Monday, September 14, 2009

How to Survive Your (First) Busy Season

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great weekend. Not to offend you or anything but we’re now back to the grind for another five days (six for some). It’s now the 14th of September, 45 days before the Halloween, 90 days before Christmas and 96 days before the New Year. But for a lot of accountants, CAs and Certified Public Accountants (equivalent of CAs in the US and in some other countries) in public practice, going into the ‘Ber months means only one thing. The busy season is coming! I can just hear myself and the other managers from my former Big 4 employer say, “Big deal, have gone through it, will go through it again.” But what about those inexperienced newbies, the junior auditors, the newly-hired CAs who are at the mercy of these managers? Just kidding. Seriously, if you’re a junior auditor in a Big 4 accounting firm (or any non-Big 4 accounting firm, for that matter), how will you survive your first busy season? The following are just some of my tips for surviving your first ever (and hopefully not your last) busy season.

Prepare yourself. Nothing beats self-preparation. Psyche yourself up for the busy season (like say repeatedly – “I will sleep for only 5 hours or even less every day.” – j/k). Get a haircut before January (as you may not get one again until the end of April). Arrange your things, your files, clear your desk and clear your laptop of unnecessary files (you don’t want it crashing during the middle of the busy season, right?). Stock up on essentials (just in case you won’t have time to go to the market). Best of all, prepare yourself physically by taking in your vitamins, exercising and eating healthy foods (sounds preachy, but hey, you need to have good health during the busy season).

Prepare your family. Okay, you may not exactly be living with your parents or your family. But you do know that they love to check on you once in a while. Just to make sure they will not panic and call 911 or the police if they can’t reach you, tell them beforehand what to expect. Give them your cell phone number (if you haven’t already) or your local number where they can always leave you a message. Above all, please tell them how long it will last so that they’ll know that until April, they need not worry about you.

Prepare your friends. If you’re a party animal, say bye-bye to your late nights and party-all-nighters. Tell your friends that you will be an anti-social person for four months (just four months, you can survive it, right?) and that you still appreciate them but hey, you need to work and to earn your living. Your friends will appreciate knowing that you thought to warn them first, instead of not answering their calls or always turning them down or standing them up for your night-out because you have a deadline.

Talk to the Other Auditors. Ask around. Know your clients during the busy season and ask those who handled these clients before. What was their experience like? Were there many late nights and even (heaven forbid!) overnights? Are there early deadlines? What do you need to watch out for (especially from your new partner or your new manager)? Satisfy your curiosity before busy season begins, otherwise, they may not be able to entertain you once your noses are on the grind.

Know Your Schedule (and Your Clients) Beforehand. Chances are, months before the busy season starts, your schedule and clients are already laid out. Before you can start applying Tip # 4, you, of course, must know who your clients will be during the busy season. If these are the same clients as those you have during the slack season, lucky you. If not, get down and do your research right away. It doesn’t hurt to know some things before you head off for the new client during the busy season.

Lastly, relax. Take it easy and don’t sweat the small stuff. Nobody really dies from the busy season. Unless you have a high blood pressure or a heart ailment and you eat fatty foods and you stress yourself out everyday, otherwise, you’ll do just fine. Set a “me” time (and make sure your teammates know about it). Some auditors would actually say no to a Sunday work. Others love to go home early every Friday since they know they will still come back on Saturday to work. Others just simply would stop working after 9 or 10 pm and go home. Whatever it is, choose a “me” time that will work for you and stick to it come hell or high water.

These are my tips. For those of you who have experienced the busy season, why don’t you drop me a line and tell me (and the readers) your tips. Will surely appreciate them. Ciao!


  1. Great post! I should be going through my first busy season this fall and I really don't know what to expect...but I'll definitely keep those tips in mind...thanks!

  2. Thanks The Advisor. Good luck. I sometimes miss the busy season in the Big 4, it's not really the same when you're no longer in it.

  3. great tips! another thing to note is to keep organized - that way you have everything you need for busy season ready... dry cleaning, packed lunches etc!