Piles of paperwork, jam-packed waiting rooms, phones ringing incessantly. Ahh, good old tax season.
I know you had a checklist and did everything possible to get prepared ahead of time, but now that it’s in full swing, is there anything we can do to make sure it’s stress-free?
All right, so stress-free is bit of a stretch. But between the substantial amounts of caffeine, large workloads, and long hours, there are a few things you can do for a less stressful and perhaps even fun season.
First, come to terms with the long hours. Counting or dreading the 12 hour days, working on weekends, and practically going home just to sleep, will only make your days longer and stress you out even more. The best thing you can do is embrace it and keep in mind this is only temporary. And when you feel like the long hours are taking a toll on you, close your eyes and think of that nice summer vacation you have planned, use it as motivation to get to the finish line.
Next, stay organized. This may sound like a given, but often times working in an untidy and unorganized office will certainly affect your productivity and possibly increase your stress level the most during tax season.
You might have started the season with the best intentions of keeping everything organized. But let’s face it, second week into tax season and you are frantically going through your piles of paperwork, trying to find your client’s W-2, while feebly saying: “I put it right here. I know where it is.”
Many tax professionals create piles because they don’t have a system for organizing their stuff. A filing cabinet can probably be found in every tax office in the country, but are you actually making good use of it? A good practice may be to not leave the office every night until your desk is uncluttered. Or come in a few minutes earlier every morning to get organized and ready for the day.
If you are like me and prefer a more modern approach, there are numerous secure and easy-to-use paperless tools out there that can certainly streamline processes during the busy season. Scan or take pictures of documents and file them via a cloud storage app like Box or Dropbox. If you have clients sending you documents electronically, make sure they send via a secure connection.
If you haven’t taken our mobile app Connect for a spin, I highly suggest you do. I can’t even begin to tell you all the ways this app can help save you time and reduce stress during tax season. For starters, the chat feature on the app allows you to communicate effortlessly with your client during the filing process. And the best part, messages, documents, and payments are transmitted and stored securely on your Dashboard for future reference. This feature alone eliminates guesswork, miscommunication issues, and the occasional phone tag games, which we all know can become very frustrating and stressful.
I know. That file cabinet is now looking antiquated. But let’s move on.
I’d say my last piece of advice is the easiest one to apply but one we tend to forget or take for granted. Have fun and enjoy.
There are many activities you can do around the office to provide some liveliness to the long busy season hours. Our NJ headquarters recently debuted a pool table that is living its first busy season now. We are already planning tournaments that will award winners bragging rights around the office.
Popular activities at Refundo you can make your own include: casual or themed dress-up Fridays (we switched it up to formal Fridays), lunch or dinner catered for the team a few times a week, trivia contests, a Nerf gun shooting range (if you have the space) to release some stress.
Finally, remember to observe the deadline. Come up with something creative that your entire team will enjoy and celebrate the end of another successful refund season.
These little extras will not only make your tax season fun and less stressful, but it also helps your team feel appreciated for their hard work.
Feel free to share some of the fun things you do in your office during tax season using the hashtag #taxprotalk on social media.