Have you ever watched an athlete and wondered how they do what they do? Of course, some of that ability they were just born with. But a lot of it has to do with the way they train. For many of these elite athletes, they’ve spent a lifetime preparing to compete on the worldwide stage. So perhaps we can learn a few lessons and apply them to preparing for busy season.
Lesson #1: Schedule downtime
The top athletes plan out their training schedules way in advance – sometimes up to four years ahead of major competitions – to ensure they reach specific performance goals. Those schedules include intense workouts as well as rest.
Grab your calendar and look at the next few months. You will likely be working long hours, but plan for some downtime, too. Just like an athlete needs to give their body time to recover and repair in order to build strength, your body and brain need sleep and mental downtime. Going full-throttle hour after hour, day after day and week after week may seem like a good idea when your to-do list is a mile long, but it actually can actually have a detrimental effect on your productivity. You become forgetful, make more mistakes and end up accomplishing less than you planned.
No matter how busy you get, carve out some time for sleep and other activities that revitalize you. Take a quick walk around the block in the afternoon, resolve to eat lunch away from your desk at least once a week, or schedule non-negotiable time with family and friends on a Sunday afternoon. That investment will pay dividends when you return to work rejuvenated and more strategic about what you want to accomplish.
Lesson #2: It’s all about teamwork
Many athletes perform solo on the ice or slopes but make no mistake: everyone has a team of nutritionists, coaches, trainers, doctors, physical therapists friends and family who helped him or her get there.
Make sure you have the right talent on board to see you through busy season. Just as an athlete builds a diverse team of professionals with varying skills, you’ll need a diverse mix of professionals to meet the demands of your business and your clients.
Once you’ve built your team, make sure they understand why they’re there. The athletes and their teams devote their lives to the games, often at considerable personal expense, because they are on a mission to demonstrate their skill and show the world that people from all over the world can work together.
Remind your team of your firm’s mission and how they contribute to the strategic plan. It’s a good reminder that we’re all in this together, an incredibly powerful thought when it feels like there aren’t enough hands to get all the work done.
Lesson #3: Focus on quality, not quantity
When athletes train, they know that they’ll get better results and prevent injuries by doing fewer reps correctly than by doing a higher number with poor form.
During busy season, it’s tempting to try to fly through the work as fast as you can so you can cross more completed tasks off of your list, but taking such shortcuts will cost you in the long run.
Everyone makes mistakes but do yourself a favor and take the time to review your work before you send it out. At best, typos, missed deductions and other errors in your work will mean you have to redo it once the error is caught. In a worst-case scenario, it can lead to fines, audits and lost clients.
Being a gold medalist is about more than just putting in time at the gym, and being the best accountant is about more than just crunching numbers. Take these lessons from some of the world’s greatest athletes. Their examples of dedication and discipline will help get you through another grueling busy season.
To find out which accounting positions are at the top of the podium in 2018, check out our infographic.