Balancing a Healthy Lifestyle with a Busy Season Schedule

schneiderAs most CPAs know, surviving busy season can seem like quite a challenge. With our priorities focused on meeting client deadlines and billing hours, taking care of ourselves sometimes gets put on the back burner. Stress, exhaustion, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise can begin to take a toll on our physical and mental health; this can in turn effect many aspects of our lives, including our work. As our less-than-stellar health habits impact our productivity, we need to work even longer hours to get things done, and so the downward spiral begins. As we prepare for the 2017 busy season (yes, it’s right around the corner) here are some easy and realistic tips to stay healthy, happy and productive along the way.Healthy Eating. When working long hours, many of us survive on takeout eaten in front of our laptops, supplemented by easy snacks and lots of caffeine. While bringing healthy meals to the office would be ideal, and may even be the norm during the off-season, this is often not feasible during busy weeks. However, heavy meals low in nutritional value tend to make us feel sluggish. Use these tips to keep your productivity high, and avoid the dreaded busy season weight-gain.

  • The healthiest snacks take the least time to put together: fruit, nuts, baby carrots or pre-cut veggies. You can buy these once a week (maybe on your way to work Monday morning) and keep them in your desk or the fridge. This will help you stay away from the office candy bowl during the day.
  • Browse the takeout menus from your office’s go-to restaurants in advance, and find some lighter, healthier options. When the time comes to order dinner, you’ll save time by already knowing what you want, and reduce temptation to opt for a heavier meal.
  • Takeout portions tend to be very large, and when multitasking (eating while working) we often eat more than we mean to. When your meal arrives, instead of eating right out of the box, put a suitable portion on a plate and the rest in the fridge for later. This will prevent unintentional overeating, and can provide another reasonable sized meal or snack for later.
  • Opt for healthier beverages during the day. Try unsweetened iced tea instead of soda, leave the sugar out of your coffee, and always drink plenty of water!
  • Many employers are looking for ways to keep their employees healthier. Suggest to your office manager keeping healthier snacks in the office. In many areas, delivery services are available to drop off fresh fruit to workplaces on a regular basis for a reasonable price. It can’t hurt to suggest it!

Staying Energized. Working nonstop for ten or more hours per day takes a toll on our minds and bodies. As we begin to get tired, we lose focus, and our productivity declines. The less efficiently we are able to work, the longer our tasks take us, and the more mistakes we are likely to make. Use these tips to stay refreshed, alert and energized all busy season long.

  • Take five or ten minute breaks several times per day. You can set a reminder on your phone or in your calendar. Use this time to stand up and get your blood flowing. Take a walk outside and think about your weekend plans, or call a friend to say hello; stroll around your office and quickly catch-up with your coworkers. Give your eyes, neck and shoulders a break from staring at the computer screen, your mind a break from the task at hand, and your legs a much-needed stretch. Investing some time in re-charging throughout the day will increase your productivity, and can actually decrease your total time in the office.
  • Avoid sitting down all day long. If your office has standing desks, try utilizing these from time to time. Another option is to stand when you don’t need to use your computer, for example during conference calls. While doing the same work, you’ll burn more calories by standing up versus sitting down. If your employer allows it, try sitting on a stability ball (you can order one online) instead of your normal desk chair. This will keep your core muscles more engaged, and improve your posture while you work.
  • Schedule wellness time for yourself. With client work dominating your schedule, workouts, massages and other healthy activities that would otherwise be routine can easily get out-prioritized. Make these a commitment as important as any other meeting, and put them in your calendar! You’re less likely to blow off an appointment that’s visible on your schedule than one that’s only scheduled mentally.
  • Another way to stay committed to your fitness routine is to work out with a friend. This can be as simple as finding a coworker or two to go for a walk or run with after work one day per week. Even the busiest CPAs can find 30 minutes here and there to go for a walk, and you’ll motivate each other not to skip your workouts.
  • If you feel comfortable doing so, suggest your employer get involved in making some healthy changes in the office. Some examples include providing standing desks or stability balls for employees or sponsoring a team of employees in a fitness event such as a 5K. Again, it can’t hurt to ask!

As we head into busy season, it’s important to stay committed to maintaining our health as well as our professional obligations. So keep these tips in mind, and share them with your coworkers. Cheers to a happy and healthy busy season!
Sophia Schneider
Crowe Horwath LLP