Dec 5 2023 /

Managing accounting stress: 12 ways to minimize burnout

Managing accounting stress: 12 ways to minimize burnout

Accounting is an incredibly important yet demanding profession. Even small mistakes can lead to serious legal and financial consequences, placing immense pressure on practitioners. According to research by caba, the chartered accountants benevolent association, 55% of accountants reported suffering from stress and burnout – significantly higher than the 41% of employees in other industries. 

A graph showing accountants' stress rates compared to other industries

In this article, we’ll explore the factors that make accounting so prone to high stress and offer practical advice for coping with it.

What makes accounting stressful?

A multitude of factors embedded in the workflow, workplace culture and career landscape contribute to sky-high stress levels among practitioners. Here are the key stressors that accountants face:

  • Heavy workloads: 87% of accountants cited this as a great stressor, leading to burnout, as per caba research
  • Long hours: yet the same study says that 72% of respondents pointed to an amount of time spent meeting deadlines and overworking
  • Little room for error: at the same time, 63% of professionals say complexity and accuracy demands cause extreme stress 
  • Disruptive financial closes: 81% of accountants reported disruptive financial closes wrecking their personal lives at least once a month
  • Automation threatening jobs: 42% of accountants felt overwhelmed by the quickening pace of technological development, jeopardizing employment
  • Economic uncertainty: 1 in 5 chartered accountants said today’s cost-of-living crisis is stalling career progression and raising fears of layoffs

For more on why accountants experience burnout and how to thrive during industry changes, read our blog,

12 ways to overcome accounting stress

1. Automate accounting processes

Working long manual hours while trying to flawlessly handle routine accounting tasks can be overwhelmingly stressful. Accounting automation offers relief by streamlining repetitive processes, including:

  • Budgeting and money management 
  • Financial reporting
  • General ledger management
  • Tax return preparation 

Automating these manual responsibilities directly alleviates burnout and frees up time. Ultimately, both your clients and your wellbeing win when automation lightens your load. Check out our accounting process automation guide for more details on implementing automated workflows in your practice.

2. Utilize practice management software

To streamline workflows across your entire practice, you can utilize practice management software. This consolidation of document, team and client management minimizes manual work by automating the main repetitive processes. With such comprehensive tools, accountants can optimize efficiency while regaining control over demanding work. 

TaxDome, a workflow automation software for tax, bookkeeping and accounting firms

When it comes to practice management, TaxDome is among the most efficient options available. For comparisons of the top accounting software picks this year, see our detailed blog post

3. Prepare for busy seasons 

Careful preparation is key to managing workloads and stress during peak accounting periods. Strategies such as clearing schedules, establishing priorities and bringing on temporary staff can help accountants minimize anxiety. For more tips on thriving during busy season, see our guide.

4. Take regular breaks

It’s easy to get sucked into work and feel like you can’t spare even a few minutes, but short breaks will boost productivity long-term. Taking regular breaks during the workday ca help you recharge:

  • Step away from your desk often to clear your head
  • Set a timer if needed to remind yourself to stand, stretch or take a short walk
  • Grab a snack or coffee for a mental reset

5. Avoid multitasking

While multitasking may seem efficient, it often reduces efficiency despite feeling productive in the moment. Consider resisting the temptation to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously. Instead, we would recommend focusing your attention on completing one task at a time and minimizing workplace distractions. 

6. Establish boundaries

It is critical to draw clear lines between your professional and personal lives and leave work at work:

  • Make it a rule not to do work tasks at home in the evenings or on weekends
  • Disconnect from email and disable work notifications on your phone outside of office hours
  • Have a dedicated workspace separate from your living areas if you’re working remotely

With strict boundaries, you can fully recharge and avoid carrying constant stress into your downtime.

7. Speak up about workloads

If your accounting workload starts to feel truly unmanageable, don’t just push through and suffer. Suffering in silence only breeds resentment and burnout. Instead, try speaking up to your supervisor or management about work distribution concerns. There may be room to adjust deadlines, reassign responsibilities or hire additional staff. 

8. Prioritize quality sleep

Sleep is absolutely vital for both physical and mental health, yet it’s often the first thing sacrificed when workloads mount. To avoid burnout:

  • Prioritize getting quality sleep of 7-9 hours per night
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
  • Wind down from work at least an hour before bed
  • Limit screen time at night
  • Use apps such as Sleep Easy to improve sleep hygiene

Sleep Easy, a 14-day strategy to help you fall asleep and stay asleep, even during stress

Good-quality sleep boosts focus, productivity, mood, and immunity – all protections against stress. Make sleep a non-negotiable block in your schedule. 

9. Engage in activities outside work

Making time for hobbies, socializing and self-care can provide balance to offset workplace demands. Consider pursuing activities outside of work that bring you joy and fulfillment, such as:

  • Regular social engagements with family and friends
  • Traveling or vacationing
  • Reading 
  • Engaging in arts, crafts or music
  • Volunteering in your community

10. Maintain physical health

Caring for your physical health can directly support your mental wellbeing and resilience against stress. Aim to:

  • Follow a nutritious, balanced diet
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day
  • Exercise regularly, even if brief workouts

When your body feels energized and strong, you’re better equipped to handle workplace challenges. 

11. Practice mindfulness

Meditation and yoga can be helpful to build resilience against workplace stress and anxiety. By bringing focus inward, such practices encourage relaxation and reduce reactivity to stress. Headspace and other apps can provide accessible guided meditations. 

Starting a regular habit, even 5-10 minutes daily, may strengthen your ability to handle demanding situations. 

12. Implement humor

An image showcasing an accounting meme about busy season

Humor and laughter offer proven stress management benefits, acting as a powerful counterbalance to workplace stress. If you and your coworkers make it a habit to share accounting jokes whenever things get too serious, you will have a quick way to lighten the mood. To always have access to the best field-related comedy, follow social media accounts or blogs curating accounting memes.

Wrapping up

The high demands of accounting routinely lead to heavy stress. But implementing proactive coping strategies can help safeguard your wellbeing. Key tactics include automating workflows, taking breaks, establishing boundaries, optimizing sleep, adding humor, practicing mindfulness, speaking up about workloads and maintaining life balance through hobbies and exercise. With the right stress management approach, you can sustain a thriving accounting career for the long haul. 

Mari Sam

Mari Sam is a content writer at TaxDome who is passionate about crafting compelling copy. Her job is to ensure that TaxDome clients fully utilize the platform's latest features and enhancements. Through clear communication of updates, changes, and new capabilities, Mari produces engaging content that enables clients to make the most out of the platform.

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