Art of Accounting: The end and beginning of the cycle

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The annual life cycle for accountants traditionally ends and begins with April 15 (or whatever the actual due date is). The early months of the year are involved or consumed with tax season. After tax season ends, normality begins.

Accountants are always busy—we have a good business. Almost every client we have needs something from us at least once a year. Our cash flow annuity is dependable and sustainable in perpetuity—as long as we do not screw it up by doing something really stupid like neglecting to return a client’s call or treating an inconsequential IRS notice without the proper reverence.

No other time of the year creates the rush and time pressures of tax season. Many firms have mini-busy seasons such as when not-for-profits’ tax returns are due, or employee benefit plans, or the extended corporates or individuals, or financial statement reviews and audits, but despite the tight deadlines, nothing approaches the pressure or late hours and forced weekends of tax season.

Every accountant I know does something to “celebrate” the end of tax season. I will be golfing on Wednesday with my partners Peter Weitsen, Shree Nadkarni and Don Scheier to start our golfing season—the beginning of another annual ritual.

Whether you realize it or not, a new year is beginning Wednesday—the life cycle of our practices starts anew. A suggestion is to sidestep all the neglected things that were pushed forward during tax season and categorize all your future activities into two groupings: Important and Urgent, and Important. Start on the Important and Urgent but also allocate time to the Important, keeping in mind that anything Important that is not done judiciously will move into the Important and Urgent category, adding to an unnecessary stress level. Then ignore everything else. Why do something or commit to it if it isn’t important?

Make this year significant. Start the cycle now, manage it, be smart about your time and stingy how you spend it. Do what you ought to when you ought to do it and skip all the rest. Start a new cycle. Make the year count.

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