Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What Do You Look Forward To?

by David Jensen, CPA
Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC

For those of us in public accounting, busy season is right around the corner. While this time is rewarding in many ways, eventually the long hours can become overwhelming. In my experience, the best way to keep a positive attitude during this stressful time is to have fun activities planned. Having something to look forward to can be a big help in getting you through a long day, week or month. Here are three activities that help keep me going during busy season.

Last busy season, a couple of coworkers and I got together at 6:00 p.m. every day to do push-ups. We started with one and added an additional push-up every day, so that by April 15 we reached 100 total. It was a quick and fun team-building activity that was also goal-oriented. If push-ups aren’t your thing, take a walk around your office with some coworkers. Having a little something to look forward to on a daily basis can be a big stress reliever. The key is to find something that is quick, so that sticking with it doesn’t become a burden.

I also wanted to create something that accomplished more than a quick daily tension relief, so I started a weekly running club within the firm. We meet once a week, running a one-mile loop starting and ending at our office. Participants can do as many loops as they like, but usually we are all done after 30 minutes of exercise. Last year, about 20 percent of the office participated. We even created a leaderboard where we competed for the fastest lap time.

The staff in my office gets together after work once a month. Usually we go to dinner or find a happy hour near the office where we can unwind. The first time we played trivia together we won. There aren’t too many adrenaline rushes in public accounting, so the high we felt after that win stuck with us for days. We haven’t come close to winning again, but we still talk about that night as our greatest collective achievement. Finding a couple of hours to relax and vent some frustrations can really go a long way to preserve the sanity of the entire office.

Each of these activities have a few things in common. First, they don't require a big time commitment, which is key because there isn’t much time to spare. Second, they are scheduled ahead of time, so that they can be something to look forward. Third, they involve coworkers who can help keep you accountable; it is much harder to work through a scheduled event if you know that other people expect you to join. Getting other people involved builds camaraderie and a support system that only those in this industry can understand.

Before busy season begins, schedule a few fun activities and invite your coworkers to take part. The key is to focus on activities that will keep your spirits up and enable you to have a positive attitude.

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