Work-life balanceAs a CPA, I give clients (as well as friends and family) a lot of advice on how to create and manage personal, business, and HOA budgets. While most of us do an effective job planning for work and expenses, we don’t effectively incorporate work-life balance into our balanced budget calculations. The cost can be immense, from decreased productivity to increased healthcare costs and loss of enjoyment of life.

Work-life balance advice from a CPA?

You’re probably right in thinking that CPAs aren’t very good resources for mentoring others on work-life balance. We live for four major tax deadlines each year, working around the clock to get client tax returns completed and filed. Sleep and family take a back seat to production during those crunch times, and then we spend the rest of the year catching up.

I’ve been a CPA for over 30 years, and there are two main reasons that I’m still at it:

  • The support of my wonderful wife
  • I budget time for clients as well as time for myself

Incorporate work-life balance into your 2017 strategic plan

There are more articles written about work-life balance than one person could ever read, but here are four things I’ve learned over the years that may help you improve your work-life balance:

  • Schedule private time like you would a meeting. This way you have it built into your day, and are less likely to let other work or meetings get in the way. I set aside specific time to go to the gym, blocking my calendar early in the morning before the daily fire drills kick in.
  • Incorporate non-work goals into your goal-setting process. This could be as simple as achieving 10,000 Fitbit steps each day, but we went all out and set a goal of visiting every major league baseball park. It took us 8 years of vacations to achieve that goal, and we had a blast visiting all 50 states along the way.
  • Take mini-breaks during the day. I use lunch out of the office as a way to recharge. A friend of mine uses his daughter’s afternoon carpool as a chance to escape work for a while. Supposedly, your brain is hardwired to shift attention about every two hours, even if you don’t want to. Take a break, return refreshed, and keep your brain at maximum effectiveness.
  • Start small, but start today. Don’t wait, thinking that you just need to get past some milestone. There will always be another excuse, and you’ll end of looking back in regret. As one of my clients likes to say, “What’s the sense of making money if I can’t use it?” Do something for yourself today.

If you love your job, let it go…

One of the things I consistently hear from clients is that their job or business can’t survive without them, even for an hour or two each day. If it can’t run without you, it will never grow beyond you.  Use absence as a test of your leadership ability, and you may find that you’ve created or are part of a great team that can operate without you for an hour, a day, or a week.

I’m going to reward myself for completing this blog post by going out to lunch. Please share your ideas and experiences, and I’ll expand this blog post to include more tips.

Neal Bach, CPA