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How to Avoid Burning Out During Tax Season

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It's tax season again, and accountants and bookkeepers are busier than ever. In addition to handling scheduled appointments, you'll also likely have clients who are running behind and want extra favors as well as a host of other unexpected issues. If you aren't careful, you'll experience burnout. Loren Fogelman of Business Success Solution offers tips to help you avoid hitting a wall.

Jan 28th 2021
Price and Profit Coach Business Success Solution
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Do you agree to everything asked of you because saying "no" feels uncomfortable? As you spread yourself too thin or agree to work outside of scope, you experience burnout, resentment or cynical thoughts. It's not sustainable, especially during tax season.

Consider the client who calls you in a panic to prepare her last-minute tax return and then delivers a bag full of paper receipts. Do you agree to squeeze in an extra tax return at your regular rate? Or, do you file an extension?

When someone else's procrastination affects your workflow, you reward them for poor behavior. Unknowingly, you teach them its okay to ignore your messages regarding deadlines. You may grumble. However, you willingly accept their late docs at the last minute without penalties. 

You deserve clients who respect your time and your services. But first, you need to connect with your value before you can expect others to value your services.

Your Actions Tell the Real Story

Imagine setting guidelines regarding tax season. You work manageable hours. And, you have a response already prepared for last-minute clients who contact you. Prior to tax season, you decide to avoid burnout. This means not accepting more work than you can handle. You may feel sorry for clients with last minute rush jobs, but you don't need to rescue them.

Expect to feel uncomfortable when you first say "no." Like anything, setting boundaries improves with practice.

Some of your legacy clients may dismiss your new policies to get everything to you on time. You can name the ones who habitually miss deadlines or ignore your communications. For those clients who fail to respect your boundaries, cut them loose. This opens room for new clients who value and respect you. 

Avoid Confusion

By the way, you may unknowingly give mixed messages. What do I mean? Ask yourself if what you say and what you do differ? If so, then your actions ultimately reveal the truth.

If you desire clients who respect your boundaries, then your words need to be in sync with your actions.

I was talking with Jeff, an enrolled agent, about this earlier today. A new prospect with an urgent IRS tax filing deadline called him. Preparing this person's tax return required Jeff to adjust his already busy calendar. So, Jeff quoted a premium fee for the rush project.

Well, the prospect attempted to negotiate the rate. Then he decided to shop around the price. Finally, this client found another tax preparer to do the return for half the price.

He stood by his rates without feeling he needed to justify them.

Jeff shared this "aha" with me. Caving into this new client's demands to lower his rates would mean Jeff's prices are negotiable. As a result, this client would continue to request reduced fees. That's not the type of client Jeff wants to work with.

By the way, clients will pay a premium for fast turnaround times and guarantees. Consider how FedEx charges for speed of delivery. Instead of giving it away for free, Jeff now knows how to factor short deadlines into his proposals.

As Jeff stated, sticking with your decision teaches your clients how to work with you. He's in charge of his tax practice instead of his practice being in charge of him.

Don’t Throw in the Towel

Give yourself some slack as you set new boundaries. When you cave in to pressure or loosen up a boundary, don’t be too harsh on yourself. This doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel. Instead of quitting, gain insight from the experience. Setting boundaries in your accounting firm, especially around tax season, is a process. Similar to any new activity, you improve with practice.

Deciding on guidelines deserves a pat on the back. Don't criticize yourself if guilt appears. It is absolutely okay for you to set limits – without guilt. Self care, particularly during tax season, has a hidden benefit. It reduces stress and overwhelm.

Facing Difficult Decisions

Author Suzy Welch developed the 10-10-10 method for difficult decisions.  Ask yourself three questions:

  1. What are the consequences of my decision in 10 minutes?
  2. In 10 months?
  3. And in 10 years?

Answer these questions to consider the long-term implications. Some decisions which seem critical at the moment may have little impact in 10 months or 10 years. This offers a different perspective, similar to looking through the viewfinder with a wide angle lens instead of a zoom lens. 

Avoid Tax Season Burnout

If you’re tired of putting your self-care on a backburner, change is possible. The traditional tax season with extended work weeks and long days takes a toll. It eventually leads to burnout.

As a firm owner, you don't need to follow the tax season protocol and grind it out. It's simply a matter of choice and opening your mind to new possibilities.

Diane, a CPA, loves to golf. However, the typical long weeks and 16 hour days during tax season kept her off the golf course. So, last year we created a plan to decrease her workload without lowering her tax season revenues.

As you know 2020 was a never-ending tax season. However, she began taking Fridays and weekends off. Although the majority of clients were in California, all of her clients taxes were filed by Oct 15. 

When we first met, Diane knew she wanted to avoid tax season burnout. She simply didn't know how to make that happen. As she gears up for this next season, she's looking forward to Fridays on the golf course and weekends off. 

Tax Season Boundaries

Don’t immediately say “yes” when asked to do something. You make better decisions when you’re not under pressure. In fact, pressure causes you to react instead of consciously choose. 

Saying “no” means you’re saying “yes” to you. Challenge the status quo and envision your ideal tax season. What would be different? 

Follow these recommendations to avoid tax season burnout. Discover how to increase your revenues without sacrificing your personal time. Right NOW claim your FREE RESOURCE to earn more while lightening your workload.

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