and your clients to take care of your mental health. Find a healthy way to express your emotions; talking to a friend or colleague, exercise and/or therapy are all great options. Danetha Doe, of Money & Mimosas and the Future of Accounting Podcast, has a weekly newsletter that I find extremely helpful to mentally regroup for the week.

Physical health is important, too.

Taking care of your mental health is just one branch of wellness. Taking care of your physical health is also very important. Not only is exercise a great way to relieve stress, but getting your heart rate up in constructive physical activity also reportedly helps your mood, self-concept, and work performance (see this study on the effects of exercise on stress and burn out). Again, showing that it is in YOUR best interest, as a professional, to take care of yourself first. With some gyms and workout centers being closed/limited due to COVID-19, try walking or jogging in a park or doing some workout videos in your living room. I personally love SaraBethYoga on YouTube. She has a lot of beginner videos, yoga routines specifically for stress/anxiety, and most of her videos are less than 20 minutes.

Schedules only work if they’re set up to be successful.

Set a work schedule that works for you. Give yourself downtime and be realistic with your goals, both personal and professional. It is extremely counterproductive to have a list of 40 things to do, when you know you can only get 10 done in a workday. Be optimistic but realistic. I’ve written articles about setting up your work-from-home schedule and staying organized with your tasks/goals, check those out if you want more details on how to better set your schedule to be efficient.

Trust those you keep around you.

I’m a bit of a control freak. I tend to take too many things on because I know that if I do them myself, they’ll be done correctly and on time. I am also a people pleaser. So, when you combine those two wonderful personality traits, you get a stressed out but well-intentioned disaster (which basically describes my four years in college, if I’m being honest).

Right out of college, I worked at a bar. I will never forget my manager telling me this one simple phrase when it comes to managing, “keeping my aces in the right places.”

What he means by that is putting good people, good people that he trusts and knows he can always count on, in the positions where it matters most. This is a tough skill to master because it requires understanding your team’s strengths and weaknesses, not only as individuals but as a collective as well.

As much as we like to think the contrary, we CANNOT do it all. We are only human, and we need a team to be successful. Create a team that you can always count on to do right by you and your clients. When you have that, you will be amazed at the difference it makes.

None of us expected the tax season we got thrown into this year, but we’re all doing the best we can. Take care of yourself first and just know; the end is in sight! So, keep on truckin’!

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