When Things Seem Unfair

Let’s kick off this episode with a few questions that get right to the heart of the matter:

Have you ever felt like something wasn’t fair? It happens to all of us, and figuring out why we feel that way can teach us a lot about ourselves.

How does thinking something is unfair make you feel? Does it affect your mood or how you act? Sometimes, feeling that things are unfair doesn’t just stay in that one moment; it can sneak into how we feel and act in other parts of our lives.

Can you think of a time recently when you thought something was unfair? Maybe it happened at work or in your personal life. Pinpointing these moments helps us understand what’s behind our ideas about fairness, whether it’s in our job or with our friends and family.

Do you make decisions differently when you think something’s unfair? The idea of fairness can actually change how we make choices. It can influence our decisions, making them more about how we feel in the moment than what might be the smartest choice.

How do you usually react when you face something you think is unfair? Everyone has a go-to reaction, whether it’s getting frustrated, getting mad, or taking a step back to think. Exploring these reactions helps us see how we handle tough situations.

In what ways does feeling like something’s unfair affect your relationships, both with friends and at work? The feeling of unfairness isn’t just a solo act; it can affect how we get along with others. Understanding these effects gives us a full picture of how our ideas about fairness shape how we connect with people, whether it’s in our personal life or on the job.

So, as we dive into this episode exploring why things seem unfair and how it plays a part in our lives, these questions are like a map, guiding us to better understand our own thoughts and how they steer our experiences.

Here’s the thing – while things seem inherently fair or unfair, it’s still important to understand why things seem unfair.  Stay tuned because there’s a fascinating reason that will help you regain control when things seem unfair. 

Why things seem unfair

The most important thing to know is that our brains act like fact-checkers, always on the lookout for what it considers as fairness. It’s not just a preference our brain has; it’s a fundamental need.

Because fairness is a primary need for the brain, a sense of fairness can create a strong reward response.  Your brain responds to its interpretation of being treated fairly the same way it responds to winning money or eating chocolate.

On the flip side, a sense of unfairness can generate a threat response that can last for days.  This threat response is your brain’s way of protecting your survival, often preparing you for a fight or flight response.

In other words, when your brain perceives something as unfair, it triggers a defensive response. It’s your brain saying, “Warning.  This could be dangerous!”

I’ve mentioned this before on the podcast, but our primitive brain, the part that runs our life 80 – 90% of the time, has been with us since humans lived in caves.  The issue is that this part of our brain’s ancient survival instincts hasn’t quite caught up with the intricacies of modern living.

That’s why it’s important to understand that our brains have this default setting to, more often than not, see situations as potentially unfair, acting like an overly cautious friend warning us about possible bumps in the road. This tendency goes way back to when our ancestors needed to be on high alert for survival. 

The problem is that the primitive part of our brains haven’t fully adjusted to the nuances of today’s world. So, even something minor, like traffic or a coworker that’s slacking, can trigger this ancient survival mode, interpreting it as an unfair, dangerous situation.

Unfortunately, living in a world that seems inherently unfair is like navigating a maze with a blindfold on. Your brain, in its attempt to keep you safe, often interprets various aspects of daily life as potential threats. 

From minor inconveniences to more significant challenges, it’s like viewing the world through glasses tinted with the color of unfairness. 

That’s why understanding why our brains lean towards unfairness is crucial. Sometimes, this inclination goes into overdrive, making the world seem more unfair than it truly is. 

Think of it like untangling a ball of wires and charger cords.  By recognizing where these mental entanglements arise, you’ll be better able to restore balance and harmony.

What happens when things seem unfair

Now, let’s talk about what happens when our brains think something’s not fair – it’s like the ripple effect after dropping a pebble in a pond.

First, have you ever noticed how complaining can become a habit? In episode #20, I talked all about how complaining affects your intelligence so make sure you check that out.

The thing is that when we convince ourselves that life is a series of unfair events, it’s like playing a never-ending sad song. This constant complaining isn’t just background noise; it can become a never-ending tune that we listen to, day in and day out.   

Start picturing your brain like the person in the front seat controlling the radio dial in your car, only allowing sad songs to be played.  Because it’s always scanning for things that it can interpret as unfair and seemingly dangerous, it makes it challenging to switch to a more uplifting radio station.

The truth is that believing that everything is stacked against us can negatively affect our view of the world. . 

Suddenly, people seem more difficult, situations appear insurmountable, and life feels like a perpetual storm. The truth is that recognizing how our minds shape our outlook is crucial because altering this perspective can be a game-changer in navigating life’s challenges.

For example, let’s say you’re at the grocery store, waiting in the express lane. Suddenly, someone with way more items than allowed hops in front of you. All of a sudden your brain goes from zero to annoyed or angry in seconds.  It’s as if your brain has a fairness referee blowing the whistle at every perceived violation.

In situations that feel unfair, your primitive brain leaps into action. It’s like having a vigilant body guard that spots potential threats everywhere. 

I remember during my own coaching session, I was complaining about some situations that I felt were unfair at work.  The coach said to me, “Who says things are supposed to be fair?”

That question stopped me in my tracks.  What if nothing has gone wrong?  What if life wasn’t meant to be fair all the time?  Then what?    .

The key for all of us is to be aware of how our minds react to unfairness. It’s not just about the situation; it’s about how we let it shape our emotions and, consequently, our behavior. 

You have to begin to pay attention when you believe something is unfair and notice your actions and reactions.  Are they helpful or useful?

It’s about navigating the balance between our brain’s automatic perception of unfairness and what would be a more helpful or useful interpretation.  .

What to do when things seem unfair

Now that you know why things seem unfair and what happens, let’s talk about shifting your lens from “unfair” to “understanding.”

This starts with differentiating between facts and opinions.  How do you do that?  Well, if the situation could be seen differently by different people, then it’s not a fact, it’s an opinion; even though it seems unfair.

When deciding whether something is a fact or an opinion, it’s helpful to know that a fact is often boring and neutral; an opinion is often more dramatic and creates an emotion.

Facts are indisputable and could be proven in a court of law.  On the flip side, opinions are subjective and open to interpretation. 

Understanding the difference between a fact and an opinion is incredibly important because while we typically cannot do anything about the facts in our lives, we do have control over our opinion or interpretation.

Examples of fact-based and opinion-based situations:

Fact #1: You’re assigned a specific project at work.

Opinion: I always get the challenging tasks. .

Fact #2: Your friend cancels plans.

Opinion: They prioritize other things over our plans; it’s not fair.

Fact #3: You receive constructive feedback on a presentation.

Opinion: Others get praised, and I always get criticized.

As you can see, these simple examples show you that your opinions shape how you perceive neutral facts in your life.  The amazing thing about having a human brain is that you also have a higher part of your brain that can question your opinion of the facts and can offer you a different perspective. 

Awareness is the key.  This is what I most want you to get from this episode – things aren’t inherently fair or unfair; it’s how your primitive brain is choosing to think about the facts of your life that creates the perception of fairness or unfairness.

If the belief that life is consistently unfair persists, you have to pause and ask yourself a very important question – is that belief serving me? It’s about challenging the automatic assumptions our brains make and deciding intentionally how we want to think about things in a way that’s helpful and useful.  

For example, here’s how each of those scenarios I shared would play out if you just let your  lower, primitive brain be in charge:

Fact #1: You’re assigned a specific project at work.

Opinion: “I always get the challenging tasks.”

Resulting Feeling: Frustration and resentment.

Unhelpful Actions: You’d probably complain about being assigned challenging tasks, procrastinate or avoid the project due to the perceived unfairness, and miss the chance to showcase your skills and grow professionally.

Fact #2: Your friend cancels plans.

Opinion: “They prioritize other things over our plans; it’s not fair.”

Resulting Feeling: Hurt and anger.

Unhelpful Actions: You might assume your friend intentionally prioritized other things without considering alternative possibilities, pull away emotionally, leading to potential strain in the friendship, and create negative stories about the friend’s intentions without seeking clarification.

Fact #3: You receive constructive feedback on a presentation.

Opinion: “Others get praised, and I always get criticized.”

Resulting Feeling: Defensiveness and resentment.

Unhelpful Actions: You might ignore constructive criticism and miss an opportunity for improvement, constantly compare yourself to others, leading to decreased self-esteem, and develop a resistance to feedback, hindering personal and professional growth.

In each case, the resulting feelings and unhelpful actions stem from the opinion your primitive brain made about the facts. By recognizing and questioning these opinions, you’re much better able to shift your perspective, leading to more constructive emotions and actions. 

You have to recognize when a victim mentality creeps in, acknowledge it, and then decide if that’s the role you want to play in the story of your life. 

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Asking powerful questions

Here’s the thing about your brain: it’s like a Google search bar.  It loves answering questions.

But the most important thing to know is whether you’re asking an empowering question or a disempowering one.

For example, “Why does this always happen to me?” is disempowering.  “What can I do about this? Is empowering.

When something feels unfair, it’s easy to get agitated. But what if, instead of reacting, you responded with curiosity? 

I have found that the most powerful question you can ask yourself when things seem unfair is, “How can I see this differently?  It makes it possible for your higher brain to go to work looking for other optional ways to see the same exact fact, transforming frustration into curiosity..

I promise you, questions are the key that unlocks doors to new ways of thinking. By choosing the feeling of curiosity over frustration, you engage the higher, more rational part of your brain. 

Suddenly, the situation that seemed unfairly stacked against you becomes an opportunity to feel differently and behave differently.  

Using the examples I shared a minute ago, let’s see the effect of asking the question, “How can I see things differently?”:

Fact #1: You’re assigned a specific project at work.

Opinion: “I always get the challenging tasks.”

Question: “How can I see things differently?”

Alternative Thought: “Getting challenging projects could be an opportunity for growth and showcasing my skills.”

Resulting Feeling and Actions: Empowered, motivated, and ready to take on the challenge rather than feeling unfairly burdened. You would take initiative and be proactive in tackling tasks and challenges.  You’d be more focused and efficient at work, resulting in increased productivity.

Fact #2: Your friend cancels plans.

Opinion: “They prioritize other things over our plans; it’s not fair.”

Question: “How can I see things differently?”

Alternative Thought: “Life can be unpredictable, and they might have a valid reason for canceling. It’s not a personal attack.”

Resulting Feeling and Actions: Understanding, empathetic, and less hurt by not taking the cancellation as a reflection of their priorities.   You would recognize that life can be unpredictable, offer support and understanding if the person is going through challenging times, and understand that it’s not a personal slight but possibly a response to life’s demands.

Fact #3: You receive constructive feedback on a presentation.

Opinion: “Others get praised, and I always get criticized.”

Question: “How can I see things differently?”

Alternative Thought: “Constructive feedback is an opportunity for improvement, and everyone receives it. It’s not about comparison; it’s about continuous growth.”

Resulting Feeling and Actions: Open-minded, motivated to improve, and less inclined to see feedback as a personal criticism.  You would probably identify specific areas for improvement highlighted in the feedback, take proactive steps to enhance skills, and seek additional guidance or mentorship to further understand and address the feedback.

By questioning the initial thoughts and considering alternative ways of thinking of things, you can shift your emotional response from frustration and feeling unfairly treated to more positive and constructive feelings. 

This process is much more empowering than labeling things as unfair.  It helps in fostering resilience, personal growth, and a healthier mindset in various situations.

Instead of just seeing one side and assuming your perception is the only way to look at something, try turning it around. If a situation feels unfair, consider the other perspectives involved. 

Embracing different angles broadens your understanding and paints a fuller picture. For instance, in a disagreement, considering the other viewpoint can unveil insights you hadn’t considered, creating a more collaborative approach.

The truth is that, if you always see situations as unfair, you’re instructing your brain to find more examples of unfairness. But by choosing different perspectives, you rewrite the script. 

It’s like becoming the director of your life rather than just a passive audience member.  

The next time your knee-jerk response is to label something as unfair, think twice.  There may be something you are missing that could make a difference.

Remember, asking the question, “How can I see things differently?” will help you to engage that higher, rational brain, giving you a much better result.

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I shared how to handle when things seem unfair.  I hope you’ve gained valuable insights and practical tools.

If you are struggling with any aspect of being an accountant, you can simply go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com/calendar and book a free session with me.

I’ll explain The Smarter Accountant 6-week Program and how you can apply it to whatever you’re struggling with.

That’s what I have for you, but make sure you check back each week as I help you go from being a stressed accountant to a Smarter Accountant.

Make sure you go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com and take The Smarter Accountant Quiz. You’re going to want to know if you’ve been underutilizing your accountant brain so that you have a starting point for becoming a Smarter Accountant..

Also, I would appreciate it if you could get the word out to other accountants about this podcast.  The more accountants find out about it, the more we can begin to change the narrative in the accounting profession.

The truth is that you’re already smart, but this podcast will show you how to be smarter.

The Top 5 Things For Accountants To Unlearn

Today’s episode is going to be all about something that we can often overlook in our fast-paced world of accounting, which is effective time management.

Now, I know what you’re thinking—time management might sound like a boring topic, but trust me, it’s the secret to turning your chaotic workday into a well-oiled machine. As accountants, we juggle many tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities, and let’s face it, time is often our most precious commodity.

But here’s the thing: it’s not just about learning new time management strategies; it’s also about unlearning some habits that might be holding us back. Yes, you heard it right—unlearning. I’m not trying to add more to your plate; I’m here to help you declutter and streamline your approach to time management.

Picture this: getting more done in less time, not taking work home at night or on the weekends, and being so efficient that you get back at least 5 hours a week.  Intrigued? Well, you’re in the right place.

In today’s episode, I’m going to be exploring the top five things accountants need to unlearn when it comes to time management. These are the subtle roadblocks that might be hindering your efficiency without you even realizing it. 

So, whether you’re a seasoned CPA or you’re just starting in the accounting game, stick around—you’re going to pick up some valuable insights.

But before we dive in, let’s take a moment to understand why time management matters. It’s not just about squeezing more tasks into your day; it’s about working smarter, not harder. Effective time management can reduce stress, improve work quality, and even open up opportunities for a better work-life balance. And who wouldn’t want that?

Throughout this episode, I’ll be not only sharing what you need to unlearn but why your brain may find it challenging.  I’m also going to share some exercises that will help you to unlearn some of the things that have been getting in the way of better time management. 

I want you to get ready to challenge some preconceived notions, rethink your approach, and discover a newfound sense of control over your time. It’s time to unlearn, relearn, and revamp your time management skills. 

#1 – Unlearning the 9 to 5 Mentality

When it comes to time management, one of the first things we need to unlearn is the ingrained 9-to-5 mentality. For decades, the traditional workday has been synonymous with these fixed hours. But let’s dive into why this structure might not be the most conducive to optimal productivity.

Research in neuroscience tells us that the brain doesn’t operate like a clock. It has natural peaks and valleys of energy and focus throughout the day, known as circadian rhythms. 

The 9-to-5 schedule often forces individuals to work against their natural energy patterns, leading to a dip in productivity during certain hours. Recognizing and adapting to these natural rhythms can significantly enhance efficiency.

So, what’s the alternative? Flexibility and adaptive scheduling. Acknowledging that not everyone is wired to be most productive from 9 to 5 opens up the possibility of arranging work hours in a way that aligns better with individual energy levels. 

This might mean starting the workday later or earlier, taking longer breaks during low-energy periods, or even working in bursts of intense focus.

In a flexible work environment, individuals can capitalize on their peak productivity times, resulting in higher-quality work and reduced stress. It’s not about working more; it’s about working smarter.

Now, let’s get practical. Breaking free from the 9-to-5 mindset requires a shift in perspective and a willingness to experiment with your schedule. Here are a few tips to help you make this transition:

Identify Your Peaks and Valleys: Take a week to observe your energy levels throughout the day. Note when you feel most alert and focused and when you experience dips in concentration.  I am a morning person, so when I work from home, I start at 7 am.  Because it’s my optimal time, I get more done before noon than most accountants do in an entire 8-hour day.

Experiment with Flexible Hours: If your work environment allows, try starting your day an hour later or earlier, or taking a longer break during your natural low-energy period. Monitor how it affects your productivity and well-being.

Communicate with Your Team: If you’re part of a team, open communication is key. Discuss your experiment with flexible hours and ensure that it aligns with team goals and collaboration needs.

Implement the 90-Minute Rule: Research suggests that the brain operates in cycles of approximately 90 minutes of high focus followed by a brief period of fatigue. Structure your work in 90-minute intervals, taking short breaks to recharge.

Remember, the goal is not to abandon structure entirely but to find a rhythm that maximizes your productivity and well-being. By unlearning the rigid 9-to-5 mentality, you pave the way for a more effective and fulfilling work experience.

#2 – Unlearning The Downside To Multitasking

Multitasking has long been considered a badge of honor, especially in fast-paced professions like accounting. Many believe that juggling multiple tasks simultaneously is a sign of efficiency.

However, it’s time to debunk this myth. In the accounting world, where attention to detail is paramount, multitasking can lead to errors, oversights, and decreased overall productivity if it’s not managed properly.

For those of you who’ve taken The Smarter Accountant Time Management Personality Quiz and scored as a Multi-Tasker, there’s nothing wrong with your time management personality.  There are just some things that will make your time management much more efficient.

Common misconceptions include the idea that multitasking saves time and that it’s an essential skill for managing heavy workloads. The reality is that it often results in a lower quality of work, increased stress, and a longer completion time for each task, again, if it’s not managed properly..

Here’s what you need to know about multitasking – Neuroscience tells us that the brain doesn’t truly multitask; instead, it rapidly switches focus between tasks. This constant switching incurs a cognitive cost known as “switching fatigue.” 

The brain requires time to refocus and regain momentum each time it switches between tasks, leading to a decrease in overall efficiency.

For accountants, the cost of multitasking can be particularly high. The nature of accounting work demands sustained attention to complex details, making the constant shifting of focus detrimental to accuracy and quality.

So, how do we break free from the multitasking trap? The answer lies in adopting alternative strategies that promote sustained focus and efficiency.

Single-Tasking: This is where you dedicate specific blocks of time to individual tasks without the distraction of other projects. This allows your brain to fully engage with and complete one task before moving on to the next.

Prioritize and Sequence: Instead of trying to do everything at once, prioritize your tasks based on ease and impact. Sequence your work so that you can focus on one task at a time, completing high-impact items before moving on to the next. When I work with my time management clients, I teach them how to prioritize based on the Decision Matrix.

Batch Similar Tasks: Group similar tasks together and tackle them in a single session. This might involve grouping data entry, analysis, or report writing tasks. One of the best things you can batch is email.  It will exponentially improve your ability to focus.  Batching tasks minimizes the mental effort required to switch between different types of activities.

So here’s an exercise you can try in order to unlearn multitasking.  It’s called The Uninterrupted Focus Challenge

Try the Uninterrupted Focus Challenge for a week. Choose a task that requires your full attention and commit to working on it without any interruptions for a specific period—start with 30 minutes and gradually increase. Turn off email notifications, silence your phone, and communicate to colleagues that you’ll be unavailable during this time.

Monitor your progress and note any changes in the quality and efficiency of your work. You might be surprised by the positive impact of sustained focus on your overall productivity.

Remember, unlearning the multitasking mindset involves recognizing its cognitive costs and embracing alternative strategies that foster concentration and efficiency. By doing so, you’ll not only enhance the quality of your work but also reduce stress and improve your overall job satisfaction..

#3 – Unlearning Perfectionism

Perfectionism, while often seen as a positive trait, can truly sabotage us when it comes to effective time management. In the world of accounting, where precision is important, the pursuit of perfection can lead to things like analysis paralysis, missed deadlines, and unnecessary stress.

The brain’s role in this is fascinating. Perfectionism triggers the brain’s fear of failure, activating the lower brain’s need for safety and then leading us to not take necessary action. 

In other words, this response can lead to procrastination as the brain perceives the task as a potential threat. Understanding this connection between perfectionism and procrastination is crucial for unraveling the grip of perfectionism on your time management.

Needing something to be perfect is so threatening to your brain that it would rather you procrastinate than finish.

So how do you handle this?  Setting realistic goals is the antidote to perfectionism. 

It involves acknowledging that perfection is not only impractical but also counterproductive. Realistic goals are achievable, allowing you to make steady progress without giving in to the paralyzing effects of perfectionism.

When you set realistic goals, you also activate the brain’s reward system. Achieving these goals releases dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter, reinforcing positive behaviors. 

This shift in focus from the fear of failure to the satisfaction of accomplishment is key to breaking free from the perfectionism trap.

Now, let’s explore some practical techniques to overcome perfectionism and improve your time management:

Break Tasks into Smaller Steps: Instead of viewing a task as an overwhelming whole, break it into smaller, more manageable steps. This not only makes the task less intimidating but also allows you to celebrate small victories along the way.

Set Time Limits: Assign specific time limits to tasks. This not only prevents you from getting lost in the pursuit of perfection but also encourages focused and efficient work. Use a timer to create a sense of a boundary around your time.

Embrace the 80/20 Rule: Also known as the Pareto Principle, this rule suggests that 80% of results come from 20% of efforts. Identify the critical tasks that contribute the most value and focus your energy on them, letting go of the need for perfection in less crucial areas.

Remember, overcoming perfectionism is a key ingredient in mastering time management. By understanding the brain’s response to perfectionist tendencies, setting realistic goals, and implementing practical techniques, you can free yourself from the paralysis of perfection and enhance your productivity and job satisfaction.

#4 – Unlearning Technology Time Wasters

While technology offers incredible tools to enhance productivity, it’s easy to get caught up in time-wasting technologies that hinder rather than help. 

We often get caught up in checking emails too much, scrolling through social media, and being tempted by lots of apps that claim to make us super productive but don’t always deliver on their promises.

What’s interesting is that understanding the brain’s role here is crucial. These technologies often trigger the brain’s reward system, releasing dopamine with every notification or social media update. 

This dopamine hit then creates a cycle of distraction, pulling you away from important tasks and eroding your precious time.

But while technology can cause us problems there are many time-saving tools and apps specifically designed to streamline accounting processes and boost efficiency. From accounting software that automates data entry to project management apps that keep tasks organized, the right technologies can be game-changers.

Again, this is where the brain’s role is fascinating. When you use technology to automate repetitive tasks, you free up mental bandwidth for more complex and creative aspects of your work. 

This not only enhances efficiency but also helps us to get more done in less time.

To make the most of technology without falling into the time-wasting trap, consider these tips:

Identify Pain Points: Pinpoint areas in your workflow that could benefit from automation or improvement. Whether it’s data entry, communication, or project management, technology should address specific pain points to be truly effective.

Test Before You Invest: Before committing to a new tool or app, take advantage of free trials or demos. Ensure that the technology aligns with your needs and integrates seamlessly into your workflow.

Prioritize Integration: Look for technologies that can seamlessly integrate with your existing systems. This prevents the need for constant context-switching, optimizing your efficiency.

Set Boundaries: Establish boundaries for technology use. Schedule specific times for checking emails and notifications to prevent constant interruptions. This helps in reclaiming focus and minimizing the negative impact on productivity.

Here’s an exercise to help you unlearn technology time wasters: The Tech Detox Challenge.

For one day, challenge yourself to a tech detox. Turn off non-essential notifications, resist the urge to check social media or emails incessantly, and focus solely on tasks without the interference of technology. 

Use this day to observe how technology habits affect your concentration and productivity.

Remember, embracing technology wisely involves recognizing the potential pitfalls of time-wasting technologies, understanding the brain’s response to these distractions, and strategically integrating tools that genuinely enhance productivity. By selecting the right technologies and setting boundaries, you can leverage the power of innovation to your advantage.

#5 – Unlearning The Procrastination Cycle

Procrastination, the notorious productivity thief, often stems from many psychological factors. Understanding these roots is the first step towards breaking free from its grip. 

In the brain, the higher brain, the prefrontal cortex, responsible for decision-making and goal-setting, often battles with the lower, primitive brain.  When tasks trigger anxiety or fear of failure, the lower brain can overpower the higher brain, leading to procrastination.

Digging deeper, perfectionism, fear of inadequacy, and even a simple lack of interest can contribute to procrastination. Recognizing these psychological causes is crucial for developing effective strategies to overcome this common challenge.

So what can you do about procrastination?  Let’s explore some practical strategies to conquer procrastination:

Break Tasks Into Smaller Steps: The brain often perceives large tasks as overwhelming, triggering procrastination. Break tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Completing these bite-sized portions not only reduces anxiety but also provides a sense of accomplishment.

Set Clear Goals: Clearly defined goals provide a roadmap for your work. The brain responds well to specific, achievable objectives. Write down what you want to accomplish, breaking it down into tangible steps.

Visualize the End Result: Create a mental image of the satisfaction and relief you’ll feel upon completing a task. This positive visualization can counteract the emotional resistance that leads to procrastination.

Building a proactive mindset is the key to efficient time management and breaking the cycle of procrastination. Here’s how you can cultivate this mindset:

Prioritize Tasks: Identify and prioritize tasks based on their ease and impact. Tackling high-impact tasks first can create momentum and reduce the likelihood of procrastination.

Set Realistic Deadlines: Establish realistic deadlines for yourself. I tell my clients all the time that they need to be kind to the future version of themselves that has to get this thing done.  This helps create a sense of importance and prevents tasks from lingering on the to-do list indefinitely.

Celebrate Progress: Acknowledge and celebrate small victories along the way. Recognizing your achievements, no matter how small, reinforces positive behavior and motivates continued effort.

Here’s an exercise you can implement: The 5-Minute Rule

Here’s how it works: commit to working on a task for just five minutes. Often, getting started is the most challenging part. Once you overcome the initial resistance, you might find yourself more engaged and willing to continue.

As I tell my time management coaching clients, the most difficult step is going from 0 to 1, not going from 0 to completion.  By just working on a task for 5 minutes, you create the momentum needed for the next 5 minutes.

Remember,  breaking the procrastination cycle involves understanding the psychological factors that contribute to procrastination, implementing practical strategies to overcome it, and cultivating a proactive mindset for efficient time management. By addressing the root causes and adopting proactive habits, you can transform procrastination into productivity and propel yourself towards success.

As I wind up this episode, let’s reflect on the overarching theme—the profound impact of our mindset and habits on how we manage our time.

Our brain is our intricate time management guide. Understanding its tendencies, from the dopamine-driven distractions to the anxiety-triggered procrastination, empowers us to reshape our habits effectively. 

Time management isn’t just about squeezing more into our schedules; it’s about optimizing the way we work to achieve better outcomes with less stress. It’s a dynamic process of unlearning outdated norms, adopting innovative strategies, and continuously refining our approach. 

The tips and exercises I provided are not one-size-fits-all solutions.  They are invitations to experiment, adapt, and discover what works best for you.

As you begin to implement these insights, remember that change takes time. Be patient with yourself, celebrate progress, and remain open to refining your strategies. The goal is not perfection but continuous improvement.

If better time management is something you’re interested in, I suggest taking The Smarter Accountant Time Management Personality Quiz. You’ll gain some valuable insights into your particular time management personality and how to leverage that to get more done in less time.

Simply go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com/personality-quiz and as a bonus, you’ll also receive “The Ultimate Time-Saving Guide for Accountants.” This guide is a must-have for any accountant who wants to improve their time management.

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I shared the top 5 things for accountants to unlearn.  I hope you’ve gained valuable insights and practical tips.

If you are struggling with any aspect of being an accountant, you can simply go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com/calendar and book a free session with me.

I’ll explain The Smarter Accountant 6-week Program and how you can apply it to whatever you’re struggling with.

Make sure you check back each week as I help you go from being a stressed accountant to a Smarter Accountant.

Make sure you go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com and take The Smarter Accountant Quiz. You’re going to want to know if you’ve been underutilizing your accountant brain so that you have a starting point for becoming a Smarter Accountant..

Also, I would appreciate it if you could get the word out to other accountants about this podcast.  The more accountants find out about it, the more we can begin to change the narrative in the accounting profession.

The truth is that you’re already smart, but this podcast will show you how to be smarter.

Your Time Management Personality and Why It Matters

Today’s episode is going to approach time management in a different way than you’ve probably ever discussed it.  I’m going to be talking about your time management personality and why it matters. 

Now, I know what you might be thinking, “Time management personality? Seriously?” But trust me, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill productivity lecture. I’m going to explore how your unique time management personality can make or break your success.

Let’s start by considering a few questions:

Do you find yourself hitting the snooze button every morning, or are you up with the birds, ready to conquer the day? Which one are you?

Do you consider yourself a multitasking expert, or do you prefer to take things one step at a time? What’s your go-to strategy for managing your workload?

Are you the kind of accountant who always lends a helping hand and thrives on collaboration? Or do you prefer to tackle tasks solo?

Here’s the thing – we’re not all cut from the same cloth, and that’s a good thing! Just like we have different approaches to tackling tax returns or working with clients, we also have distinct time management personalities that influence how we navigate our daily grind.

In this episode, I’m breaking it down into four categories: the Early Bird, the Multi-Tasker, the Deliberator, and the Helper. You’re going to discover where you fit in, what your strengths are, and how to use your personality to get more done in less time.

So, whether you’re the type who thrives in the early morning hours or the multitasker who’s got ten windows open on their computer right now, stick with me because you’re going to walk away with actionable insights to level up your time management game. 

It’s time to take control of your time by understanding your time management personality better., 

Stay to the end because I’ll be sharing a link to take The Smarter Accountant Time Management Personality Quiz.  It will only take you a few minutes and not only will it be super helpful in determining where your personality lies, but you also might be surprised at your quiz results. 

The Early Bird

Let’s start with the first time management personality category – the Early Bird. Whether you’re an early riser or you’d rather hit the snooze button, you’ll find valuable insights here

So, what exactly is an Early Bird? Early Birds are the early risers, the ones who seize the day at the crack of dawn and have everything organized before most people even hit “snooze” for the first time.

I am a classic Early Bird time management personality.  I get up around 4:30 am and actually enjoy it.

If you’re an Early Bird like me, you probably know the perks of starting your day early. You’ve got the morning all to yourself when the world is quiet, and it’s a perfect time to set the stage for a productive day. You’re already ahead of the game!

But what makes Early Birds tick, and how do they use their unique time management style to their advantage? Let’s explore both the pros and cons of being an Early Bird with some helpful tips.

Advantages of Being an Early Bird:

Advantage 1: Increased Productivity in the Morning

As Early Birds, we tend to be at our peak productivity in the morning. Our brains are fresh, and we use this time to tackle important tasks and decision-making. For example, when I work from home, I start my work day at 7 am and get more done by noon than most accountants do in an entire day.  .

Advantage 2: Ability to Plan and Prioritize

As Early Birds, we have the luxury of time in the morning to plan and prioritize. We can set clear goals and agendas, ensuring we make the most out of our working hours. As an Early Bird accountant, you might use the early hours to meticulously plan your client meetings, organize financial documents, and strategize your approach for the day.

Challenges of Being an Early Bird:

Challenge 1: Burnout Risk

While Early Birds have a strong start, we might experience burnout if we don’t manage our energy levels throughout the day. Pushing too hard early on can lead to exhaustion by mid-afternoon. It’s important to find a balance.

Challenge 2: Social Obligations

As an Early Bird, we can find it challenging to accommodate late-night social events or adapt to flexible work hours, especially if our work environment or social circle operates on a different schedule.  I’m in bed by 8:30 pm most nights so staying up late is very challenging.

Tips for Early Birds and Those Adapting Early-Bird Habits:

Tip 1: The Power of Morning Routines

Creating a consistent morning routine can help anyone become more productive, even if you’re not naturally an Early Bird. Start with what lights your brain up first.  I was able to write and publish my book in one year because of the power of my morning routine.  This sets a positive tone for your workday.

Tip 2: Maintaining Energy Levels

We need to know how to maintain our energy levels throughout the day. We have to avoid energy crashes by staying hydrated and taking short breaks to recharge. It’s all about pacing ourselves. For example, as someone trying to embrace early-bird habits, you could schedule short, rejuvenating breaks into your day to stay focused and energized.

Whether you’re an Early Bird or aspiring to be one, the key takeaway is that understanding your time management personality is the first step to unlocking your full potential.

The Multi-Tasker

Now let’s dive into the world of the Multi-Tasker. So, whether you’re someone who’s always juggling multiple tasks or looking to embrace a more adaptable approach, stay tuned because you’re going to gain valuable insights no matter what.  

What exactly is a Multi-Tasker? Well, they’re the accountants who thrive when their to-do list is a mile long and every day is a whirlwind of tasks. They are adaptable, flexible, and masters of managing the chaos.

So, what are the pros and cons of being a Multi-Tasker, and how can you make the most of this time management personality? 

Advantages of Being a Multi-Tasker:

Advantage 1: Handling Various Responsibilities Simultaneously

Multi-Taskers excel at handling multiple responsibilities at once. Picture this: you’re a Multi-Tasker accountant, and you’re coordinating a client meeting, analyzing financial data, and managing your team’s tasks, all at the same time. It’s like a symphony of productivity.

Advantage 2: Efficient Use of Time

Multi-Taskers can be experts at making the most of their time. They can shift between tasks quickly and efficiently, making them well-suited for jobs that require adaptability and quick decision-making.

Challenges of Being a Multi-Tasker:

Challenge 1: Risk of Overwhelm

Multi-Taskers can oftentimes find themselves overwhelmed with the sheer number of tasks on their plate. Trying to do it all can lead to stress and reduced attention to detail.  Plus, there’s the issue with a switching cost; the time it takes to fully focus and engage when you’re managing multiple tasks.

Challenge 2: Reduced Focus

While Multi-Taskers are great at doing many things, they may struggle to focus deeply on a single task. This can lead to errors or incomplete work if not managed properly.

Tips for Multi-Taskers and Those Adapting Multi-Tasking Habits:

Tip 1: Identify When to Multitask

As a Multi-Tasker, it’s crucial to recognize when multitasking is beneficial and when it’s not. Save multitasking for routine or low-priority tasks, and make time for deep focus on high-priority work.

Tip 2: Using Tools and Apps for Staying Organized

Use tools like task management apps or project management software to help you stay organized. These tools can help you keep track of your many tasks and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

Whether you’re a natural Multi-Tasker or working to develop some multitasking skills, remember that understanding and harnessing your time management personality can help you excel in your accounting career.

The Deliberator

Now let’s dive into the world of the Deliberator, the meticulous planners and analytical thinkers.  Whether you’re naturally a Deliberator or looking to embrace more thoughtful and methodical approaches, you’re in the right place.

What exactly is a Deliberator? These are the accountants who take their time, weigh every option, and leave no stone unturned when making decisions. They’re the analytical powerhouses who ensure precision in every financial endeavor.

So, what are the pros and cons of being a Deliberator, and how can you make the most of this time management personality? 

Advantages of Being a Deliberator:

Advantage 1: Making Well-Informed Decisions

Deliberators are masters at making well-informed decisions. As a Deliberator accountant, imagine this scenario: a client seeks your advice on a complex financial investment. Your careful analysis and thorough research lead to a decision that safeguards their assets and ensures a sound financial future.

Advantage 2: Reducing Errors and Stress

Deliberators reduce errors and stress by ensuring that every detail is accounted for. They prevent costly mistakes by approaching tasks systematically and methodically.

Challenges of Being a Deliberator:

Challenge 1: Time-Consuming

Deliberators can often spend too much time pondering decisions, leading to a slower workflow and potential missed opportunities.

Challenge 2: Analysis Paralysis

There’s a fine line between careful consideration and analysis paralysis. Deliberators may struggle to take action, constantly seeking more data or reassurance before making decisions.

Tips for Deliberators and Those Embracing Deliberation Habits:

Tip 1: Time Blocking and Prioritization

Deliberators can definitely benefit from a better time blocking process and more effective prioritization techniques. Schedule specific blocks of time for decision-making and use prioritization methods to ensure you focus on the most critical tasks.

Tip 2: Set Decision-Making Deadlines

To combat analysis paralysis, set specific deadlines for making decisions. Once you’ve gathered the necessary information, commit to a timeline for taking action.

Whether you’re a born Deliberator or trying to incorporate more deliberation into your approach, remember that understanding and embracing your time management personality can enhance your effectiveness

The Helper

Now let’s talk about the final time management personality, The Helper, or the team player and collaborator of the financial world. Whether you’re a natural Helper or looking to embrace more people-oriented strategies, let’s discuss this personality.  

So, what exactly is a Helper? These are the accountants who thrive on supporting others, working collaboratively, and building strong relationships. They’re often the glue that holds teams and projects together.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of being a Helper, and discover how to maximize this unique time management personality:

Advantages of Being a Helper:

Advantage 1: Building Strong Relationships and Networks

Helpers excel at building strong professional relationships and expanding their networks. For example, as a Helper accountant, you’ve developed an extensive network of contacts, making it easier to collaborate on projects and share resources.

Advantage 2: Achieving Goals Through Teamwork

Helpers know the power of teamwork. They leverage their support network to achieve collective goals. Imagine you’re a Helper in a busy accounting firm, and you’ve organized a team project that streamlined the financial reporting process, saving both time and resources.

Challenges of Being a Helper:

Challenge 1: Balancing Personal and Professional Commitments

Helpers can sometimes struggle to balance their personal commitments with their professional responsibilities. It’s essential to establish boundaries and prioritize self-care.

Challenge 2: Overcommitting

In their eagerness to help, Helpers may overcommit and find themselves stretched too thin. They need strategies to manage their workload effectively.

Tips for Helpers and Those Embracing Helper Habits:

Tip 1: Setting Boundaries

Helpers need to establish clear boundaries between personal and professional life. They need to protect their personal time to avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Tip 2: Effective Communication and Delegation

Helpers need more effective communication and delegation skills. They can optimize their time by effectively involving team members and delegating tasks when necessary.

Whether you’re a natural Helper or looking to incorporate more Helper habits, remember that understanding and leveraging your time management personality can significantly enhance your effectiveness.

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Making the most of your time management personality

Now that we’ve uncovered the unique characteristics, advantages, and challenges of the Early Bird, Multi-Tasker, Deliberator, and Helper, it’s time to tie it all together and explore how to becoming a Smarter Accountant 

To be a Smarter Accountant is to not just excel at crunching numbers but also to manage your time effectively, enabling you to accomplish more while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. 

When I work with my coaching clients in The Smarter Accountant Time Management program, here’s how I approach each personality: .

The Early Bird:

Your advantage lies in your productive mornings. To become a Smarter Accountant, you can:

Set clear daily priorities: I teach them how to prioritize their most critical tasks during their peak hours in the morning, ensuring they tackle the day’s essentials right off the bat.

Avoid energy drains: I guide them to maintain energy levels throughout the day with short breaks and staying hydrated, so they can sustain their productivity.

The Multi-Tasker:

Multi-Taskers, your adaptability is your strength. To become a Smarter Accountant, you can:

Master task-switching: I teach my Multi-Taskers to learn when and how to switch between tasks efficiently without losing focus.

Effective organization: I train them in the art of staying organized amid the chaos, whether through apps, task management tools, or project management strategies.

The Deliberator:

Deliberators, your precision is your forte. To become a Smarter Accountant, you can:

Set decision-making deadlines: When I work with Deliberators, I encourage them to set specific timelines for making decisions, preventing analysis paralysis while maintaining their meticulous approach.

Time blocking: I guide them to utilize my effective time blocking techniques to ensure they allocate time for decision-making and allow time for deep work when needed.

The Helper:

Helpers, your collaborative nature is your superpower. To become a Smarter Accountant, you can:

Balancing commitments: I teach Helpers to find the right balance between personal and professional life, enabling them to be more focused and effective in both areas.

Effective communication and delegation: I train them in the art of efficient communication and delegation to optimize their time while still providing valuable support.

Remember, becoming a Smarter Accountant is not about changing your core personality; it’s about recognizing your strengths, addressing your challenges, and finding strategies that work best for you. 

Tailoring your time management approach based on your personality is the key to achieving success both professionally and personally.

If you are interested in taking a short quiz to find out your specific time management personality, you can just head on over to https://thesmarteraccountant.com/personality-quiz/

It’s important to consider your time management personality and which techniques work best for you. When you discover which method works best for you, you will see a spike in your productivity, improvement in your efficiency, a sense of control over your time, the ability to get more done in less time, and an increase in the number of hours you’re able to get back

The truth is that understanding your time management personality will absolutely help you better manage your time.

Thank you for joining me.  I hope you’ve gained valuable insights into your own time management personality. Remember that in the realm of accounting, being a Smarter Accountant means understanding who you are and making the most of it.

If you are struggling with any aspect of being an accountant, you can simply go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com/calendar and book a free session with me.

I’ll explain The Smarter Accountant 6-week Programs and how you can apply them to whatever you’re struggling with.

That’s what I have for you, but make sure you check back each week as I help you go from being a stressed accountant to a Smarter Accountant.

Make sure you go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com and take The Smarter Accountant Quiz. You’re going to want to know if you’ve been underutilizing your accountant brain so that you have a starting point for becoming a Smarter Accountant..

Also, I would appreciate it if you could get the word out to other accountants about this podcast.  The more accountants find out about it, the more we can begin to change the narrative in the accounting profession.

The truth is that you’re already smart, but this podcast will show you how to be smarter.

Creating a Better Work Environment

Let’s talk all about how to shape a better work environment.  First, I want you to consider a few questions:

How do you currently feel about your work environment as an accountant, whether you’re a leader or an employee?

Have you noticed any specific challenges or issues in your workplace that affect your job satisfaction or productivity?

Do you believe that creating a better work environment is solely the responsibility of the organization, or do you recognize your own role in shaping it?

In the world of accounting, where precision, attention to detail, and complex calculations are the order of the day, creating a better work environment is not just a nice-to-have; it’s an essential factor that directly influences our quality of work and well-being. 

While the demands of this profession can be an issue, studies show that a positive work atmosphere can significantly impact not only our productivity but also our job satisfaction.

Unfortunately, accounting firms and finance departments have long grappled with challenges such as employee conflicts, increased complaints, and decreased job satisfaction. Managers often find themselves frustrated by declining productivity and unprofessional conduct. 

However, the key to understanding how to create a better work environment lies not only in recognizing these issues but, more importantly, in understanding who holds the power to create a better work environment.

Countless studies have revealed that regardless of generous benefits, flexible work arrangements, or state-of-the-art perks, an accountant’s job satisfaction and work experience are primarily influenced by their own thoughts and feelings. 

That’s why the first step in crafting a more conducive work environment is the realization that you have control over how you show up and experience your workplace.  Whether you are a boss or an employee, you do have control over creating a better work environment..

The critical lesson, whether you’re a boss or a colleague, is learning to manage your own mind and emotions and approaching your role from a clean, clear mindset. When you develop this skill, you present the best version of yourself, foster an environment that allows others to do the same, and remain open to personal growth.

The power to create a better work environment hinges on your ability to decide how you want to think, feel, and behave. It’s less about circumstances that aren’t within your control and more about how you choose to interpret those circumstances .

This episode is going to be all about the art of creating a better work environment, whether you’re a boss or an employee. I’m going to be sharing the key ingredients to crafting a work atmosphere that fosters success and well-being for all involved.

Creating a better work environment: When you are a Boss/Leader

Let’s start with the scenario where you’re the one in charge. If you’re listening to this, you’re likely not a horrible boss, but you might be looking for ways to create a better work environment.

You see, it’s not uncommon for leaders to find themselves in situations where employees aren’t getting along, there’s a lot of complaining, some job dissatisfaction, or maybe there’s some office gossip going on. Perhaps you’re frustrated with declining productivity or a lack of professionalism in the workplace.

Creating a better work environment as a leader begins with understanding that it’s not just about what you can do for your team; it’s about how you show up and experience the environment yourself. The truth is that your employees are responsible for how they choose to think and feel when they’re at work..

For example, let’s say you’ve got a team member who gets impatient when you don’t review their work quickly. You want them to be happy, so you rush to review their work before anyone else’s. 

But here’s the problem – you end up feeling resentful because you’ve given up your weekend to appease this employee, probably thinking afterwards that they should be more appreciative of your effort.

Here’s the thing – when you manage others, the most important thing you can do is manage your own mind and come from a “clean space.” It’s about learning how to handle your thoughts and emotions. 

When you master this, you become the best version of yourself, which, in turn, creates an environment that allows others to be their best selves too.

The truth is, you cannot control how your employees think and feel about their jobs. No amount of vacation days, fancy espresso machines, or flexible work arrangements can do that. 

The real power you have in creating a better work environment is in learning to manage your own mind. It’s about deciding how you want to think, feel, and behave in a way that aligns with the results you want in your professional life.

So here are some questions to think about:

Who are you being when you’re at work?

Are you happy with how you show up at work?

Are you seeking validation from your employees?

Do your feelings depend on others?

What does being the “best version” of you look like?

Creating a better work environment happens for you (remember, that’s all you can control) when you have open and honest communication and limit your own mind drama. Managing people is best done when you are making sure you’re first managing your mind before you try to manage others.

So, as a leader, remember that you can’t control what your employees think or feel about you or their job, but you can control what you think and feel about them. In other words, your interactions with your team are fueled by your thoughts and emotions. 

It’s not about being nice to manipulate their feelings; it’s about being nice because it feels good to you and, in turn, creates a better work environment for you.

Let me give you an example – I coached a senior manager at a mid-sized accounting firm. For years, she had struggled with an increasingly toxic work environment. 

Her team had been having issues with infighting and a lack of collaboration, and she often found herself mediating conflicts between team members. Productivity was suffering, and the general atmosphere in the office was far from ideal.

She was determined to turn things around so she decided to take a different approach. Instead of merely reacting to conflicts and complaints, she took a proactive stance. 

She initiated simple team-building activities, encouraged open communication, and provided a platform for employees to share their thoughts and concerns. Through one-on-one meetings with her team members, she discovered that several issues had been festering under the surface, including unresolved personal conflicts and unacknowledged achievements.

She was better able to address these issues with empathy and clear communication when she first learned how to manage her own mind. Because she was focused on what she could control, which was herself, she came up with the idea for a mentorship program, pairing seasoned accountants with junior colleagues to foster knowledge sharing and mutual support. 

Over time, the work environment began to shift. Conflicts reduced, collaboration increased, and the team started to appreciate her commitment to their well-being and success.

The key to it all was that by first managing her mind, she felt less stressed.  And when she felt less stressed, she showed up differently in her role as a leader.  

In other words, by creating a better work environment for herself, she became an example to her team and made it possible for them to create a better work environment for themselves, whether they chose to or not..

Key Takeaway: As a boss or leader, the key to creating a better work environment is understanding that the only thing you can control is your own thoughts, emotions, and behavior; you cannot control how your employees think and feel at or about work. 

Managing your mind and emotions and approaching your role with compassion and clarity is crucial. Remember that you have the power to create a positive work atmosphere by managing your own mindset and leading by example. 

Creating a better work environment: When you are an employee

Let’s shift our perspective and look at what happens when you’re not the one calling the shots but instead are a part of the team – you’re the employee. You probably spend a significant portion of your waking hours at work, so it’s worth figuring out how to make that environment the best it can be.

As we all know, in the world of accounting, the demands can be considerable, and the hours can be long. You probably find yourself working with colleagues more than you see your own family, especially during busier times of the year like tax season. 

Sometimes, the office might even feel like your second home. So, how can you, as an employee, make your work environment more inspiring, nurturing, and enjoyable? 

It turns out, you have more power than you might think.

The truth is that when you work for someone else, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that you have limited control over your work environment. You might think you’re at the mercy of the company, your boss, or your coworkers to set the tone of the office. 

The problem is that this belief can lead to frustration and stress, and you might even start exploring job opportunities elsewhere, thinking the “toxic” work environment is beyond your control.

But here’s the thing – the power to create a better work environment is not out of your hands. It’s in your head, in the way you manage your thoughts and feelings about your job, and in the way you choose to show up at work and even when you’re not there.

The first step to creating a better work environment is getting clear about who you want to be, regardless of anyone or anything else. 

In other words, imagine your “dream job” – you’re doing the work you want, you have the perfect boss, and you’re surrounded by fantastic colleagues. Now, think about how that dream job would make you feel, how you’d approach your work differently, and whether you’d be proud of the way you show up each day.

For example, picture yourself in that dream job where you’re recognized for your expertise, and your boss values your contributions. How would you feel? 

You’d probably feel confident, motivated, and engaged. In that ideal scenario, you’d approach your work with enthusiasm, always looking for ways to excel and grow. You’d take pride in your work, knowing that you’re making a meaningful impact.

The good news is that you don’t have to wait for your dream job to experience those feelings, do better work, and feel proud of your daily contributions. The only difference between your current job and that dream job are your thoughts.

As I’ve shared before on this podcast, your job is just a neutral circumstance; it’s your thoughts about your job or your work environment that create your feelings.

The second step in creating a better work environment is being willing to let go of all the excuses you’ve been holding onto. Whether it’s your boss not recognizing your hard work or your coworkers not being the best of friends, your work environment’s experience isn’t determined by them; it’s determined by you.

You may have heard the saying, “You can’t control other people’s actions, but you can control your reactions.” This holds true in the workplace. 

Your boss’s lack of recognition, your coworker’s indifference, or the overall office atmosphere doesn’t have to define your experience.

Now that you’re aware of what’s been shaping your work environment, the final step is deciding what you want your experience to be. This is where you take your power back:

If you want to feel like a valuable employee, imagine what that valuable employee would be thinking and doing. They might consistently produce high-quality work, actively participate in team discussions, and seek opportunities to contribute.

Or let’s say you want to feel respected by your boss, then imagine what a respected employee would be thinking and how they’d perform their job. They might proactively communicate, take initiative, and consistently meet or exceed expectations.

If you want to feel a connection with your coworkers, imagine what a connected employee would be thinking and how they’d interact with their colleagues. They might engage in open and supportive communication, seek common ground, and cultivate positive working relationships.

Let me give you an example of a client.  He was an accountant working in a corporate finance department. 

For a while, he had been feeling undervalued and overlooked at work. His contributions often went unnoticed, and he felt like just another number at the company.  His coworkers, although pleasant, didn’t seem particularly interested in building personal connections.

Rather than waiting for recognition to come his way, he decided to take matters into his own hands. With my help, he recognized that his mindset was key to changing his work environment. 

He started by actively participating in team meetings, offering fresh ideas, and volunteering to take on challenging projects. He took the initiative to communicate with his supervisor more frequently, not to complain but to share his progress, seek feedback, and discuss opportunities for growth.

In his interactions with coworkers, he shifted from a passive observer to an engaged team member. He began showing genuine interest in their work and personal lives. 

He initiated conversations, asking about their weekend plans and hobbies, and actively listened when they shared their thoughts and concerns. His proactive approach led to more open and supportive communication with his colleagues.

Over time, his efforts paid off. His supervisor noticed his improved performance and dedication, and he was given more responsibilities and recognition. 

By actively engaging with his colleagues, he created a warmer and more collaborative work environment where teamwork and mutual support thrived.

The truth is that creating a better work environment is within your control when you stop blaming your current situation on others. Remember, people don’t make you feel negative emotions; it’s your thoughts about people that do. 

Remember, circumstances don’t have to change for you to feel better; you feel better when you change your beliefs about your circumstances.

By choosing thoughts that serve you, like “This company is lucky to have me” or “I respect the role I play on this team,” those thoughts can create a better work environment for you, no matter where you are or who you work with. Imagine how that would transform your work environment!

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Creating the best work environment you can

So whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting your career as an accountant, you know that the demands of this profession can sometimes feel like a non-stop rollercoaster. But there’s a secret to success that goes beyond just crunching the numbers – it’s about creating the best work environment you can, and it’s backed by brain science.

The thing is that your brain is constantly taking in information and making decisions. One part of your brain, the lower, primitive brain, the part I refer to as the Toddler, is like your built-in alarm system. 

It’s always on the lookout for threats and can make you feel stressed or anxious when it senses danger, even if that “danger” is just a tight deadline or a challenging client.

But here’s the good news: you also have a higher brain, the prefrontal cortex, the part I refer to as the Supervising Parent, and it’s responsible for thinking, reasoning, and decision-making. This part of your brain can help you stay calm, focused, and positive, even when the primitive brain is sounding the alarm.

So here are some examples of using brain science for a better work environment:

Handling Tight Deadlines: Imagine you’re faced with a tight deadline, and your Toddler brain is in full alert mode, causing stress. Here’s where brain science comes in. Instead of panicking, you can engage your higher brain, the Supervising Parent, by breaking down the task into smaller, manageable steps. This not only helps you stay organized but also reduces stress and enhances your work environment.  The less stress you feel, the easier it is to feel better about your job.

Dealing with Difficult Colleagues: We all have those colleagues who can be challenging to work with. Brain science tells us that you can choose how you react. Instead of letting their behavior trigger stress, learn how to engage your higher brain to respond with patience and understanding. By doing so, you can help create a more harmonious work environment.

Seeking Feedback: Lastly, when you actively seek feedback, you’re using your higher brain to improve your skills. Even if the feedback is critical, approach it with a growth mindset. This means seeing it as an opportunity for development rather than a personal attack. It not only makes you a Smarter Accountant but also fosters a work environment where growth and improvement are valued.

Now that you have some examples of using brain science for a better work environment, let me give you some additional practical tips for creating a positive work environment:

Stay Organized: Use your higher, Supervising Parent part of your brain to plan and organize your work. Break tasks into manageable chunks, set priorities, create a to-do list, and then calendar everything on that to-do list. Side note: do not work off a to-do list because it’s incredibly overwhelming to your brain.  By staying organized, this not only reduces stress but also enhances your productivity and work experience.

Communication is Key: Engage in open and honest communication with your colleagues and supervisors. By discussing challenges and seeking solutions, you create a work environment where issues can be addressed constructively.  Begin to pay attention to your complaining and gossip, and make conscious efforts to curb them both.

Embrace Lifelong Learning: Keep your brain engaged by embracing lifelong learning. Listen to podcasts like this, attend workshops and webinars, or seek out coaches and mentors. Take programs like I offer with The Smarter Accountant Programs, teaching you how to manage your mind so that you can manage everything else.  My program will not only make you a Smarter Accountant, but it also fosters a work environment that values growth and development.

In a nutshell, becoming a Smarter Accountant means not only mastering the numbers but also understanding the brain science behind creating a better work environment. By engaging your higher brain more often, you can tackle challenges, handle stress, and foster a work environment where productivity and well-being go hand in hand. 

Now go use that smart bran of yours to make a better work environment for yourself.  

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me on this exploration of how to create a better work environment. I hope you’ve gained valuable insights and practical tools you can apply this week.

If you are struggling with any aspect of being an accountant, you can simply go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com/calendar and book a free session with me.

I’ll explain The Smarter Accountant 6-week Program and how you can apply it to whatever you’re struggling with.

That’s what I have for you, but make sure you check back each week as I help you go from being a stressed accountant to a Smarter Accountant.

Make sure you go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com and take The Smarter Accountant Quiz. You’re going to want to know if you’ve been underutilizing your accountant brain so that you have a starting point for becoming a Smarter Accountant..

Also, I would appreciate it if you could get the word out to other accountants about this podcast.  The more accountants find out about it, the more we can begin to change the narrative in the accounting profession.

The truth is that you’re already smart, but this podcast will show you how to be smarter.

How To Create More Time

Let’s talk all about how to create more hours in the day.  Teaching better time management to accountants is one of my superpowers.  It’s also why I’ve been able to have stress-free tax seasons.

Time management is a topic I’ll probably be discussing often on this podcast, but for now, I want to start by asking you to consider a few questions:

Have you ever found yourself wishing for more hours in a day? What would you like to do with that extra time?

What are your top time-related challenges as an accountant?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with your workload? How do you usually cope with it?

What’s your relationship with time like? Is it your friend, a foe, or something in between?

As accountants, I think we all have a love/hate relationship with time.  Most of us have said things like, “I don’t have enough time,” “There simply aren’t enough hours in the day,” or perhaps, “I wish I had more time for the family.” Sound familiar?

You’ve probably experienced the relentless ticking of the clock, especially during frenzied tax seasons, quarterly reports, or year-end audits. 

The funny thing about time is that, on the one hand, it can be your worst enemy, adding stress, anxiety, and overwhelm. But on the other hand, it can also be your best friend, offering you moments of rest and satisfaction. 

In today’s episode I want to help you turn time into your most loyal ally.

The truth is that your struggle with time isn’t unique to you; it’s a universal challenge within the accounting profession. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting your accounting journey, the battle against the clock is real. 

I’m going to be diving into the complexities of your relationship with time and uncover the two main culprits behind time wastage: overwhelm and perfectionism. By understanding these issues, you can regain control and create more time for yourself.

My purpose with this episode is to provide you with practical insights and real-world strategies to revolutionize your approach to time management. Whether you’re working in a firm, managing your own practice, or starting your career, the principles I’ll discuss can be tailored to suit your unique circumstances.

I want to help you conquer time, boost your productivity, and attain a healthier balance between your professional and personal life.

Your Relationship with Time

The first thing I want to discuss is your unique relationship with time. Just like you have relationships with the people, places, and things in your life, you also have a relationship with time.

To simplify this, think of time like that mysterious friend you can’t quite figure out. Sometimes, it seems like it’s got your back, and other times, it’s just playing tricks on you. Your relationship with time can be quite complex.

Now, here’s where brain science comes into play. Your brain is like a sophisticated control center, managing everything you do, and it has a few quirky ways of handling time. It’s not just a clock on the wall; it’s deeply intertwined with your thoughts and feelings.

As I’ve shared before on this podcast, your lower, primitive brain is motivated by three things, referred to as the Motivational Triad.  It’s motivated to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and, most interestingly for our topic, it tries to use as little energy as possible.

Imagine this: Your work and personal life pile up with tasks and responsibilities. The more you load onto your mental plate, the more your brain can start to freak out. 

Next thing you know, you’ve got thoughts like, “There’s no way I can accomplish all this,” “I don’t have enough time,” and “This is too much!”

These thoughts create a feeling we all know well: overwhelm. It’s like your brain’s warning sign that it’s about to go into overdrive. But here’s where it gets tricky. 

Your brain, in its quest for conserving energy, sees overwhelm as a sweet escape. You see, it’s not a fan of spending a lot of energy, and it thinks that when you’re overwhelmed, you’ll take less action and do less things.

So, it sort of lures you into procrastination and distraction, like email, social media scrolling, or easier tasks, because it’s less effort than tackling your to-do list. In other words, your brain prefers less action and more distraction to save energy, even if it leaves you feeling overwhelmed.

Basically, the trick your brain is playing here is that it equates overwhelm with doing less, which, in its energy-saving logic, seems like a win. But in reality, you’re not getting more done; you’re getting less done, and you’re wasting time in the process.

But that’s not the only time thief. There’s also perfectionism, which is a common challenge for accountants. It’s this belief that you can always do better, but unfortunately it often leads to overthinking.

Here’s where brain science comes into play again. When you spend a lot of time thinking about how to do things perfectly, your brain expends a ton of energy, leaving you feeling exhausted and less productive.

Picture this scenario: You have to prepare a financial report for a client. Instead of diving straight into the data analysis and number crunching, you find yourself obsessing over the formatting, font choices, and layout of the report. You meticulously go over every detail, fearing that even the tiniest imperfection might cost you a client.

In the process, your brain is working overtime, expending precious energy on these non-essential aspects. Unfortunately, your brain can’t distinguish between overthinking and productive action. 

So, by the time you’ve finally completed the report, you’re mentally drained, and the hours have slipped away. You’ve spent so much time perfecting the appearance of the report that you’ve lost valuable time for the actual financial analysis.

This kind of perfectionist thinking can be a major time waster for accountants. It’s important to recognize when it’s happening and learn how to strike a balance between attention to detail and efficient time management, which we’ll delve into in the sections that follow.

So it’s important to understand that your brain often chooses shortcuts that, in the end, waste more of your time rather than save it. Overwhelm and perfectionism are the two major culprits here.

How to Create More Time – The GPA System

Now I want to share a simple system that I teach my time management clients – the GPA system.  It’s a simple yet incredibly helpful framework designed to help you make the most of your time.

Getting Things Out of Your Brain

While your brain is fantastic at processing information, it’s not the ideal place to store your to-dos. Imagine it as a computer overloaded with too many applications – it slows down and gets confused.

As an accountant managing client meetings, financial reports, and personal commitments, trying to remember everything can lead to chaos. To alleviate this burden, the first step in the GPA system involves offloading tasks from your mind onto paper. 

Although digital tools have their place, I recommend starting with traditional writing. Why? Because physically jotting things down triggers a part of your brain that aids in processing and remembering, unlike digital tools that often lead to distractions.

For example, if you have various tasks cluttering your mind, such as “Client meeting at 10 AM,” “Submit quarterly financials,” “Remember to get a birthday card,” and “Contact the client about open items,” centralizing them on paper frees your brain from the burden of remembering every detail.

By externalizing your tasks, you create a mental space where your brain can perform at its best, focusing on the actual work rather than worrying about what needs to be done.

Putting it on the Calendar

The GPA system’s true strength lies in scheduling, not just listing tasks. Instead of vague to-do lists, you’ll craft a well-structured plan for your day.

Here’s what you need to know about to-do lists – they are incredibly overwhelming to your brain.  And do you know what doesn’t help you get more done in less time? An overwhelmed brain.

You must learn to calendar everything and make as many decisions ahead of time as possible. Here’s why – when you are deciding and planning, you are using your higher brain.

For instance, instead of noting “Work on Client X’s financials” on your to-do list, take it a step further. Insert it into your calendar as “Work on Client X’s financials from 2 PM to 4 PM on Thursday.”

This level of detail brings clarity to your day. Your brain gets a clear roadmap, knowing when and where each task is happening, eliminating confusion and overwhelm.

While scheduling, I advise my clients to begin with planning their free time first. Just like dessert, knowing there are rewards at specific times can maintain motivation throughout the day.

Why Bite-Size Pieces Matter

As accountants, we excel at breaking down complex financial tasks into manageable steps. The GPA system mirrors this approach. By dividing your day into smaller, actionable pieces, you make it easier to tackle.

Take, for example, handling a tax return with numerous K-1 forms and brokerage statements. Breaking it down into smaller, manageable tasks, such as collecting documents, reviewing them, checking deductions, inputting data, and reviewing the return, makes the overwhelming task more achievable.

By following this method, you turn a daunting project into a series of smaller, doable tasks, ensuring that you make steady progress while maintaining focus and energy throughout the day. In simpler terms, you’re taking a big task and breaking it down into smaller, doable parts, making it less intimidating and conducive to effective time management. The best part? You get more done in less time.

Assessing Your Follow-Through

The final piece of our GPA system involves assessing your ability to follow through. Reflect on what went well and what didn’t by asking questions like:

Where was my time well spent?

What made me follow through?

Where did I waste time?

Why did I fail to follow through?

Where did I get stuck in confusion or overwhelm?

What led to distractions?

What can I do differently next time?

By assessing your follow-through, you gain insights into your own actions and self-awareness, empowering you to fine-tune your time management skills.

The GPA system is one part of The Smarter Accountant Time Management Program and enables you to create more time by working efficiently, moving tasks from your brain to your calendar, breaking them into manageable pieces, and self-assessing to maximize your productivity.  There’s much more to better time management, but this will definitely help you to create more time.

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Tackling Time Wasters To Create More Time

Now that I’ve explained the process for creating more time with the GPA system, let’s tackle the elephant in the room – time wasters. These sneaky culprits can steal precious hours from your day, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and unproductive. 

Let’s go over some of the biggest time wasters and I’ll show you how regaining control over them can help you create more time.

1. Email Overload:

Raise your hand if you’ve ever spent hours digging through your email inbox, responding to messages, and feeling like you’ve achieved very little. Email can be a notorious time waster, especially when it’s disorganized and filled with unnecessary messages.

Solution: Set specific times to check and respond to emails. Use filters to categorize messages, and unsubscribe from newsletters that clutter your inbox. By taming your email, you free up substantial chunks of time for productive work.

2. Procrastination:

Procrastination is one of the biggest time wasters for accountants. It often stems from feeling overwhelmed or unsure of where to start. Instead of tackling important tasks, you find yourself lost in minor distractions.

Solution: First, become aware of the feelings that typically drive you to procrastinate and then learn how to manage your mind.  When you learn the skill of managing your mind, you’ll be able to eliminate stress and overwhelm.  Second, break tasks into smaller, manageable parts, as we’ve discussed with the GPA system. Set clear deadlines and reward yourself for completing them. By conquering procrastination, you regain control of your time and productivity.

3. Unplanned Meetings:

Endless meetings can be a significant time waster, especially when they lack a clear agenda or drag on without purpose. When your calendar is crammed with unnecessary meetings, your actual work suffers.

Solution: Before agreeing to a meeting, ask for a clear agenda and objective. Suggest shorter meetings or utilize video conferencing to save time. By reclaiming your schedule from aimless meetings, you create more time for meaningful tasks.

4. Multitasking:

Contrary to popular belief, multitasking actually slows you down instead of making you more efficient. When you juggle several tasks at once, your brain frequently switches between them, causing time and mental energy to be wasted.

Solution: Focus on one task at a time. Prioritize your to-do list, allocate dedicated time for each item on your calendar, and only do what’s in one block of time at a time. This method enhances your concentration and productivity.

5. Perfectionism:

Striving for perfection can lead to excessive time spent on tasks. While attention to detail is essential for accountants, perfectionism often means spending more time than necessary on a task.

Solution: Set clear standards for your work and recognize when something is “good enough.” This approach can help you complete tasks more efficiently, freeing up time for other responsibilities.

6. Social Media and Digital Distractions:

The digital age has brought many benefits, but it also offers endless distractions. Scrolling through social media, checking news websites, or watching YouTube videos can easily devour your time.

Solution: Use website blockers or productivity apps to limit your access to distracting sites during work hours. The truth is that our lower, Toddler brain is not onboard with accounting work and will look for distractions any way that it can.  By curbing digital distractions, you gain extra time for meaningful work.

7. Not Having Effective Boundaries:

The truth is that setting clear boundaries regarding your availability is crucial, especially when dealing with well-intentioned colleagues who might not be aware of the impact of their interruptions..

Solution: If possible, establish specific “focus time” during your workday when you’ll avoid interruptions. Communicate this to your team and let them know that you’ll be available for discussions or questions during certain hours. This creates a balance between collaboration and focused work.  If the interruptions often come from clients, turn on your away message to say when you will be answering emails throughout the day. 

Hopefully you now see that these common time wasters can significantly impact your productivity and work-life balance. By recognizing them and taking steps to control them, you’ll create more time for what truly matters. 

As an accountant, efficient time management is your superpower, and taming these time wasters will help you harness that power to the fullest.

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me on this exploration of creating more hours in the day. I hope you’ve gained valuable insights and practical tools to better manage your time.

If you are struggling with any aspect of being an accountant, you can simply go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com/calendar and book a free session with me.

I’ll explain The Smarter Accountant 6-week Program and how you can apply it to whatever you’re struggling with.

That’s what I have for you, but make sure you check back each week as I help you go from being a stressed accountant to a Smarter Accountant.

Make sure you go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com and take The Smarter Accountant Quiz. You’re going to want to know if you’ve been underutilizing your accountant brain so that you have a starting point for becoming a Smarter Accountant..

Also, I would appreciate it if you could get the word out to other accountants about this podcast.  The more accountants find out about it, the more we can begin to change the narrative in the accounting profession.

The truth is that you’re already smart, but this podcast will show you how to be smarter.