Surviving Audit Busy Season: 21 Tips for an Easy Busy Season

We spoke about it before, but audit busy season is one of the worst times of the year for auditors. Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to make audit busy season much easier. With these 21 tips, you’ll be able to survive audit busy season, recover, and be ready for the next one.

auditor in busy season

1. Take a High-Level View of Busy Season

The first thing we encourage many auditors to do is to take a high-level view of audit, busy season. When is it going to start at your firm and when will it end? Take a mental picture of how many clients you will be on and when they need to issue.

From here you really need to see what needs to be done to meet the deadlines. Having a good understanding of what needs to be done to issue the audit opinion will help reduce stress in the busy season going into the busy season without a high-level view leaves a lot of auditors, flustered.

2. Break it Down Day by Day

auditing at Deloitte

Audit, busy season is a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t want to be tired and week four when there are two more months to go. It is crucial to pace each day month and week and busy season to avoid burnout.

When you think about a day in busy season, you should look at when you’re going to start, what you need to accomplish, and when you are going to end the day. There should also be time for a little bit of exercise and your planned meals, of course.

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3. Avoiding the Office Chatter

Busy season days are going to be busy. While there’s a time and place for office chatter, you might want to limit it during busy season not only will you have an increased workload but your peers well as well. 

When it seems like every second counts in busy season, you’ll need to look for areas where you can reduce time. One of them is chatting gossip with other work colleagues. It may not feel like you’re reducing much time, but every second counts, and hopefully you can reduce some of the Saturday time spent in office.

4. Put the Phone in the Desk

Most people don’t realize how much time they spend on their cell phone in the day. What is the easy fix? Put your phone in your work desk or go a step further and leave it in your car.

Eliminating your phone from your workday except for emergencies can free you up and get you out of the office earlier. Not only will you be more focused, but you’ll limit the interruptions and distractions of scrolling through your phone. If you don’t think you can go a whole day without a phone and then try to reduce your usage to your lunch break and around dinner.

5. Don’t Pull the All Nighters

No all nighters in audit

Sometimes an audit, there is peer pressure to work very late in office or even at home. Don’t give into peer pressure and have some reasonable cut-off times for work. Don’t play the game of sitting in your office chair when you have no work. It’s too common with staff, but they feel peer pressured to work later than they need to.

If you are working till 11, 12 or past midnight, then make sure to speak to you your manager, or partner about the hours that you were putting in. If you really have to pull the all-nighter, don’t forget to include those hours on your timesheet.

6. Avoid 7 Day Work Weeks in Busy Season

Everyone has heard the horror stories that some auditors work seven days a week and busy season. Don’t let that be you, even if you are in the big four make sure you take a day off to rest and recover. 

If you are working Monday through Saturday, then don’t be putting in the hours on Sunday as well. It will only lead to burnout if you are trying to do seven-day work weeks. Once you get through busy season, you will see that there is no prize for all those seven-day work weeks coworkers have completed.

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7. Have a Mentor to Catch Up With

There will be times in busy season that you want to complain and get stuff off your chest, it’s normal. Make sure you have a solid mentor or someone you can trust at your accounting firm. It’s always a good idea to grab lunch every now and then and expressed how you’re busy season is going.

There’s no way to fix a really bad busy season unless you speak up and speak up early. Most of the time, busy season issues can be resolved if they are just raised to the appropriate personnel.

8. Take Advantage of In-Office Perks

Depending on where you work, there can be some pretty nice perks. From the occasional team event, team, dinner, or in-office masseuse, busy season tends to have more perks than the rest of the year. Make sure you take advantage of them, have a bit of fun and keep the stress levels down.

9. Don’t Skip Meals

We’ve all been there, working so hard we forgot to eat. You really need to prioritize you’re eating times and busy season unlike any other time of the year.

It’s almost like accountants are notorious for missing meal times. Don’t skip breakfast. Make a little bit of time for lunch and to our next point use the firm your allowance for dinner.

10. Use The Firm Meal Allowance

Some accountants like to use them your allowance for groceries or just bank the cash. Ideally, you should at least be getting yourself something to eat for dinner as we mentioned before don’t skip those crucial meal times and busy season. Not only is it the time for a momentary break but you can also keep your health levels up by eating a proper dinner.

11. Eat Healthy in Busy Season

eating healthy in busy season

What is the proper dinner though? It’s not using them allowance on fried chicken, that’s for sure. Since you’ll be at your desk for so much time during the day, consider swapping out one of your meals for a salad, a wrap, or just something healthy.

Arguably, there’s never a better time to count calories than busy season unless you want to put on a bit of weight. The worst is firm-ordered Saturday meals when there is pasta, pizza, and cookies. Try to eat healthy and busy season and your body will certainly thank you.

12. Avoid Social Media

Hopefully, you put your phone in your desk but if you haven’t the one thing you should stay off of social media. There’s no worse feeling than not having a lot of time in the day, and then scrolling it away on social media. 

It might give you that quick dopamine hit to scroll through social media, but save it for lunch or bed if you have to. Ideally, you shouldn’t even be on your phone before bed so you can get a great night sleep. Just let everyone know you are disappearing from social media for a few months and there won’t even be an issue.

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13. Don’t Forget to Exercise

Unless you want to look in the mirror at the end of April or June and have gained 10 pounds, then you will need to work out during busy season. Make sure to set a bit of time at lunch or after work so you can fit in some time to exercise.

Exercising in busy season goes hand-in-hand with eating, healthy and good sleep. To perform best and busy season you are going to want to do all three. One easy way to exercise more busy season is just get up and take a few walks during the day. If you don’t have time to go for a run or lift weights then at least try to hit a step count for the day.

14. Prioritize Sleep

What is the right amount of sleep? Not 4 hours and not 6. Aim for getting 7-8 hours per night in busy season. It may feel like a big ask if you are working late but your body and mind will thank you. It’s been said that inadequate sleep can also lead to weight gain. 

By just making sure you hit your targeted sleep per night, you’ll put yourself in a better position to perform during busy season.

15. Embrace Flexible Work

Not all accounting firms allow flex work in busy season but a lot do. Take advantage of working from home a bit in busy season. If you can fit in 2 days a week at home then it can make all the difference. You won’t have to fool with a commute and sometimes can get more work done as you’ll have more hours in the day when working from home.

16. Limit Your Caffeine

less coffee in busy season

Bad sleep can also from caffeine. Too much caffeine and as people say it, you’ll be wired. Pumping in black coffee after black coffee isn’t the solution to surviving busy season. 

Instead, switch some of your coffee intake for tea or drink a bit of decaf. You don’t want to be that guy or gal drinking 4 coffee a day in busy season. Don’t be them.

17. Keep a Real Social Life

Keeping a social life and becoming a heavy drinker in busy season are two different things. It’s better to do the former than the latter. If your firm offers nights out like bowling, laser tag or baseball, take advantage of them.

Having a strong support group is one of the best ways to get through busy season. You are going to need someone to talk to aside from clients. You’ll probably want to see someone other than just a computer screen.

18. Delegate if Possible

We stressed it before but you can’t do it all yourself. Work will pile up and you will need help. If you can utilize staff under you then be sure to do so.

Even if you can assign work to other staff when you are busy, don’t be afraid to do it. Busy season is a team effort and deligating will help you survive.

19. Set Mini Milestones in Busy Season

Picture this, it’s week six in busy season and you are feeling in the dumps. Your friends are off skiing and you are working a Saturday and a Sunday. You need to build in mini milestones. Whether that is coffee break rewards, ice cream or a mini trip of your own during busy season, set some dates in your calendar.

It is easier to get through busy season when you have something to look forward to. When all your looking forward to is the end of busy season, it can seem very far away. Treat yourself a bit in busy season, you’ve earned it.

20. Automate Your Excel

Practically busy season is much easier if you have less work to do. One way to have an easier busy season is to get good at Excel. Automate some of your workbooks if possible and become proficient with macros.

The more time you can cut off from repetitive tasks means that you will get back a bit of time. It is one secret to winning back those busy season Saturdays.

21. Call in Sick

There are times in busy season when you just have to do it. The dreaded sick call. While you shouldn’t be an abuser of sick days, mental health is key. If your body is telling you that you need a break, listen to it.

Surviving Busy Season in Accounting: Final Thoughts

You’ll make it, trust us. Surviving busy season isn’t hard when you set yourself up for success. Yes, the hours stink and it may be dark outside when you get off but remember that it isn’t forever. The time will fly by and you’ll be into a lighter period before you know it.

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