Do you know how to manage your busy season? Do you know when your busy season even is?
I’m getting ready to head into the fiscal year-end at my day job and managing my busy season can be stressful sometimes.
In my world of government contracting, all government agencies have until the end of the fiscal year to spend money.
The fiscal year for the government ends on September 30th of every year (not at the end of the calendar year).
So, the fourth quarter for government agencies starts July 1st.
And, that’s when my job picks up.
You see, if a government agency doesn’t spend its budget by the end of the fiscal year, they lose that funding and they potentially risk losing some funding for the upcoming year too.
So basically the thought is always to spend every last penny to ensure you at least get the same budget for next year too.
That means everyone goes a bit crazy and needs quotes and orders placed by the end of September, so my company gets slammed with work (which is a good thing! Don’t get me wrong!).
But, when I hit my busy season, I feel like I have even less time in the day.
And, that’s probably because I don’t have time to do as many other day-to-day things as I normally would.
Because I work from home, I usually have time to stop and throw in a load of laundry or maybe clean a bathroom/toilet at some point.
Something almost like a smoke break (at least that’s what I call it, lol…smoke break, clean a bathroom…same thing…right??
(I define my “smoke break” as anything I can do for about 10 minutes that gets me up and out of my office chair.)
But, during my busy season, I sometimes can’t even do that.
It sounds crazy, but even just a 10 or 15-minute break becomes harder. There is just so much to do for customers across the country that I can’t take that “smoke break” like I normally would.
Having been through almost 10 fiscal year-ends now, I’ve learned some things about managing your busy season.
And, I thought I’d share them with you on the blog today!
First things first, how do you know when you are in your busy season?
I think a lot of people associate a “busy season” with being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Because let’s face it, their busy season impacts the entire country (literally).
Millions of people use CPAs to file taxes and it’s no secret that in the accounting world, January-April is the busiest time of year since individual taxes have to be filed by April 15th.
But, every industry has a busy season. Every job has a busy season. So, you might not think this post applies to you, but I bet it does.
Maybe you are a teacher, so your busy season is probably the end of the school year (typically May-June if you are in the United States).
Or maybe you work with real estate so your busy season is probably spring and summer when people typically put their house up for sale or move into a new one.
Even if you are a stay-at-home mom, you probably have a busy season.
Maybe it’s when your oldest is in baseball season in the spring and you’re going to a tournament every weekend.
Or, the start of a new school year, when you are trying to get back into the swing of things and having to help with homework every night.
My point is that no matter what you do for a living, you will have an influx of work at some point in the year. A time when you are just busier than others…aka your busy season.
So, if you don’t already know when your busy season is, take a few minutes to stop and think about when your busiest time of year is.
And, then keep reading to learn how to better manage your busy season!
The first thing I do to better manage my busy season is lean on my partner more.
You can’t do it all.
You just can’t.
No matter how hard you try (and trust me I’ve tried).
At some point, you will reach a breaking point and that’s never a good place to be.
So once you’ve figured out when your busy season is, you need to communicate that to your partner (or anyone that is involved in your life) and make them aware that you are going to need them more.
My husband might do more cooking and cleaning during my busy season, taking on some of my typical duties or chores to ensure things still get done.
Or, he might put our daughter to bed a few nights a week so I can work some more.
Whatever it is that he does, it’s always helpful and allows me to get more work done.
But, what’s most important is he knows that things will be different for a few months. He knows that I’m going to have to work late some nights or that we might not get our typical evening together.
My parents and friends even know when my busy season is. They might not text or call me as much simply because they know I’m busier than usual.
No matter who is in your life, it’s important that you communicate with them and lean on them a bit more than you typically would.
During your busy season, lists become your friend.
List-making for work might already be your thing (it is for me and I always suggest to-do lists as a way to be more productive at work).
But, lists for everything become your friend. Not just lists for work.
Lists of chores or things you need someone else to do this week (like your partner that you should be leaning on more during this time!)
Or grocery lists.
Task lists for work.
Lists for everything.
Don’t let it build up in your head, whatever it is. You will either forget and then be annoyed that you forgot. Or, you will be distracted trying to remember whatever it is all day.
Lists are your friend.
One thing that I’ve done differently this year is having a notepad/meal planner combo on the fridge.
This little thing has been a game-changer. And, not only do I use it, but my husband does too!
He no longer tells me when we’ve run out of something (onion powder, toilet paper, cottage cheese…). He actually writes it on the list we have on the fridge!
It’s seriously been such a good investment and I don’t know why we didn’t it sooner.
Continuing along those same lines…meal plan and prep to manage your busy season.
You might already meal plan, but if you don’t you really should.
I have always loved meal planning. I try to do it every week (although it doesn’t always happen).
But, I do make it a priority to be even more on top of meal planning during my busy season.
Knowing what we are having for dinner is so important. And, if something comes up and I need to work later, I know my husband can handle dinner because it’s already planned out.
And because we just got done talking about meal planning…you should use online grocery order and pick up.
COVID brought this to light even more and I do think it’s one positive thing that came out of the pandemic.
Online grocery shopping and pick-up are everywhere now! And, most stores have a reasonable dollar amount minimum to get to for the pick-up to be free, so it’s no longer an additional expense.
Grocery typically does save so much time.
A lot of times I find myself compiling our grocery list in the morning or evening while I’m sitting in bed (for whatever reason).
But regardless of where you choose to sit while you grocery shop online, you are doing it all on your terms.
Grocery shop at 3:00 am if that’s your thing.
Plus you don’t have to lug the kids to the store, be tempted to buy things you don’t need just because they are on sale, or wait in line at the checkout.
And, if you commute to work, you can pick up the grocery order on your way home.
Better yet, you can ask someone else to pick it up for you if you need to. Maybe your parent or partner or even a friend.
There’s always an option to add another name/person for the pick-up. And, although it’s not a big task, it’s important to you and your family and is a great way you can get someone to help you during your busy season.
Take the weekends to relax and unwind.
I don’t know if you are like me, but I’m a bit of a homebody.
Going out, doing lots of things, running all over the place every weekend has never really been my thing.
I like to get out and about, but nothing crazy or too time-consuming.
Maybe a trip to the park with my daughter or take the hour-long trip to Target one weekend (yes my closest Target is about an hour away…it makes me sad, lol).
But, that’s honesty the extent of my average weekend.
However, if you are a person who likes to do lots of things on the weekend, taking a step back during your busy season is key.
Don’t plan tons of activities and run yourself ragged all weekend long.
If you spend all weekend running around, it just makes going back to work Monday that much harder.
Make sure you take some weekends off and enjoy your downtime when you can. It gives your body and mind time to relax and recuperate.
Read a book, relax by the pool, anything that you enjoy doing.
And, don’t feel guilty if all you do is binge-watch Stranger Things one weekend.
You need it.
In fact, here’s a list of things you should watch on Netflix in case you are on the hunt for a new show or movie!
To better manage your busy season you have to make sleep a priority.
It’s no secret that sleep is a key part of your mental and physical well-being. Study after study shows us that sleep is important at any age.
But, I think a lot of adults (and especially parents!) think they don’t need as much sleep as they do.
For most adults, 7-9 hours is a good rule of thumb when it comes to how much sleep you need.
If you are getting less than that every night, you might be hurting your busy season without even realizing it.
A good night’s sleep helps you to stay on top of things mentally and physically.
If you are a new parent and sleep is a struggle, check out this blog post to help your little one sleep better so you can sleep better!
So, during your busy season, try to stick to your normal bedtime routine, even on the weekends. Go to bed at the same time and make sure you are getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
Some other things that can help you sleep better as an adult are:
- Use a sound machine or fan for some type of white noise. The Hatch Restore is supposed to be an amazing one!
- Try a weighted blanket. I have this exact one I linked. I don’t use it every night, but I do think that it helps me I’m anxious or stressed.
Be sure to eat right and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Much like sleep, what we eat and drink affects both our mood and our energy.
Drinking water, in particular, is very important to stay focused.
I often find that if I’m getting tired or a bit foggy in the middle of the day, it means I haven’t been drinking enough water.
Foods like blueberries, eggs, and nuts all offer a variety of cognitive benefits that can help with concentration and focus too, so be sure to load up on healthy snacks like that.
And, you will be happy to know that drinking coffee can be good for your brain too! Various studies have found that coffee increases alertness and improves your mood.
This study from Johns Hopkins found that caffeine can have a positive effect on your memory too.
So that extra cup in the morning might just help you manage your busy season better!
If you can afford it, consider hiring help for things around the house.
Think about what you don’t like doing or how you can better conserve your time during your busy season.
Is there something that takes up a lot of your time that you can pay someone else to do?
Maybe it’s time to hire help (just for a few months at least).
If it takes you three hours to mow the lawn every week consider hiring someone for a few weeks or months to do your yard work. It will take something off your to-do list temporarily so you can focus on getting through your busy season.
Maybe you need someone to watch your child on weekends so you can work for a few hours or you need a maid to come clean your house once a month.
Whatever it is, hiring someone might be the best option.
Don’t feel like you have to do everything.
And, if you can afford it, don’t feel bad about hiring help. I’d love for someone to come clean my toilets…
To better manage your busy season, consider working through lunch.
I know this is a total bummer, but sometimes this is what you need to do if you are in the throngs of your busy season.
For me, if it’s between eating lunch at my desk or working an hour later…I’m going to pick eating lunch at my desk all day every day.
Although I will 100% work later when I have to, I like being done with my workday by 4 or 5 pm, even during my busy season.
It’s just what my brain needs because for whatever reason I don’t function that great after 3 pm.
So sometimes to make that happen I have to eat lunch at my desk.
It’s honestly not that bad and can be a good way to manage your time more effectively during your busy season.
Start working early.
Last, but certainly not least, this is probably my favorite suggestion on this list.
To better manage your busy season, start your workday earlier.
Maybe you normally start your day at 9 am so consider starting at 8 am during your busy season.
Yes, the rest of your morning routine and schedule will have to adjust. Maybe you have to get up at 6 am instead of 7 am.
But, it’s only for a little while and you will be shocked at what you can get done in the early hours of the morning when the phones aren’t ringing and no one is sending you emails.
Starting your day earlier is a great way to get some hard tasks accomplished and one of my favorite tips for managing your busy season better.
Don’t make your busy season any busier than it has to be.
Although these tips won’t complete your work for you, they are great ways to manage your busy season and the chaos that naturally comes from it.
No matter what you do, make sure you are taking care of yourself too.
Yes, your job is important. Yes, your kids are important. Your spouse and friends and family. But, you are important too. Don’t forget that.
And, please, wish me some luck this fiscal year-end…I think it’s gonna be a doozie (in a good way…but still a doozie!).