Getting balanced in 2023

January 12, 2023

Janese ShepardBy Janese Shepard, CPA, CGMA

“So much to do – so little time.”  If CPAs had a coat of arms, this would likely be our motto.  Our schedules seem to perpetually revolve around one deadline or another.  Technology has simplified many aspects of our lives, but it also makes it increasingly difficult to separate our work life from our personal life. 

It can be overwhelming.  Many of us burn out – or at the very least start to feel a little singed around the edges. 

With all of the demands on our time and energy, how do we find the balance we need to thrive?  And before you take a look at your overbooked calendar and think, “Nobody got time for that,” you might consider the consequences of failing to achieve a balance.  Plus, failing is much better than the long-term effects of mental stress, unproductivity, irritability, anxiety, depression, drug or alcohol abuse, weakened immune system, higher risk of strokes and heart get the idea.

When seeking a positive work-life balance, there are no one-size fits all solutions.  Individually, that balance may change depending on our stages in life or even our day-to-day mindsets. The particulars may vary for each of us, but here are a few basics to consider.

Establish boundaries.  This is so difficult to do when you have family texting you at work and work e-mails popping up on your phone when you get home.  You may not be able to control when you receive texts or e-mails, but you can control when you respond.

Oftentimes we overcommit on a daily basis, which affects our ability to navigate and properly establish time management. Set manageable goals each day and determine your priorities. This will help you be more efficient with your time at work. Also, it is important to prioritize your top tasks and do them first. 

Consider professional activities outside of the office.  The OSCPA has a number of committees and resource pools that provide an opportunity to utilize your professional strengths in a less stressful environment.  Being involved is a great way to meet your colleagues, give back to your profession and have an impact on its future.

Plan your vacation and days off in advance.  This may be my favorite piece of advice, as trip planning is a specialty of mine.  Finding a great location and scouting the best restaurants and things to do gives me something to look forward to during the busiest times of the year.  Then, when the trip comes, it’s like that guy from the A-Team used to say, "I love it when a plan comes together!"

Treat your body right by staying active and eating healthy.  How do you find the motivation to exercise when you are exhausted after a long day at work?  Really – I’m looking for suggestions on this one.  As the weather gets warmer, I do enjoy some “dirt therapy” in my garden.  Eating healthy (ish) is a little easier for me because I love to cook, and I make an effort to meal prep in anticipation of busy season. Finding little ways to improve your physical health can make a big, lasting impact on your mental health.

And I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice– unplug.  That’s a tough one, I know, as we are constantly feeling the demands of coworkers, clients and family members. Allowing time to unplug will help you establish boundaries, creating the mental space you need to recharge. In addition to my dirt therapy, my go-to unplugged activities are reading a good book and piecing together quilts.

What about you?  How do you seek that balance in your life to adapt and thrive?

Janese Shepard, CPA, CGMA, is a partner at Gray, Blodgett & Company, PLLC in Norman, Okla.—an OSCPA 100% VIP Firm. She has been a CPA since 1997 and OSCPA member since 2001. She has served many OSCPA committees, and currently serves the Society’s Executive and CPA/PAC Committees. Shepard is the 2018 recipient of the OSCPA’s Rick Kells Outstanding Tax Professional Award and 2014 recipient of the Norman Chapter Distinguished CPA Award.