With the exception of the New Year, spring is the time of year when we have more motivation for positive change than any other time. Many of us are often motivated to start self-improvements like a new diet, getting in better shape, cutting out processed foods, and getting more sleep. But those of us involved with the world of accounting and corporate finance struggle with an additional factor this time of year. You guessed it, “busy season!” Whether you’re a tax accountant slugging your way toward April 15 or you’re in corporate finance and working to finalize Q1 reporting for your organization, you probably don’t seem to have a spare second for even the most basic routines, let alone time for a new health kick! But by not taking care of ourselves, aren’t we actually hurting our productivity? There are reams of health statistics and studies that show we are.

We’ve all seen the checklists and helpful hints on how to be healthier, reduce fatigue, boost energy levels, and ultimately achieve that productive nirvana that seems so elusive no matter how hard we try! Well, here’s one short, super-simple checklist that I hope you’ll find easy to understand and actually doable during our busiest time of year – no matter what shape you’re in.

1) Protein – starting with breakfast. “OK,” you might be saying, “Really? I thought this was supposed to be realistic.” I’m not a big breakfast eater myself, but I discovered that by scrambling an egg, sticking it in the microwave for a minute, and eating it while I pulled a comb through my hair, I could actually do this! The big point here is, don’t eat a doughnut and call it breakfast. Protein is the key. An egg, some Greek yogurt, or a protein bar all count as breakfast, and you can even eat them on the run. But don’t stop there: Remember to work protein into each meal or snack throughout the day. This not only gives you a more sustained energy boost than simple carbohydrates, it has the added benefit of helping you eat less because you feel full longer.

2) Get the workout in! Again, I know you’re probably thinking “Yeah, right, I don’t have time for that!” I’m not talking about starting the P90X program (although hats off to you if you are doing this!). This can be as simple as taking two or three 10-minute strolls throughout the day. Or you can treat it as part of your morning routine. Get up 30 minutes earlier and get it done. You DO have time for this. The benefits of exercise are also cumulative, so each minute you do something active throughout your day adds up. Not only does this increase circulation, lower cholesterol, and help you shed pounds, it makes you feel good! Try it—you’ll like it, I promise!

3) Take breaks in your day. How often have we all been sitting hunched over a problem, determined to sit there until we find the solution? Have you ever tried walking away from it for a few minutes? You come back and, magically, you see the solution! This is not magic. According to cognitive research studies, by giving yourself time to reset your brain periodically throughout the day, you are actually able to focus much more clearly on the task at hand.

4) Get enough sleep at night. This is my personal favorite. As a working mom, I can’t remember the last time I felt I got enough sleep! We’ve all heard the studies that say most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep per night to function at optimal levels. However, we are all different, so you need to ensure you are doing what makes sense for you to get enough sleep at night. This could be turning the TV off 30 minutes earlier or getting the kids in bed a little earlier. The effects of a good night’s sleep on our productivity are fairly obvious. Most of us can see a dramatic difference in our overall ability to focus, think creatively, and act like a decent human being after we’ve had a good night’s sleep!

I hope you find this checklist achievable and that it helps you to have a successful, productive, and healthy “busy season.” Then when you're ready, we can discuss your new expense report software. wink

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