Here’s How I Cope With Tax Season And Avoid Procrastination.
I’m An Accountant, Mom, Wife, Writer, Coach and My Tax Returns Are Filed!
By Samantha Keith
Truth be told, taxes are not my forte. I actually hire tax accountants for my business and personal income tax return preparation. This is one of the best things I ever did, because it relieves the fear of missing something. Whether it’s a new deduction I’m able to take or analyzing the impact of tax law changes I feel more peace working with trusted advisers in their field.
I like to joke, I know enough about income taxes to be dangerous. I’ve probably learned more about tax laws in my twenty plus year career than I care to. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way when I uncovered some inaccuracies in some prior year tax returns when the tax accountant relied on a software packages ability to convert a client from accrual to cash basis financial statements improperly. It’s important to trust your gut and ask questions about your return since it’s ultimately your responsibility. After I decided to change tax accountants when he couldn’t answer my questions satisfactorily, I learned from a local newspaper he was arrested for tax fraud. So ask questions and listen to your gut. Your gut doesn’t lie.
I used to try and do all our tax returns (personal and business), but it created so much stress I barely had time to eat, sleep and see my family. I used to justify not taking care of myself due to my career choice. In fact, I’ve had bosses who’ve told me that I needed to suck it up and accept that working non-stop during tax season came with the territory. Not true.
If you struggle with procrastination, hiring a tax expert can help overcome this habit. Since most tax accountants won’t want you to wait until the day before the deadline to compile your information they can help you by providing a sense of urgency. Once, I was actually crawling into the post office in Boston before they closed the rolling door. This was before electronic filings, and returns had to be postmarked by the due date. Don’t let this be you!
Before I hired someone to help me with my returns. I used to reward myself with a once a year massage after busy season. Which most years was fine, until I ended up unable to move my neck after a deep tissue massage gone wrong. I’ll never forget, lying on the massage table face down when the therapist told me she’s never seen so many knots. My back was filled with stress. As she began to work them out, I could feel my eyes welling up with tears. I was in so much pain. I tried to breathe through the pain, in hopes that breaking them up would help with some chronic back pain I’d been having by working so many hours. I couldn’t do it. I told her to stop. A couple days later, I could barely move. I had no range of motion in my neck and ended up walking to a local chiropractor (I couldn’t drive) and ultimately in physical therapy because of muscle damage from the massage that was too intense. If you’re in pain, listen to the small signs before they become big ones!
I still get stressed out a little bit during tax season. The nice part, is that I no longer sacrifice my sleep, nutrition or exercise. In fact, I increase my self-care during tax season. This year, I gifted myself with extra massages to help me get through the season. I used to see massage as a luxury, but as I approach my fiftieth birthday and juggle my accounting clients while building a part-time coaching business self care actually helps me be more productive! Massage is so beneficial and having gone through my first tax season by increasing my self-care, I can see that it makes life more enjoyable. Sure, I still had “those days” and yes, I missed a few workouts here or there.
What I didn’t do? Put my life on hold.
What I didn’t do? Make my health unimportant.
What I didn’t do? Forgo all fun until after my deadlines were meant.
I did have to say no to some important things to me. Things like volunteering so I could be present at my youngest son’s basketball games and be around for my oldest son’s journey to college. Just in case he needed me, though he clearly doesn’t want me around as much as I want to be around, but that’s another story! I didn’t do it all, but I tried to make time for the things that were most important to me. This included frequent trips to the wineries with my husband too!
If you struggle with stress, anxiety and making self-care a priority during tax season you are not alone! Somethings that help me cope during this time are yoga and meditation and limiting time on my phone. Treating myself to little rewards along the way keep me from burning out and feeling overwhelmed. Saying no can be difficult, but in the past I’d end up saying no anyway, just at the last minute because I’d work myself into sickness or because I wouldn’t give myself enough time to meet all my commitments. It gets easier to say no, when you are clear about your goals!
If you think you don’t have enough time for self-care, think about what you will do if you end up sick. Thrive Global has just launched their new app and it’s helping people take back control of their time. In today’s age, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the information at our fingertips. Most of us already have all the knowledge we need to overcome stress. We just need a little help implementing and staying accountable to what we know.