[IMGCAP(1)]For the accounting profession, this time of year can be somewhat chaotic. The September and October 15 deadlines create a couple of months of heightened stress. Throw in year-end planning with clients, and it can be downright overwhelming.

Deep into year-end work myself, I understand what other firms are going through. So, I want to offer a few helpful tips—five, to be exact:

1.    Take a break! Meeting the September and October deadlines is no joke. So give yourself a few days to decompress and relax. A feeling of renewal can help immensely as you move into year-end planning. September 15 and October 15 have created at least two months of stress...so take a couple of days and recharge.

2.    Get out of the office and attend a conference. There is no shortage of events this time of year. It’s primetime for vendor and association conferences, which offer excellent learning opportunities. There’s Accounting Today’s Growth & Profitability Summit, the THRIVEal event, and many others. Find the conference that’s right for your needs and register.

3.    Pick one firm process to change. Get started on enhancing your firm now. You don’t have to take large strides, just a baby step. Conduct an evaluation of your firm, identify one area for improvement, and get moving on a resolution. This can be anything from tweaking an internal process (e.g., improving the paperless tax workflow) or selecting new technology to improve operations during busy tax season.

4.    Call five clients. Just pick up the phone and make contact with five of your regular clients—not your favorite clients though…pick those considered “average.” Conduct a quick client survey with these clients, asking how you can improve, what they would like to see change, and what you are doing well. These clients are more likely to provide candid feedback that you can use to improve operations.

5.    Take an employee to lunch. Take the time to take one or more of your employees out to lunch. Use this opportunity of being outside of the office to conduct a casual employee survey. Like your clients, ask staff members what they would like to see change, what’s working, what’s not, etc. Use this feedback to improve your firm’s culture moving forward.

These tips are a good start for preparing your firm for busy season. Make yourself accountable for not only working through these tips, but following up as well. You can even email me to tell me what you are doing and I’ll follow-up with you to ensure you are actually doing it. Sometimes we just need someone on the outside to light a fire and get us moving…and I’ve got the matches!

Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is a Certified Public Accountant experienced with Complex Federal & State Income Tax Compliance for Business & Individuals. Jody is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, where she teaches Taxation and QuickBooks Courses. She is part of Intuit Trainer Writer Network and speaks nationally on various Technologies and Taxation. She can be reached at www.newvisioncpagroup.com.