What would happen to your accounting practice if you took every Friday off? How much would your overall life improve if you could work a 4 day week? If the answers to these two questions are, (1) nothing; it would be fine, and (2) a lot – then you are obviously in control of your practice – it is not in control of you.
However, if you took every Friday off and your practice fell apart then your practice owns you, not the other way around. If this is the case then all you really have is a job (hopefully a well-paid one!)
No doubt there are times in the life of a practice that 15 hour days and seven day work weeks are required. However, if these are regular occurrences t
hen there is something seriously wrong. This is not normal and you can’t be productive operating like this for long periods of time. You will get tired and bored. Physical and mental fatigue will dull your senses and stifle new ideas. This is a not a happy cocktail in practice. Energy and vitality are essential ingredients for long-term success.
Owning a practice should be fun, exciting and challenging. It will also be stressful at times. Maintaining a balance between work and play is essential to ensure longevity. Leading an accounting practice is a long game and there is no point in burning out quickly. Plan time to relax and to pursue other interests and hobbies. This “downtime” will re-energise you and keep you firing on all cylinders. It is also important to maintain a level of physical activity. Exercise improves your physical condition and can reduce mental stress.
Go on holidays each year for at least 2 weeks – longer is better. Every 2-4 years take a longer break (1-3 months) and do something that you’ve always wanted to do. This approach will allow you to better handle your work pressures and help you make more rational decisions. When you return, your mind will be brimming with new ideas and your vision will be a lot clearer. Spending time away allows you to contemplate more deeply without the intrusion of day-to-day events. You will return stronger mentally and emotionally.
An important benefit of this approach is that you will have to empower your team to run the practice in your absence. This will allow them to express themselves more freely and solve problems in their own way. This may not be exactly the way that you would do it, but as long as it works then where’s the problem? The right people, trusted and left to their own devices, will accomplish wonderful things. The question is – Can you let go enough to let this happen?
Start by taking every Friday off. If mistakes happen in your absence, mentor and train your team to deal with them better next time. Sooner or later they will get it and you’ll have no problem being away from the practice longer. You don’t have much of a practice if you are indispensable to it. Work on making yourself dispensable and you will enjoy a more fun and full life as well as a better practice. Over to you …