4 Tips for Maintaining Productivity and Sanity During Tax Season

These days, drugstores put out Halloween candy in August, and the malls are decked out in Thanksgiving hues even before fall arrives. Retailers may overdo it trying to get ahead of key dates, but tax accountants know April 15 can sneak up with little warning.

There's no need to panic, though. Here are four tips on how to manage your time and workload — and ease stress levels — during tax season.

1. Do a little fall cleaning

Every minute counts, so establish time-saving habits now. Organize your computer and workspace so productivity isn’t slowed by unnecessary document searching.

Consolidate sticky-note to-dos into one list, and cross off finished tasks for a visual representation of what you have completed. Seeing proof that you’re chipping away at your workload can help keep stress at bay.

Also set up shortcuts on your computer. You can enhance efficiency by establishing rules for your inbox and deleting unused folders or files that slow down your eyes and machine.

2. Enjoy some quiet time

Consider mixing up your schedule to see if it helps boost your productivity. For instance, arriving earlier than usual can give you a jump on projects that have to take a back seat once tax season is in full swing. Coming in early will allow you to work when your mind is at its freshest and the office is free of the day’s hustle and bustle. Even the most focused tax accountant can benefit from the quiet of an empty office.

Find time for what you enjoy, too. Investing time in a good book, hobby or TV show can give you a well-deserved break from tax thoughts.

3. Crunch celery

The craze of tax season and corresponding heavy workload can make unhealthy but quick food options tempting. Stress and poor nutrition can wreak havoc on your immune system, though. Develop a healthier routine now, so you’re more likely to stick to it later.

Prepare healthy snacks to take to work. Load up on brain foods like pumpkin seeds — filled with healthy fats — or blueberries, which in addition to being a delicious and convenient snack can fight stress and, according to Tufts University research, help prevent cognitive decline. And don't neglect your workout. Exercise is a well-known remedy for stress.

4. Look out for your team

Managers must be on constant guard against issues such as burnout and fatigue affecting their teams. Little things count: Celebrate individual and group wins, and look for opportunities to reward staff. For example, when workloads allow, find a day to let staff leave early. Bringing in snacks occasionally and providing perks, such as tickets to the movies or a ballgame, also show people you value their efforts and keeps them motivated.

When workloads spike too high or you need additional expertise, consider bringing in a consultant. Tax professionals can come in on an interim basis to ease the burden on staff and complete key initiatives.

How do you maintain your calm and productivity during tax season? Share your tips in the comments section below.