Busy Season…..The mention of the words raises the blood pressure level of every Big 4 accountant. The long hours, tight deadlines, and constant pressure can be grueling for even the most veteran accountant. It starts around mid-January and lasts through March for auditors. For tax accountants, it lasts all the way until April 15th. It can be easy to lose your mind during this time and become burnt out. In fact, busy season at a public accounting firm is often why most choose to leave the Big 4 world.
In order to help you survive your current busy season or the one you may encounter your first year as a Big 4 CPA, I have put together a list of things you can do to make it through this tough time.
- Accept the long hours: The long hours are going to happen no matter what client you have. If you accept this going in, you’re going to be much better prepared going in. Further, expect to work the weekends. Maybe not Sunday, but probably every Saturday. One year I had to work 30 days in a row while I was on a SEO audit. 30 Days!
- Try to work in some exercise: During my second busy season, I made it a point to work out at least three times a week. Sometimes it was before work at 5:45am or after work at 11pm. Either way, I made sure to get it in. I also worked out at least once on the weekend. A quick 30 minute workout is a great stress reliever and it also helps keep you fresh at the office.
- Go out to lunch with your team: On the public audit I was on, our team would go out to lunch almost every day. I made sure to always go. It’s a great break from being in the office and you also are able to talk about something other than work. You’ll start to build a camaraderie with your team as well which will help everyone get through the long months.
- Enjoy the little things: Along the same line of team lunches, enjoy the little things that occur during busy season. Relish bagel Friday or make it a point to bring in breakfast every Friday to share with the client. Be the one to make coffee or drink runs in the afternoon. At one of my clients, we would always have someone go get Sonic drinks. We saw this as a nice reward each day and it was something to look forward to.
- Do things on the weekend: No matter how tired I was or how early I may have had to wake up the next day, I always tried to make it out with friends Friday and Saturday night. It’s another great way to de-stress. Being with friends will always bring up your spirits.
- Find great music to listen to or even checkout podcasts: Days at the office are long. You need something to get you through them. Finding some great music or listening to your favorite podcast is a great way to make the day go by faster. I highly recommend Spotify.
- Plan your after busy season vacation: Planning my upcoming vacations was a great distraction from busy season. It’s how you reward yourself for all the hard work you put in the spring. Go big with your vacation. One year, I traveled non-stop for two weeks. It was awesome.
Busy season at a Big 4 accounting firm is tough and no one looks forward to it. If you come across someone who does, they’re lying. In the end, use the tips above and come up with your own little things to help you make it through. At times, it may seem as though you won’t make it, but you will. We do every year.