If you feel like the busy season just keeps getting harder, you are not alone. The last couple of tax seasons have been met with staffing challenges, changing deadlines and last-minute tax law changes. All that means more extensions, more stressed-out clients and longer hours at the office.
So, how do you best help your staff and yourself to decompress even when the busy season seems not to end nowadays?
Here are five tips to help you start to wind down—a little.
1. Schedule down time
Beyond just regular PTO, schedule things like “no meeting Fridays” or rolling time off. Rolling time off can include one extra day per month that each team member gets to have off without using PTO. This is a nice downtime bonus and allows you to still control staffing levels in the office.
Encouraging downtime as a policy sets the tone for your team that their mental health is important, and you expect them to have time away from the office. While we all seem to think it’s scary to leave our workload for a day, coming back refreshed will boost your team’s productivity.
2. Take a vacation
This may seem like a given but many of us do not use all our paid time off. Encourage your team to take their time but instituting and enforcing “use or lose” policies. Not every vacation can be planned well in advance but starting a team calendar where everyone can pre-book vacation time will also help with staffing and timing to ensure not everyone is out at once.
Once your team members see others posting their planned time off, it will become part of the norm for them to schedule theirs.
3. Build in quiet time
Our office started instituting one hour per day of “quiet time.” That means our team cannot schedule internal calls and can’t send internal messages. Setting up planned quiet times for everyone and then encouraging them to block off those hours from outside calls as well can help ensure your team has time each day to clear their minds a bit and focus on a project without interruption.
Getting in the habit of constantly multi-tasking, answering emails while trying to produce work while taking calls can burn us out.
4. Plan team time
Summer can be the perfect time of year for a field trip. Plan something for your crew to get out of the office. A fun field day or a team-building activity is a great way to get out of the office and help your team bond without the stress of the everyday workload.
5. Take time to strategically address the workload
During the busy season everything becomes a race to power through and just get done as much as possible. Even though it is a bad habit, strategic time management tends to get bumped for just putting out the proverbial fires. Take a post-tax season breather to honestly assess the workload and re-delegate work.
Doing so will help you and your team feel like you are more in control and will help to set priorities so the right projects get addressed first instead of just the ones that are screaming the loudest.
These five tips are just some starters. If you have any that you have used, send us a note and we will be sure to share them.