As we approach April 15th or other impending deadlines, whether we are the accountant or the client, we tend to get anxious. It often feels like so much more to do than we can handle in the time allowed. Just the word “Deadline” implies something stressful in itself. Here are a few suggestions for changing our mindset from “deadline” to a “lifeline” to help prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed and bogged down in negativity or self-criticism. Stay on track taking one thing at a time and create more effective results by practicing one or all of these preventative actions:
- Take charge physically and breathe deeply, slowly, and regularly
- Make a list for the day of activities you plan to complete
- Do one thing at a time
- Review and evaluate
- Reward yourself for getting it done
Start by reminding yourself that you have successfully managed this period of the year in the past and have mostly come out feeling good about the results. Avoid the tendency to exaggerate the difficulty. Remind yourself that you have been here and done this before, so there is no rational reason to be afraid this time around.
Recognize that our physical body can be a friend in this process of prevention. When we become anxious, breathing becomes rapid. We may sweat and tend to have quick movements of our hands, eyes, or large muscle groups. It is important to TAKE CHARGE PHYSICALLY. Take time to sit comfortably and focus on slowing down the breathing – even for just a minute or two. Doing so brings your thoughts to the present moment so you minimize jumping ahead of yourself. If you’d like some additional ideas on the benefits of breathing and even creating a meditation practice, see Sarah’s blog.
The next suggestion is to MAKE A LIST OF ACTIVITIES YOU PLAN TO COMPLETE. This creates boundaries for you and reduces the feeling that the list is endless. We suggest making a weekly work-to-do list described in this blog and then identifying the top 3-5 things you HAVE to get done each day at the beginning of that day. While making the list, you can estimate how long each task may take and what resources you need in order to get them done. You can also determine the priority and push something off until later – whether later this week or perhaps after your impending deadline. Making a list, in itself, decreases the anxiety.
As much as possible, DO ONE THING AT A TIME. When you have multiple efforts or have to start and stop on the same project going at once, it is easy to feel that completion is impossible. If you are a manager, you can also consider assigning some of the work to someone else. Do your part and check it off as complete.
REVIEW AND EVALUATE each completed task. Become present to what you have accomplished and that you likely have gotten more done than you had expected. Each task involved new thoughts, feelings, and actions. Give yourself credit for creating an atmosphere internally and externally that made it easier for you to feel a sense of completion.
REWARD YOURSELF for getting the work done. This will vary from person to person. Some will put a checkmark or star by the title of the activity. Others may treat themselves to a cup of coffee or take themselves out to lunch. While others will schedule “me” time to relax and enjoy a hobby or visit with a friend. Whatever your reward is, be sure to schedule it and acknowledge yourself for a job well done. For some post-busy season renewal ideas, read Jen’s blog.
Let me know which of these ideas were helpful and other things that you do which also help with managing anxiety in busy season. We’d love to learn from you! And, good luck as you cross the finish line strong by using these “lifeline” ideas!
With Warm Regards,