CPAs across the US are just finishing their tax season, the time of year known for long hours and compressed working schedules. Our friends in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are still going. I’m listening to the book, The Power of Full Engagement, and it is making the clear case that there is a cycle of working and resting that will make our work and lives more enjoyable and productive. The authors make the case that many professionals focus on time management, when energy management is really the key to high performance and personal renewal.
The authors are sports psychologists, and their work with high-performing athletes has revealed some points that they make in the book: 1. Full engagement involves drawing on our physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental capacities. These are the 4 areas that we all must manage. 2. Energy diminishes with over-use and under-use. It’s a balancing act. For example, if you feel drained, then you need some renewal and rest. 3. Build capacity in all four of the above domains by training. You can train yourself to better focus on the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental aspects of your life. 4. Create positive energy rituals (there are positivie ones and negative ones). High performing athletes always walk away from the net in the exact same way, or approach the field in the same way each time. Rituals allow our mental capacities to think about other important things instead of the mundane way to prepare for the game of work. Here are some ways I have found the ability to Work, Rest, and Repeat in my work and life.
1. Reduce the number of clients you serve. This has been profound to me. By raising my prices, I have learned that we only need a few clients. This reduces the busyness of each day, as fewer people are requesting things at the same time. We add clients one at a time, so we are careful to add only the clients that we can make a huge positive impact with over time.
2. Fire clients. We just fired a client that was toxic to my team and our firm. We distance ourselves from energy-draining clients as soon as possible. You know the feeling when you get that email where the client is (again) pouring negativity over you? You don’t have to allow that. And you don’t have to put your team through that. It’s amazing what you replace that negative energy with once you distance yourself from negative clients. They are hurting you in more ways than you even realize.
3. Stop tax season. If you don’t like the compressed work schedule of tax season, then you have the ability to change it. Many long-time accountants don’t believe this can be changed, but you can. There will still be a busy season, but you can dramatically change that season by eliminating as many individual clients as you can while focusing on business clients, or simply asking some of your clients if you can extend their tax returns. You may still do some tax work, but the season can be adjusted significantly.
4. Delegate like crazy. It’s always been my goal to get rid of the tasks that others can do better than me. From preparing returns, doing accounting, cutting my grass, or cleaning my house, I know that any task I allow to take up my time means I am not doing something more productive. Of course, this will look different for different professionals, but I have figured out what I should not be doing, and I try to avoid it with a passion.
5. Become a virtual firm. This has been one of the most life changing things I have done in the past few years. I have eliminated the daily discussions with my team, the requirements to get to an office by a certain time, and unnecessary client interactions whenever they feel like walking into my office. ALL of my time is now my time, and I have full control to order it in the way that best suites my Work, Rest, Repeat cycles.
6. Take frequent breaks. After each coaching session I perform with a client, I take time to get up from my desk, go downstairs, get some water, take the dog for a walk, or take a walk through the woods behind our house. I’ve learned that this renewal is just as important as the time I am sitting at my desk working. My goal is to continue to order my firm in a way to allow for higher intensity work, offset with more intense times of rest. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself that may help you develop, or notice, the important Work, Rest, Repeat routines:
- when do you feel most drained of energy? (after a certain type of work, working with a specific client, working with a specific team member, on certain days, during certain times of the month/year?)
- when do you feel most renewed? (notice what you are doing just before your renewal time)
- what is your Unique Ability? (this video is amazing, explains Unique Ability, and will convince you to do only the things that you are uniquely created to accomplish)
- what activity makes you the most money? (what is the exact task that creates a significant amount of money in a short period of time?)
- what activity are you allowing that creates no wealth at all? (consider what would happen if you stopped doing these activities immediately?)
Let me know what your Work, Rest, Repeat strategies are!
Jason is the Founder of Thriveal and the Chief Innovative Officer of his CPA firm, Blumer & Associates. He is the co-host of the Thrivecast and The Businessology Show and speaks and writes frequently for CPAs and creatives, his firm’s chosen niche. Jason loves to watch documentaries on just about anything. He lives in Greenville, SC with his wife and their three children. Stay connected with Jason by signing up at JasonBlumer.com.