The Tax Preparer’s Guide to Avoiding Burnout During Tax Season

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There’s no doubt that tax season can be stressful. Ideally, efficient workflows and healthy boundaries help stress feel manageable. But if it starts to feel constant and overwhelming and is accompanied by feelings of total exhaustion and cynicism towards your work, you might be facing burnout. Burnout refers to a specific type of work-related stress that leads to feelings of mental and physical depletion, deep unhappiness with your job, and eventually, leaving the profession altogether. The good news is you can protect yourself from burnout and enjoy a long, fulfilling career as a tax professional. These steps can help you work efficiently and stay centered, even through tax season. 

Make your software work for you 

Your tax software can be your greatest asset or biggest headache during tax season. At a minimum, it should support all of the forms you need, allow you to quickly and accurately calculate returns, and make e-filing easy. Another factor that might not be as obvious is your software’s customer support during tax season. If you do experience trouble with your software during tax season, you could lose hours or days of productivity. With TaxSlayer Pro, you have access to unlimited support. Also, you can be sure you won’t lose valuable work time to technical difficulties. Compare our tax software packages to find the option that’s right for you. 

Automate wherever you can 

Ideally, the majority of your working hours during tax season will be devoted solely to preparing returns, with minimal attention to other administrative tasks. Some huge time savers include: 

  • Creating a paperless filing system 
  • Offering virtual tax preparation for clients who’d prefer to skip face-to-face meetings 
  • Using a scheduling software that allows clients to request appointments online 

We know it can be tough to create new workflows when you’re already busy, but some changes are simple enough to implement even amid tax season. Getting started with the Taxes To Go mobile app, for example, requires minimal setup and instantly saves time for both you and your clients. For other ways to simplify your workday with digital solutions, see our 10 Tasks You Can Automate to Save Time and our tips for Optimizing Your Workflows

Simplify home tasks where possible 

Once you’ve automated wherever possible in the office, consider doing the same for basic tasks in your home – at least for the duration of tax season. If your budget allows, paying for grocery delivery, house cleaning services, or meal prep kits can take some of the stress out of daily life. Even if you usually prefer to handle these tasks yourself, try taking them off your plate temporarily. If doing so frees up room for work, sleep, and relaxation, then it might be worth it. 

Get outside each day  

Sometimes, the simplest tips to avoiding burnout are the most effective. In all of our focus on workflows, efficiency, and automation, it’s easy to forget about our basic needs. Getting a little sunshine and fresh air each day can do wonders for your mental health and sense of well-being. Ideally, you could break up the workday with short walks around the block for a quick reset. Some days, getting outside may just mean taking your laptop outdoors as you work. That’s okay too.  

Set boundaries to protect your health

Tax season will always come with additional stress, but that doesn’t mean it has to take over every facet of your life. Set boundaries that make sure your basic needs are still met. At a minimum, that should mean getting adequate sleep, eating regular meals, and staying hydrated. We know it’s tempting to burn the midnight oil to complete as many returns as possible. But doing so leads to less efficiency and focus during working hours and sets you up for burnout.  

Consider hiring additional employees or seasonal workers 

If your client population has grown so much that you simply can’t manage the load alone, it may be time to expand your business and hire additional tax prepares or other employees. If hiring and onboarding aren’t possible in the middle of this tax season, then after the filing deadline, you can begin to plan for the next tax season. You’ll feel relieved, knowing that you’ll go into the next tax season with more help and less stress. 

Evaluate & improve each year 

Remember that avoiding burnout is a long-term game. Use each tax season to evaluate your current workflows and habits and identify ways you can make the next tax season better. Do you need to switch to a cloud-based tax software to make working from home easier? Was work manageable, but you couldn’t keep up with your home tasks? After some reflection, try to brainstorm ideas that could help solve the issue next tax season. Each year, you’ll hopefully find yourself more prepared, less stressed, and less likely to face burnout.  

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