Art of Accounting: The rest of the year begins the day after the day after tomorrow

Register now

Tax season ends tomorrow, and hopefully you will take off April 18 so you’ll be ready to start the rest of the year on Thursday. How will you manage this?

What I usually do is spend a couple of days just organizing what has accumulated and been put off during tax season. The organizing doesn’t generate any revenue, but helps me put things in perspective and make me feel in control. I have also found that making a to-do list has nothing to do with getting work done, but everything to do with clearing my mind of the myriad things that need to be done. Clearing my mind is invaluable because then I can get a great running start the following Monday.

Let’s be realistic. My to-do list will have dozens of entries, or rather scores of entries. Some are even carryovers from last year’s post-tax season to-do list. But that’s OK since feeling in control is essential and carrying over nonessential tasks means I did not waste time on something that is not that important. You might wonder why I keep it on the list. I do it because it makes me feel that I am not skipping over anything that I might need to do. Also, recopying it on a new list requires no thought or decision. Eliminating it needs a decision. Decisions take time and might enter the brain, so it is much easier to simply recopy it.

As to what I will actually do, it is quite simple. I will do the most important thing (MIT) I need to do. There is never a problem figuring out what the MIT is. It is the most important thing I need to do. Note that you really cannot have more than one most, since then nothing would be the most. Think about that. You can never go wrong doing your most important thing. To-do list or no to-do list, the MIT always gets done.

I always find there is a letdown after tax season from the rough and tumble of the season, and I need some breathing room. However, I don’t usually get this fully until after a post-tax season vacation. A lot of work gets pushed forward and needs to be completed and this needs to be organized and scheduled. The work hours drop suddenly to a normal work week sans weekends. There needs to be focused direction to keep the work flowing. There also needs to be avid communication with clients to make them aware they haven’t been forgotten as well as to provide a due date, and if necessary, a request for additional information.

The balls need to be continuously juggled. To me that is part of the fun and stimulation of public accounting. I work much better when I am organized and feel in control and don’t need to constantly respond to client calls that could have been avoided if I had made an earlier call, which I really try to do.

Tax season is over, but the regular work isn’t. In many cases it is backlogged so the busyness doesn’t end; it just is limited to a normal work week. We’re in a great profession and should appreciate and enjoy it. I do and hope you do too.

A full Most Important Things explanation appears in Chapter 27 of my Power Bites book, which you can purchase at Amazon.com or get a free download by clicking here. If you have trouble with the download, email a request to GoodiesFromEd@withum.com, also free.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. Ed is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements.Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Tax season Tax practice Work-life balance Ed Mendlowitz