Tips to help you get through busy periods at work!

 

At the moment we hear a lot how busy you all are deep in tax season, with little time for yourselves and your personal life.  As we all know tax jobs can regularly involve intense and long hours, creating a long-term lack of rest.

While this kind of stress and hard work is not ideal in the long term, there are undoubtedly situations in which unfortunately it is a necessity or makes personal sense. At times like this, we all need practical tips for surviving and thriving whilst still being fully committed. Here are some strategies that we think can help.

Allow yourself time for mental relaxation and rest

When you’re very busy, it’s tempting to try to cram productive activity, like responding to email or thinking through decisions, into any small crack of time. This could be when you’re standing in line at the supermarket, waiting for a presentation to start, or in the five minutes between finishing one thing and joining a meeting. When you are super busy, it can seem essential to work during these moments. However, you don’t have to. Instead, consider using brief waiting times for true mental breaks. If possible sit down, take slow breaths, drop your shoulders, put your feet flat on the floor and really be mindful of the sounds around you.

Give yourself a reward for working hard – Premack’s Principle

Premack’s principle encourages busy professionals to use an easier behaviour as a reward for a harder behaviour. For example, you can reward yourself for finishing a cognitively demanding task (like writing a complex tax advice report) by completing a low-key but necessary task, like thanking a colleague for helping you with some work. You could even use this time to go and pick up your dry cleaning or buy your lunch! This approach can help you pace yourself during your work day, ensuring that you get regular breaks during which your mind can shift into a more relaxed gear, while still being productive. Think of it like recovering from bursts of sprinting by doing a slow jog instead of stopping.

Recognise enjoyable aspects of tasks and celebrate doing things well

Tasks you actually enjoy can become tense, unpleasant experiences if, while you’re doing them, you’re mentally elsewhere, feeling stressed and anxious about the other hundred things on your list. What’s quite pleasurable or satisfying for you, even though it’s time-consuming? Perhaps it’s returning the call of that client that you always enjoy talking too or completing that e-learning that’s required for your regulatory role.

If you know the task is important and you’re approaching it efficiently, allow yourself to enjoy it. For recurrent hard assignments, think about the parts of it you like best at the beginning, middle, and end stages. For instance, I like the beginning stages of projects when you are working with new clients and getting to know what works best for them, however I also like the final review of reports when you can identify the last few changes that will really bring closure to all the work you have done. By articulating distinct, enjoyable aspects of tasks, you can be more mindful and savour them.

Physical rituals in your day

When we are working really hard, we can hold a lot of physical tension. This is partly due to our in-built fight/flight/freeze response to fear or stress. For instance, the evolutionary basis of balled fists is your cave-person self-preparing to run or punch. Some people breathe faster when they’re stressed. Some adopt an aggressive, dominant tone of voice or body language. Since these reactions are often unconscious, you’ll need prompts to correct them.

Decide which moments in the day you’ll use to reduce the tension you physically hold. For instance, maybe you can take some slow breaths whenever you go to the bathroom, or just after you wake up or just before you get into bed.  You can also use emotions as triggers, like “When I notice I feel stressed, I’ll scan my body for tension and soften and release any spots I find.” If you’re not sure how to do this, just try opening and closing your fists a few times, clenching and unclenching your jaw, or scrunching and dropping your shoulders. I find that I hold all my tension in my jaw and I really feel better when this is relaxed. 

This is also a great exercise to do when you are ready for sleep.  When we are overworked, it is difficult for us to relax into sleep but work your way down from your head to your toes, relaxing each part of your body as you go.

Try to include things you like with tough and stressful work situations

When under stress and busy at work people often put off activities they get pleasure from, especially when they feel undeserving because they haven’t got enough done. You can buffer yourself against the stress of feeling rushed and overloaded if you recurrently pair simple sources of pleasure with particular activities you are not as excited to do. I love podcasts, and so listen to the podcast of my favourite radio show each evening on my commute home. Just set aside just a bit of consistent time to indulge in your interest. For instance, if cooking is your passion, perhaps you could cook one of your favourite meals on Sundays evenings that you can then take as lunch for the week.

So during those times when, on balance, overworking makes short- or long-term sense (or is a necessity), you need strategies to minimise the harm to your mental and physical help. It is important to pace yourself and not let your work obligations consume you. By doing this your work productivity will improve and so will the quality of your work too.

 

 

The Tax Recruitment Company and its directors and staff do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This communication/material has been prepared for general information purposes and guidance only. This communication/ material does not constitute tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice, and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for any such specific advice relevant to particular circumstances.  You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting or other professional advisors for any specific advice following receipt of this communication/material.  

The Tax Recruitment Company and its directors and staff do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This communication/material has been prepared for general information purposes and guidance only. This communication/ material does not constitute tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice, and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for any such specific advice relevant to particular circumstances.  You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting or other professional advisors for any specific advice following receipt of this communication/material.

The Tax Recruitment Company and its directors and staff do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This communication/material has been prepared for general information purposes and guidance only. This communication/ material does not constitute tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice, and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for any such specific advice relevant to particular circumstances.  You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting or other professional advisors for any specific advice following receipt of this communication/material.

The Tax Recruitment Company and its directors and staff do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This communication/material has been prepared for general information purposes and guidance only. This communication/ material does not constitute tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice, and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for any such specific advice relevant to particular circumstances.  You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting or other professional advisors for any specific advice following receipt of this communication/material.

The Tax Recruitment Company and its directors and staff do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This communication/material has been prepared for general information purposes and guidance only. This communication/ material does not constitute tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice, and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for any such specific advice relevant to particular circumstances.  You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting or other professional advisors for any specific advice following receipt of this communication/material.

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