How to survive busy season in a big four firm

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How to survive busy season in a big four firm

Normally, working at an audit firm is usually crazy working hours. However, the period between January to April takes the cake for how crazier it can get.

Its usually a horde of people beating deadlines, being hussled by clients, working to deliver financials by when they are needed.

You never have time to meet your friends, or have many fun activities. The best fun activity to partake when you can get the time is to just sleep. The goal is always to recharge and be alert when next you go to work .

There is that feeling of restlessness that comes at this time. The nagging feeling that you are forgetting something. And yes, you are always forgetting something.

It feels like your to do list keeps getting longer every day. And the clients keep piling up. And review notes is the gift that keeps giving.

And I am in that precise spot right now. I am learning to implement a few coping mechanisms that have come through for me.

1. I write a priority to do list every time the number of deliverables changes.
Usually, a client closing meeting may be moved up, meaning you need to work more on the agenda for the meeting and the management letter for that meeting and pause the work on your current client.

Currently I am working on two organisation audits and a project audit. I start a new client next week, when all these other clients are in various stages of completion. Msaning, depending on review notes and the speed of provision of documents, there are constant changes to the take that need to be done.

So I have found that it helps me a lot when I amend the priority tasks to perform every four hours.

This could be due to something the client has failed to respond to and you don’t want to forget, it could be a additional information request. I use a hard copy note book for this because it gives me immense satisfaction to physically cross off tasks as complete.

In times when a task or deliverable is super urgent, I write the task using a different colour pen so that it can stand out from amongst the myriad other tasks.

This helps me deal with the many urgent tasks that keep cropping up in the middle of the day.

4. Progress over completion. ThratThis is important. Looking at the bigger picture may leave you feeling as if the work load really cannot be finished. So focus on moving forward as much as you can every day.

5. Yes, sometimes your social life will suffer. There are days I need to go to an event after work and yet there are also deadlines waiting to be implemented. If I go to an event and all I feel is anxiety for pending work, usually I will turn down the event and get the work done, because I end up not enjoying the meeting, or the date or said activity.

6. During times when you feel like your brain cannot handle the pressure, take effective breaks. Now for most of us, the breaks we take include checking Twitter and Facebook. Then continuing to work.

And it may help a bit. Next time your brain feels like it is overheating, step out of the office and go sit outside, a place with trees would be perfect. Don’t carry your phone. Just sit outside in nature, away from screens and spreadsheets. (Insert picture of trees). Stay there for twenty minutes, till it feels like your mind has created enough space to breathe again (you know that feeling you get as if your brain is now sighing in relief?).

7. Consult. Consult. Consult. Talk to the team that did prior year audit so as to better understand the client. Consult the client on their processes when you don’t understand them. Consult your manager on treatment of accounts that may not make sense for you. It saves you time when you consult, and busy season is a period where time is a rarity.

8. Do a thing for yourself for at least thirty minutes. During busy periods at work, it feels like your life had been consumed by work. There is a thing about working withlooming deadlines that causes one to feel like they are living on survival mode. So one thing to do is to remember to create something to look forward to, for yourself. Listen to a scintillating audio book on your commute. Go to the gym over lunch time.

Step out for lunch and give yourself a promise to take an hour of just taking that break. Plan an activity over the weekend to really look forward to. The other weekend I could hardly wait to go GP karting with some friends. The adrenaline really came through, and the activity cost me only about an hour off my day. Find activities that break that mental overdrive. An intense physical exercise is highly recommended.

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