Top 10 Brain-Healthy Tips for Busy Season

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by Rick Telberg

Ahhh, busy season. For tax and audit professionals, it’s a demanding time of year, composed of late nights, early mornings, anxious clients, and, of course, deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. It’s a wonder with all the distractions and frustrations that any accountants survive.

Over the years, however, some of the most successful practitioners have learned a few things about maintaining concentration and improving motivation through the marathon. Here are a few of their tips….

  1. First of all, prioritize. “If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by all the things you have to do in your life, remember that you can only do one thing at a time. Prioritize. Work down your list and do the most important one first,” suggest researchers at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.
  2. Focus on what has been accomplished. Instead of what worrying about what has not been accomplished, maintain a positive mindset. Concentrating on the work at hand can also be a bit challenging in today’s tech-hungry society, which is composed of ringing office phones, chiming cell phones, e-mail, the Internet, and faxes. Such external distractions are on top of any internal distractions one may be experiencing such as personal stresses or lack of sleep.
  3. Maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Experts agree that improving concentration begins with a healthy lifestyle. Try to avoid sudden high intakes of sugar as it causes the blood sugar level to rise and then drop sharply, which can cause drowsiness; get regular exercise; drink plenty of water; and try to maintain regular bedtimes. If less sleep is required to get the work done, consider going to bed at your regular time but getting up earlier instead. However, there’s also something to be said for listening to one’s “body clock.” Some believe they are sharpest in the morning versus the evening or vice versa. It may be best to try the more difficult tax returns, for instance, when at you are mentally at your best.
  4. Get comfortable. Choose a chair that supports the back and is comfortable (but not so comfortable you doze off).
  5. Clear clutter. Organize your desk and put away those items not needed for the job at hand.
  6. Take regular breaks.
  7. Be sure there’s adequate light.
  8. Rest your eyes. Working at a computer is strenuous on the eyes, so relieve eyes from the glare of the computer by covering them with the palm of the hands for a moment.
  9. Check your meds. It is important to also note that some prescribed medications can affect concentration and memory, so if you are on medication and believe it may be a factor, you should discuss it with your doctor.
  10. Let go. If a lack of concentration is a concern, there are some techniques that may help improve it, such as one dubbed, “Be Here Now.” University experts note, “When you are thinking about not concentrating, you are not concentrating. Do not try to push any particular thought out of your mind. When you are trying not to think about something, your mind is occupied and you are not concentrating. Just let the thought go like a breeze, say to yourself, ‘be here now,’ and return to the present.”

Ahhh. Now that feels better.

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COMMENTS: Questions, rants, or raves? Write Rick Telberg.

Copyright © 2008 Bay Street Group LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. First published by the AICPA.

One Response to “Top 10 Brain-Healthy Tips for Busy Season”

  1. Mark R. Kolman

    Hi Rick,

    I like your 10 brainy health tips. They’re right on target. You’re better than Yahoo.