It's that time of year again, folks. Holiday parties are wrapping up. Some of you are trying to squeeze every drop of water out of the CPA stone. And from the chatter we've been hearing, this busy season could be one of the hardest in years. Chalk this up to the fact that voluntary turnover shot up more than leadership expected. We're here now in mid-December, at the point where you and your comrades are committed to another season. The hours can get unfairly difficult at the peak of busy season. Shitty, really. You know this of course, and none of us here at GC are going to sugarcoat that ugly fact. We know that sense of there being literally too much work for one person or team to effectively work through and deliver a satisfactory product and how it can make even the calmest accountant's blood pressure rise. Throw in a difficult superior, a tight budget requiring you to snack on billable hours, and a non-responsive client and you're looking misery in the face. What I'm challenging you to do is to commit to yourself as well. No, I'm not saying you should pack up at 6pm every day. This is not about causing a stir with TPTB or screwing over the person next to you. It's about taking care of yourself. Avoid the "Associate 15.” Keep your relationship intact. Keep your sanity.
Hit the gym. I don't care if your motivation is a New Year's Resolution, preparation for a post-busy-season-beach-getaway, or training for a marathon. If you are an active gym-goer now, keep it up. If you're not, consider spending some of that beer money you won't be using at Wednesday Wing Night and put it towards a monthly gym membership. The post-workout adrenaline rush can not be matched by the strongest espresso. Squeezing 30 minutes in at the gym in the early evening will not only clear your mind and reinvigorate your spirits, but it's good for you. What's the big deal if you work until 10:00 pm instead of 9:30 pm due to a trip to the gym? You'll feel and sleep much better than if you didn't give your mind a mental rest.
Watch what you eat. One of the "perks" of working long hours is the free dinner that comes with plugging away 'til midnight. As great as it is to put the screws to your client with that $15 hanger steak or creamy Fettuccini Alfredo, but that new suit your wife gave you for the holidays will start to pinch your sides if you don't be careful. Long hours + lasagna four nights a week is worse than that weekly Beta "Golf Pro's and Tennis…Ladies" party from back in the day. I'm not saying you have to go all Caveman on yourself…just watch the mashed potatoes, okay?
Drink water, not caffeine. Keeping your brain hydrated is more important than keeping it caffeinated. If you're normally a caffeine drinker, try to keep your intake to the regular routine. Your body appreciates routine. Supplement your caffeine habits with water, as it naturally awakens your system. If you need caffeine, make it coffee or tea. Fine, push comes to effing shove and you need to pick up your spirits. Keep the caffeine pure and simple; even those 5-hour bombs have the equivalent to a weak cup of coffee's caffeine (read the fine print) plus who knows what else. Keep it simple, stupid.
Be proactive about getting home. Busy season subsequently affects our loved ones, be it our partners, kids, or good friends. Some engagement teams take turns leaving the office by a reasonable a time one day a week. Keep communication open with your team so one another can maximize that time. Make time to spend meaningful time with loved ones, whether it’s a home cooked dinner or school play. Supporting one another’s interests – as minor efforts as they may seem – will indirectly benefit your engagement team’s morale.
Don’t be a dick. I’ll keep this simple – partners and managers – don’t promise your staff the weekend off if they get 125 to-do items done during the week, only to turn around and whip out a list for Saturday and Sunday. We all know things come up, but we also know when we’re getting used like white collar day laborers. Trust me, you don’t want to be considered the Bill Lumbergh of your office.
Grab a drink. Why the hell not? If you're a senior staff member or manager, take some of your colleagues outs for a drink. Do it whenever – maybe for the big Monday night football game, after reaching a milestone on the engagement, or for Associate Steve's birthday. Recognize the team's hard work and show a little flexibility. The client deliverables will be there tomorrow.
How do you keep your sanity during busy season? What are your horror stories? Share in the comments.