Busy season is almost at an end. Corporate tax returns are due March 15. Personal returns are due April 15. On the audit side, there are March 31 and April 30 deadlines.
From day one of busy season, you’ve had a countdown to the last of your major deadlines. You keep looking at the calendar hoping you miscounted and the end of busy season is a day closer than you thought.
You’ve made it this far through busy season. You can make it a little further to the end. You can even make it to the end of busy season and enjoy it. It is possible.
Busy season of 2014 represents my 13th busy season. There have been challenging, troubling and even fun times during those 13 years. Hopefully you experience that too.
When you look back on this busy season, you will wonder how it passed so quickly. Here is a brief list of things on which you should reminisce as you come to the end of busy season:
1. What motivated you – To make it to the end of busy season, you had to have some motivation during busy season to keep going. What was your motivation?
Did you use stress as your motivation? In some respect, I’m positive you did. Working longer hours to meet a deadline is a form of stress. What did that stress do for you? Besides motivating you to reach that deadline, what else was there?
For me, I focus best when I’m stressed. My productivity increases dramatically. I’m more efficient with my time and spend less time doing non-productive activities.
2. What you learned – You learn something each day. You may not notice some of these things because you learned it so incrementally it didn’t seem like learning. But, you did.
What did you learn this busy season? Here are some things you probably learned:
- How you function on less sleep
- Whether you focus on your health when you work more hours
- How well you communicate with your spouse or significant other
- How to better plan an engagement
- How to better wrap up an engagement
- What to do before you leave the field so wrap up is easier
- How to batch process work
- The expectations of certain partners and managers
- Whether you’re cut out for public accounting
3. What you enjoyed – If you didn’t experience at least some joy each day through the end of busy season, you’re in the wrong career. You should have enjoyed something each day.
- Did you enjoy working with a particular co-worker or partner/manager?
- Did you enjoy working in a particular industry?
- Did you enjoy the camaraderie working as a team?
- Did you enjoy the detailed work of tax preparation or creating work papers?
- Did you enjoy drafting financial statements?
If I could do one thing every minute through the end of busy season, it would be reviewing financial statements. Work papers are puzzle pieces. The financial statements are the completed puzzle. Seeing how everything fits together to create a set of financial statements and related footnotes is fun for me.
4. Opportunities for sales – The audit team is the primary sales force in public accounting. If the audit team does not represent the company well, additional services will not be sold to that client.
A member of the audit team sees all the “goings on” in a company. You see what the client needs and hear what management wants. If you pay attention, you can be the hero at the end of busy season too.
What opportunities for additional services did you identify? I clearly remember the first “add-on” service I helped acquire. The client had a subsidiary that was required by different states to have stand-alone financial statements. I helped that client see how a review could meet those needs.
That was my first sale and I will never forget it.
5. Opportunities for growth – Busy season is like it sounds…busy. Motivated and career-oriented employees will take advantages of opportunities even during those busy times. What did you do to help you grow professionally or personally during this busy season?
- Did you ask to work on new and more difficult areas?
- Did you ask to work on a new client so you couldn’t rely on last year’s work papers?
- Did you let your superiors know you wanted to attend board of directors’ or audit committee meetings?
- Did you volunteer to present in those meetings?
- Did you continue or increase your marketing efforts?
Opportunities abound during and after the end of busy season. It’s your responsibility to recognize the opportunities and then take advantage of them. It may be the end of busy season but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of these opportunities going forward as well.
6. How you treated others – Did you follow the golden rule during busy season. Naturally, you should follow the golden rule at all times, not just to the end of busy season. During stressful times, however, it means a lot to people when they are treated well.
- Did you express gratitude to your co-workers for helping you learn?
- Did you express gratitude to superiors who gave you opportunities?
- Did you express gratitude to client employees who helped you?
- Did you express gratitude to administrative staff?
Treating administrative staff with respect and gratitude is essential to me. My job could not get done without their hard and dedicated work. Unfortunately, too many people take administrative personnel for granted, especially during busy season.
The next time you see your receptionist or word processing personnel, thank them for what they do. In fact, every time you see them, say thank you. It will mean the world to them and show them how good of a person you really are.
The end of busy season is near. I wish you the best as you reach the end. It’s up to you as to whether you continue treading water or you dive in and swim to the finish line.
The end of busy season is a time to celebrate. You worked long and hard hours. You got so much done. You earned your firm a lot of money. Enjoy it.
And, remember, at no point during the year is the next busy season more than 12 months away!