Posted by: LYF | March 3, 2011

How to survive busy season

In order of biggest impact/easiest to do.

Sleep

This is the most important thing you can do.  You really need to get at least 8 hours of quality sleep a night.  To ensure those 8 hours are high quality try these three things.  One, eat a meal high in animal fats before bed.  This could be bacon, beef or a roast etc.  Two, lower the temperature in your room.  It should be cold enough that you’ll want to be under your covers.  You don’t want to be cold, you just want the incentive to be in your bed.  And three, get quality curtains that block out as much light as possible.  Black out blinds are best.  If you don’t want those, then get something pretty close.

Sleep will impact your entire life – your mood, the quality of your work, eating habits, mental clarity etc.  Most people will read this and say, “well I get 7 or so hours and that’s good enough for me.”  Most of these people have forgotten what it’s like to get 8+ hours of sleep 5 days in a row.  There’s no way you can compare 5 sleeps at 8 hours a night against 7 hours over the same period and say the latter was just as good as the former.

Where you’ll get caught up/why you won’t do this

Everyone likes chatting on facebook, watching tv, playing video games etc.  You’ll have to make a conscious decision to stop doing whatever it is your doing at a reasonable hour to get the sleep you need.  This will be tough and at first you won’t want to.  It might even feel lame – “I can’t believe I’m going to bed so early.  This sucks.”  But honestly, what are you missing?  TV?  Start downloading.  Video games?  Play them on the weekend.  Socializing?  Use bbm or gmail chat during the day.

Don’t feel like buying blinds?  If you’re going to be lazy just drop the temperature in your room.  It requires the least amount of effort and it will help a lot.

Food prep

After sleeping, eating well is key.  During busy season it’s really easy to get into the habit of eating out.  No one likes having to cook dinner especially after working 10+ hours.  But this can sometimes turn into a fast food frenzy of eating shit food everyday.  If you eat fast food like Mcdonalds, Wendy’s or Tim Horton’s you will get fat and slow. Don’t do this.  Go and buy a slow cooker.

Take meat and vegetables, put them in the slow cooker, add a liquid and some spices then turn it to “on.”  That’s it.  You can do this when you get home and leave it on overnight.  Waking up to the smell of beef stew is epic.

Where you’ll get caught up/why you won’t do this

Most people are nervous about cooking because they’re worried about screwing things up.  Add to that my recommendation of using something that most people in their early to mid twenties are unfamiliar with.  Two huge barriers to most people actually going out and buying a slow cooker.

Having said that, slow cookers are not expensive and you can pick them at most home stores.  You also don’t have to know anything about seasoning.  Just pick a liquid that has a lot of flavour – any red wine will do – to ensure deliciousness ensues.

Supplements

I take 8000IU’s of vitamin D and 16 fish oil pills a day.  I’ve found both to be extremely helpful when it comes to being more productive.  So one at a time.  Vitamin D will effect your mood.  It’s kind of difficult to describe.  You know that feeling you get?  When you’re assigned a messy file and you’re first reaction is “ughhh….”?

It’s work so it’s not uncommon to get more work, but sometimes you just won’t be in the mood for another notice to reader or control test or walk through or retained earnings reconciliation.  Vitamin d basically melts away those feelings and leaves you with a “sure lets get this done attitude.”  It’s really subtle and difficult to notice.  I remember thinking about a week or so after I started taking vitamin d, “I have a ton of bookkeeping files, but it’s not bothering me at all like it used to.”  I end up feeling more optimistic, refreshed and calm.

Vitamin D dosages can be tricky.  I started taking 500IUs a day for a few weeks.  I gradually upped the dose until I started noticing a difference around 4,000IUs.  My ideal amount turned out to be 8,000IUs after some trial and error.  Anything above that and I start feeling a little wired, similar to drinking a Starbucks coffee.

Fish oil has two huge benefits.  It reduces inflammation and helps with memory.  The first effect is nice because you’ll notice you no longer feel bloated after meals.  It also helps with injuries – most times there’s swelling when you’ve hurt yourself.  More importantly, it can have a huge impact on your memory and cognitive abilities.  Similar to vitamin d, it’s hard to notice.  I didn’t really pick up on it it until I was bored one day and started looking at my billable hours/how many books I was reading.

From January to May last year I read 8 books.  From June to December I read 20.  I also cut my billable hours in half working on the same number of files from June on.  I can’t say for certain that both were the result of the fish oil.  I also started taking vitamin d around that time, switched to a paleo diet and started crossfit.  But I’ve noticed that when I up my fish oil dosage I find it easier to remember things I’ve read.  And I spend less time figuring things out versus doing work on most files.

Like I mentioned though, play around with how much you’re taking and do some research on your own too.  If you’re planning on taking more than 8 fish oils a day split them up between breakfast and dinner – your stomach will thank you.

Where you’ll get caught up/why you won’t do this

You’ll think the dosages I’m talking about are waaaay too high!  And even if you’re not that skeptical, you won’t feel like putting in the effort to do the research for yourself.  Or you’ll already be taking vitamins, so it’ll be easy to say, “oh ok, I already got that covered no need to try this.”  Honestly, just try this stuff out for two weeks.  That’s all it will take to notice a difference.  Vitamin D costs about $20 a bottle, which will last you a month and the same goes for fish oil.

File prep

For audits do all the client acceptance/continuance, engagement risk stuff first.  You’ll know what to do without having to ask anyone.  Best case scenario, fill out the risk assessment forms and then sit down with whoever is going to review your work to see if they agree.  Then input the trial balance and balance the statements.

At this point most of the risk assessment stuff should be done as well as your audit plan.  The key efficiency here is sitting down with the higher-up and agreeing on the risk assessment stuff.  Not only will you get their input, it’ll speed up the work.

When you’re at the client focus on the things you actually need the client for – expense testing, receivables/payables testing, bank recs etc.  Best case scenario you’ve prepared your samples before and emailed them prior to going to the client so everything is ready for you to tick and bop once you get there.  All the other audit testing you can do back at the office or at home.

This is important – take one afternoon to do all the cycles (expenses, payroll, investing, sales) with the client.  Arrange a block of time before hand.  This is the biggest time saver.  I’ve seen lots of people try to fill out these forms based on prior year templates and information they’ve picked up during other audit field work.  The reason being, most people are nervous about “bothering the client.”  I’ve found most clients are very accommodating if you schedule a time with them a few days in advance.

Notice to readers are sort of similar.  Get the top of file stuff done quick.  It doesn’t require much thinking.  Input the trial balance and balance the statements.  Get all your source docs and put them in the file – this takes no time if the client is on quickbooks.  Import the gifi into taxprep and that’s it.

Print off last year’s adjusting journal entries so you know what to look for and compare the current numbers against the prior years’ to check for new mistakes.

That’s pretty much it.  Do the quick stuff first.  And then get help from people who are more knowledgeable than you on the tough stuff.

Where you’ll get caught up/why you won’t do this

Everyone likes doing the sections on the file they’re most comfortable with.  And a lot of new employees are nervous when it comes to talking with clients.  If all this is too much, try the notice to reader approach, while paying attention to how efficient you’re being.  Or try one of the tactics on the audit, like sitting with the client to finish off all the cycle documentation.  If it works great, try some more.  Do a little at a time to get comfortable with it.

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Responses

  1. nice timing on these helpful hints! when it gets to be hectic it can be extra tough to remember to take care of yourself. Thanks for the examples and answering some potential objections. well written piece.

    • glad to help!

  2. Hey, can you tell me how the paleo diet went? I work out like crazy, and have seen real improvement. I lift heavier, can do 5-7 pullups easy etc. etc. Now i want to get my diet in order, so i lose the fat and get more ripped. Is a paleo diet doable?, and is it easy to maintain or do you feel its a big jump?

    • I’ve been eating paleo for the past 9 months and I’m really happy with the results.

      It’s very doable, but you’ll find it very challenging the first three weeks. Especially weeks two and three. After about a month you’ll be fine. If you’re really serious about it though I’d recommend buying “The Paleo Solution” and signing up for a “Paleo Challenge” at a crossift gym (try http://academyoflions.com/). The book will give you all the technical info you need and going through the whole process in a group setting will keep you motivated.

      It’s easy to maintain if you eat paleo 90% of the time. Going 100% is close to impossible and isn’t very practical.

      To put the benefits into perspective here are some of my numbers…

      weight: 170
      squat: 305
      deadlift: 345
      Bench: 250 (tore my pec so I won’t be doing this for a while)
      press: 150
      5km: 23min

      wods
      cindy: 26 rounds
      fran: 4:35

      • Thanks for the info man. I am not even close to as strong as you, but i am getting there.


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