Being a CPA is only one part of your life - most look forward to raising families, having friends, and trying to find personal and professional fulfillment at the same time. Doing all of this during and dedicating a large portion of your life studying for the exam is daunting, but very possible.
First things first, implement what was discussed in Part I of this series! Part I was all about planning for busy season, and we hope you planned well for this time. However, life never goes quite according to plan. So expect the unexpected and anticipate needing to adjust your plans as you progress through January, February, March, and April. Some weeks at work will be more intense than others, so while some weeks your strategies may work great, other weeks will require a bit more flexibility.
Reflect, Relax, & Sleep
Take some time to reflect. With so much to do, it can be easy to just power on. Taking a break regularly to reflect an open your eyes to the root cause of your stress, to what techniques are working, key areas to improve on, how you are feelings, etc. Reflection can also help you uncover some ideas making the next week smoother, less stressful, and more productive. Also, reflection can help you remember the bigger picture, especially if you start to get bogged down in all you have to accomplish.
As part of that reflection, take a moment to evaluate how you are relaxing. Are your restful activities actually restorative? Or just as draining on your brain as working and studying are? Spending time on your phone or looking at a computer or TV screen often does nothing to rejuvenate your spirit or mind, whereas taking a walk, reading a book, or talking to a loved one often has a restorative effect. Entertainment and social media will likely still have a place in your life, but make sure they have the right place and that your relaxation time is achieving its purpose.
Get enough sleep! We cannot stress enough the importance of sleep and how our productivity actually increases when we have adequate rest. It may not feel like it, but you can probably accomplish more sleeping 8 hours and working 12 hours than you could only sleeping 5 – because your brain is so much sharper and able to focus.
Bosses, Co-Workers, Family, & Friends
Keep communication open and ongoing with your boss and coworkers, and with your family and friends. Nothing kills a relationship quicker than a lack of communication, so let your boss and co-workers know how things are going and same with your family and friends. You may not have the time to over-study, but investment some time to over-communicate.
Make a point to be fully present wherever you are. People notice when you are not truly engaging with them, and that’s incredibly hurtful, especially to family and friends. Multi-tasking is not going to get you where you want to go, relationally or vocationally, so let go of the pretense of accomplishing two things at one time and be fully present.
Rewards & Reminders
Set a reward for the end of tax season – and maybe even at key points within tax season! It doesn’t have to be expensive or epic, but building in some milestones and a sense of moving forward can be motivating and energizing. Even just checking off that you accomplished your study goal for the day may provide the boost you need to study the following day.
Whatever you do, don’t give up on the Exam during busy season! Take a deep breath (literally, stop and take a deep breath) and remember that you are still alive, and tomorrow is another day to move forward towards your goals.