The secret to a balanced accountant life.

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I was running down the rabbit holes on Reddit when an accounting intern for a Big 4 firm asked the following question in the r/Accounting group I follow. 

 

The question was this:

“I’m working my first busy season as an intern (I know you guys are rolling your eyes), and I’ve been working 11-12 hours a day. I literally am so exhausted by the end of the day and have no time to actually live and be healthy. I haven’t gone to gym all week, and I’m constantly just sitting in front of my computer.

 

How do I still do things for myself while working through this hectic time?

There have been far too many times in my own life when I would go into work at 4:00 am to go home at 10:00 pm and go into my home office to work some more, only to do it all again in 3 more hours.

I was not checking to make sure my business and life books were balanced, and I began resenting every day and becoming a person people avoided.

Something needed to change. I thought I was being mistreated for a long time, blaming it all on the work conditions, clients, or someone other than myself. I would change employment only to find the same things were occurring. I realized that the only consistency was me. That led me to believe that changing everything outside of me was not working. It was time to look inside.

The following is what I shared with @b*db****. I hope it helps you if you are struggling as you are going through the time-intensive days ahead.

I discovered that the key to balance was to look at my life like an accountant would look at a financial ledger.

Once I did that, I discovered balancing life and work is not as complicated as I made it out to be. By implementing the things I have learned from accounting, I have balanced my work and life and have seen a profit.

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Balance your life like an accountant

Pay close attention to receivables 

When it is time to collect on a day off, make sure you take it. When you are outside of the office, make sure you log that receivable by enjoying the moment. 

Know your cash flow 

Understand how much fuel is in your tank. If you are feeling burnout, take time out. Get up and walk around. Fifteen minutes of personal time or an actual lunch break will make a difference in the middle of your day. Don’t eat lunch at your desk doing work. Your ability to maintain a positive workflow is vital. If you spend all your energy, you will burn out and not complete your responsibilities.

Log Expenses

Too many times, when we work so hard, we forget why we do what we do or why we are doing it. You need always to decide if the expense is worth it. Log the time you spend so you know where and why you are spending your time.  

Record your cash expenses

Make sure you log the time you have gone above and beyond the typical 40-hour workweek. You need to collect the benefits when you swap out personal time for work like tax returns. It might come at the end of the year, but you should always see what your expenses are costing you. 

Know the difference between Invoices and Receipts

There is a difference between thinking you deserve something and collecting something. Thinking you deserve something causes resentment. Resentment makes it hard to come to work each day. But taking the opportunity to be compensated for something will change your attitude reasonably quick. Don’t mistake wanting something (Invoice) for receiving something (receipt). It is always up to you to turn an invoice into a receipt. 

Keep Personal vs. Business Accounts Distinct

Never merge the two. Give it 100%, and do not let personal things detract when working. Give it 100%, and do not let work things detract when you are on your personal time. 

Hire a professional

Sometimes, we need additional help. Additional help might come from a fitness trainer, a masseuse, or a therapist. Whatever it is, if it helps you, it is worth it.

Maintain clear communication

Never withhold communication. It is always better to say things out loud rather than suppress them. If you are overloaded, let someone know. If you can take on more work, let someone know. Always be transparent in a professional way. Too many times, I have suppressed only to blow up and look like an ass. 

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Understand Double-Entry Bookkeeping

It is vital to be aware of the purchases you make with your time and the gains you receive because of the time spent. If you are not looking for the gains or charting them, you might miss them. You will always be miserable if you do not see any gains from time spent. You will forever be looking at the costs and never the gains, feeling cheated at every turn. I know some firms demand a lot of time from you, sometimes too much, without providing any gains for that time spent. If this is the case, you need to be aware of it and decide if this expense is worth the gains provided. If not, you need to make a choice. 

Chart your accounts

You need to establish multiple accounts for the most well-rounded view of your life. Every expense or receivable does not affect the same account. Understanding this will help you know how valuable time is when pulling or adding it to that particular account. Pulling from certain accounts is never worth it. 

Prepare a financial statement

On a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, you need to reconcile and see if what you are doing is falling in line with your life goals. Is what you are doing worth it?

Leverage the future

Never build another person’s future if it means neglecting your own. I do not know any accountant who would let their business fail to save their client’s company. What good are you at that point? Always look to your future with hope. If you look at your future with trepidation, something needs to change. 

Well, there you have it, my two cents. I hope this helps. For me, it has allowed me to know when I can burn the candle at both ends and has empowered me to understand when to extinguish one of those burning wicks.

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