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Drowning in work? Here's how to get your head above water

Posted by Dr. Phil Yaeger on Sep 11, 2017 1:30:22 PM

We're getting to the point in the year where vacations are catching up to us, and winter workloads are bearing down. New work is put on top of old work, and you'll feel pressure to get it all done at once. New hires are coming in, but they don't know what they're doing, so it'll be expected that you carry a little extra of the workload. No matter the reason, the result is having a lot more than you'd like on your plate.Here are a few things you'll want to do:

1. Manage your expectations

So you've been given a lot of work at once, and you'll feel pressure to get it all done at once. You'll have too many windows open on your computer and will feel like you're bouncing around between projects. Simplify it down and think of it as if your job was to mow lawns. Say you normally mow ten lawns per week and then you show up to work and are told you'll have to mow 20. That's a lot more work, but you'll still only be able to mow one at a time! You shouldn't do half of each lawn at a time before you get back to finishing any one. It doesn't make any sense when it comes to time efficiency. Sure, you don't have to physically move between projects, but you'll waste a lot of mental energy. Try keeping it down to two or three projects at once, so you create real progress, feel a sense of accomplishment, and cut down the to-do list.

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2. Find common factors to increase efficiency

Back to mowing lawns. You'd get all the ones done in the same neighborhood first right? The same should be applied to your workload. If you have similar projects, see if you can streamline the process. Create documents and work flows that can be copied to increase your productivity. Not everything needs a fresh start and many times you'll be able to kill a few birds with one stone, or at least decrease the time it takes to accomplish certain similar projects. Work smarter, not harder.

3. Create a realistic schedule

You've probably had a boss with unrealistic expectations, but when there's a lot of work, it can be easy to have self-imposed unrealistic expectations. If you cut grass for a living you wouldn't expect to be done with two weeks of work in two days, so you shouldn't expect that of yourself in any other position. However, it does help to create a schedule of work you know you can get done. Budget your time wisely and create a plan you can stick to. This will help when new work comes because you'll be able to give a real timeline of when the work will get done. When you tell someone it'll get done in a week and a half you might be surprised how quickly they find they can do it themselves. Also, setting their expectations from the beginning will help them understand and keep them from breathing down your throat.

4. Get the little work out of the way

A lot of time we see people stressing over the length of their list rather than the actual work it contains. If you have a list of 20 things to do start by categorizing them. If 12 of those things take a half hour to do spend one work day getting all of those things done. Then, when you come back, your list will be down to eight which is a lot more manageable. Re-assess your to-do list and see how many you can knock off. This will not only decrease your stress but simplifies the mental and physical process of getting everything done.

If you're studying for the CPA Exam during this process, it adds another complicated aspect to your life. You'll have to not take work home with you, both figuratively and literally. Something that can help is a program like AdaptaPASS which tailors a study platform to your style and needs, but also allows you to set up a customized schedule that fits your life!

Tags: 2017 CPA Exam, Accounting News, AICPA

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