This year’s tax season felt like a never-ending blur of changing deadlines with no chances for a break. Typically, our team would get a much-appreciated reprieve during the summer to relax and rejuvenate with our families and friends. Our families were used to this cycle: busy tax season, then a quick vacation.
This year, though, we had to keep our heads down and work harder than we have in any other years, which meant that we couldn’t spend time with our families as usual. I asked our team about their tax season experience to help us all gain the clarity and perspective that often comes from looking at challenging times in hindsight.
An insane workload
Changing deadlines, emerging COVID-related legislation, and staying informed about disaster and relief loan programs meant that we worked overtime hours that never seemed to end. The extended due date wasn’t helpful since more project deadlines were pushed back as well.
With the constant change in legislation, PPP loan applications, and new COVID-19 regulations for working safely, we all felt burned out and exhausted. We relentlessly worked on advising our clients on the various COVID relief programs and did our best to keep tax returns moving out the door.
Finding ways to stay sane and productive
Each of us dealt with our crushing workload in different ways. I focused on quality over quantity in my personal life since my family time was minimal. When I spent my downtime with my family, I focused on being present and left work until the next workday.
Riccardo found strength in his faith and made a concentrated effort to spend time with his family during his downtime. Edie found that frequent breaks away from her desks and regular walks allowed her to clear her head and remain centered.
Maggie learned how to put one foot in front of the other, plowing through each workday with laser focus and a hard-set determination. She prioritized her health as she worked long hours, ensuring that she was eating well and getting enough sleep. She also used the Calm app on her phone to listen to the morning and evening meditation stories.
Ana found that the work-from-home setup to be distracting during her off-work hours, especially since it reminded her of her various tasks and deadlines throughout this tax season. As any accountant knows, stepping away from our desks doesn’t always mean that we leave work behind. When she wasn’t at work, Ana learned how to disconnect from her work life mentally. Taking downtime seriously let her return to each workday refreshed and ready to do her best.
How this experience made our firm stronger
As I talked with my team about their tax season experience, I asked them whether they’d seen any positives come out of it.
Throughout this year, I’ve been reminded of the incredible influence my actions have on my team. While this tax season was rough, I did my absolute best to remain positive and see this time as an opportunity to grow and become better, both as an individual and as a firm leader.
Adopting a future focus helped me use each challenge as an opportunity to improve our firm’s processes. Riccardo told me, during our discussion, that my optimism inspired him to push through.
Rising to the occasion
Each team member rose to the occasion during this tax season, trudging through a sea of changes and paperwork pileup. Our united response stood out to Edie, especially, speaking both to our team unity and our self-motivation.
I was particularly impressed by my team’s resilience despite the constant obstacles and difficulties thrown their way. Tired yet determined, they pushed through tax returns and other client work, adapting and finding ways around each obstacle.
Laughing in hard times
For Maggie, our team’s ability to keep their sense of humor was truly a blessing. Being in the same boat, so to speak, infused our team with a renewed sense of camaraderie. As Maggie pointed out, jokes helped us lighten our stressed, time-crunched atmosphere.
Being there for our clients
Ana let me know that she appreciated how I kept myself composed and supported my team, even as I filled the role of a tax preparer, CPA, and consultant. She also noted how the various challenges and relief program assistance allowed us to truly “be there” for our clients.
Onward to better years
Accounting isn’t just crunching numbers: it’s about helping our clients make the best decision for their company. In the months and years, I look forward to using what we’ve learned from this tax season to serve my team and our clients better.
It’s my earnest hope that future tax seasons will not be as rough as this one. Despite the challenges our accounting firm faced, I believe it made us more united and stronger as a team. Together, we emerged with a reaffirmed desire to serve our clients, no matter what comes our way.