Follow these tips and strategies to help you manage your workload, stay organized, and maintain balance during the busiest time of the year.
Every accounting professional knows that no matter how diligently you plan ahead, the busy season can still be an exhausting and stressful time. You’re likely working long hours, missing your friends and family, and trying to meet deadlines that seem to be coming at lightning speed.
In this busy season accounting survival guide, get tips to help you stay focused and weather the next few months with ease.
Table of Contents
When Is Accounting Busy Season?
Busy season can vary depending on the type of work you do, but for most bookkeepers, accountants, and tax preparers, the busiest season of the year generally takes place between January and April 15th in the United States.
That’s the standard tax filing season, where tax accountants work long hours preparing and filing client tax returns and handling tax planning for the coming year. But during the first quarter of the year, accounting professionals are also hard at work closing the prior year’s books, issuing W-2s and 1099s, and preparing payroll reports.
It’s audit busy season for public accounting firms, too. Auditors are spending long hours at the office planning audits, testing client financial records, and opining on calendar year-end financial statements.
Whatever busy season looks like for you—or if working 60+ hours per week is your default state year round—this guide will help you work efficiently and get more done in less time at any time of year.
Improve Your Workflow
Standardized and streamlined workflows are essential to any successful accounting practice—during busy season and throughout the rest of the year. Not only does it help to ensure that your workload is handled efficiently, but it also helps maintain your client’s trust by providing reliable and consistent results.
Having a standardized workflow can help reduce time spent on mundane tasks and prevent costly errors that often lead to wasting time redoing work.
Begin by creating detailed task lists and estimating how long each task will take. Then schedule all of those tasks and deadlines into your workflow management system. This will help ensure you complete all your tasks on time and don’t forget anything in the rush of busy season.
Resources for Managing Your Workload During Busy Season
Want detailed advice for improving your workflows? Check out the following articles.
- Everything You Need to Supercharge Your Firm’s Accounting Workflow. Why your team needs airtight workflows, which workflows you need, and how automation and integrations can save you time.
- Here’s How to Build a Better Workflow With Your Clients in FreshBooks. How to use the features available in FreshBooks to collaborate easily with customers and offer exceptional value.
- How to Make Accounting Automation Work for Your Firm. Benefits of using automation in your accounting practice and 8 key accounting processes you can start automating right now.
Work With the Right Clients (And Fire the Wrong Ones)
If you want to maximize your profits (and who doesn’t?), prioritize finding and working with your ideal clients. These clients understand the value of your services, are willing to pay for them, and provide you with a positive experience overall. Working with the right individuals and small business owners can help reduce stress during busy season, allowing you to focus on more important tasks.
On the other hand, working with people who don’t understand your value or are challenging to work with can be costly, cause you to waste too much time, and just generally make your work life pretty miserable.
If you have these kinds of customers in your practice, it’s time to let them go to free up resources for the right clients.
Resources for Right-Sizing Your Client List
For detailed information on how to build relationships with the right clients and fire the wrong ones, check out these resources:
- From Client Management to Client Relationship-Building, for Accountants. Learn how to manage your practice effectively through every stage of the client lifecycle and strengthen relationships to build a roster of loyal clients.
- How to Get Accounting and Bookkeeping Clients: Experts Share 5 Best Tactics. Get real-world tips from accountants and bookkeepers who’ve been there/done that on how to attract new clientele and pre-qualify before you accept them into your practice to ensure they’re the right fit.
- Do You Need More Clients, or Just Better Ones? Learn how to define your ideal client and turn challenging clients into good ones.
- 5 Ways to Work Better With Your Clients in FreshBooks, for Accountants. Get tips for using the collaborative features in FreshBooks to help your clients run their businesses more efficiently and work with you more effectively.
- Difficult Accounting Clients: How to Handle Them…and When to Let Them Go. If you’re tired of dealing with difficult clients who are taking up a lot of your time and effort, follow this step-by-step plan to fire them without burning bridges.
Make It Easy for Clients to Self-Serve
Teaching clients how to self-serve is integral to providing excellent customer service in the accounting and bookkeeping industry. It not only saves time for both the client and accountant during busy season, but can help build stronger relationships between them. Customers who know how to quickly answer their own questions or make changes to their accounts are more likely to feel empowered and in control of their finances.
You can make it easier for your customers to self-serve in several ways, such as by automating repetitive tasks, setting up automated reminders, and offering online education and support resources.
Resources for Making Busy Season Stress-Free
Check out the following articles for detailed advice on how to do this:
- How to Coach Your Accounting Clients to Self-Serve (While Growing Your Practice). Learn how to increase profitability in your firm by giving clients easy-to-use tools, training, and other resources that allow them to handle some of their own data entry and administrative work.
- 10 Essential Accounting & Bookkeeping Tools to Set Up Your Clients for Success. An overview of bookkeeping tools that can help you (and your clients) increase efficiency and make tax time easier.
- Accountants and Bookkeepers: Your Tax Return Checklist for Clients. Snag this tax preparation checklist and give it to your tax practice clients to help them collect everything they need to get their taxes done (and hopefully send it your way well before the deadline).
Use Tools That Make Things Easier
There are a lot of tech tools and services that can make life easier for accounting firms during busy season. From scheduling appointments to simplifying payroll and automating manual, mundane tasks, leveraging technology can free up your capacity to focus on higher-value work.
Take the time to research different accounting software options, tools, and services. Read reviews, and test out a few before settling on those that meet your needs.
Resources That Can Have a Positive Effect on Your Workload
Here are some recommendations to get you started:
- Best Productivity Apps and Integrations in FreshBooks: 2023 Roundup. Learn about some of our favorite apps and integrations to turbo-charge your productivity in 2023.
- Accountants: How Tallyfor Integrates With FreshBooks for Easier U.S. Tax Returns. Learn how to combine FreshBooks and Tallyfor to simplify the process of making all book, tax, and reclassifying journal entries with just a few clicks.
- Accountants: How FreshBooks’ Bank Reconciliation Simplifies Bookkeeping. Of course, you know what a bank rec is, but make sure you’re not missing out on any of the special perks that make up FreshBooks’ Bank Reconciliation feature so handy.
- How to Manage Your Clients’ Chart of Accounts in FreshBooks. Tips and best practices for managing your small business owner clients’ chart of accounts in FreshBooks.
Get Support From an Accounting Community
Running an accounting and bookkeeping business can be a real challenge. Between client demands, new technology, and ever-changing regulations, it’s essential to have support from peers who understand the industry. Finding an accounting community with like-minded professionals is an excellent way to stay on top of trends and get advice during busy season.
Join an industry-specific forum or LinkedIn group, attend local accounting and bookkeeping events, or simply contact other accountants and business owners in your network. This type of collaboration will not only provide you with valuable insights but can also create meaningful connections that help grow your business and expand your professional circle.
Resources for Connecting with Other Accountants and Bookkeepers
Here are a few ideas for where to find those invaluable peer connections:
- Welcome to the FreshBooks Accounting Partner Program. Find out what sets the FreshBooks Accounting Partner Program apart from other peer networks and the benefits of joining.
- 5 Reasons to Join the FreshBooks Accounting Partner Community. Learn what our members say they love about the FreshBooks Accounting Partner Community.
- 20 Accounting and Bookkeeping Organizations and Associations Worth Joining. Discover other accounting and bookkeeping peer communities that can help you network, build skills, and uplevel your practice.
Make This Accounting Busy Season the Best One Yet
The bottom line is that if you want to survive and thrive during busy season, it’s crucial to have systems and processes to help you manage your time and energy. Working with the right people and technologies can make a big difference, as can getting peer support.
If you’re looking for more ideas on how to streamline your workflows or ways to stay balanced during your tax or audit busy season, be sure to check out the Accounting Partner Program. With Partner benefits like ongoing skills training, exclusive client discounts, and participating in the online Accounting Partner Community, there’s sure to be something that can help make this busy season the best one yet.