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How to Work Smarter, Not Harder This Tax Season

If you are one of those who run from one task to another, checking emails every now and then, trying to keep things organized all the time, making calls that don’t achieve much, checking work by yourself to make sure there are no mistakes and so on; if you are the one who is super-busy during the tax season; these (neuroscience based) five proven methods will help you work smarter, not harder…..

Work smarter, not harder sounds so “cliché” but there are a few things that have worked for millions of people for years, proven by several neuroscience and psychological studies and these can work for you as well.

Handle One Task Only Once: There are always dependencies in every process. You can not go from one step to the next unless you have that piece of information, that specific document etc. Making sure that you have all the information before you actually start processing can help you handle one task only once. This can save you a few minutes per task, as you do not have to “recall” the information to continue with the task. A checklist of “must-have” information/documents can be helpful.

Focus: Easier said than done but when you are on a task, cut out ALL distractions – phone calls, emails, and visitors – everything. It is much faster to complete the task that way. See How to Train Your Brain to Focus

Self-imposed Time Deadlines: Sounds stressful but it is a golden fact that work expands to the time available. If you have statistics available, see how many tax returns you processed during the last 15 days before the deadline. Just like you do whatever you can to reach airport in time for your flight, create time deadlines for each task on hand. And think of them as regulatory deadlines. You will be amazed how much you can finish in half the time.

Take Small Breaks Often – At the Oxygen Bar!: Sounds counterproductive to take breaks when time is scarce? A brain-reset can work wonders to increase the productivity of your brain. Taking 10-20 deep, slow breaths is like being at an Oxygen-Bar, refreshing and rejuvenating. Try it and see how you feel more alert, faster at grasping information and more active in general.

Look at Cute Baby Animals to Help Improve Accuracy!: Well, just pictures of cute baby animals will do! In an experimental study conducted by Hiroshima University in Japan, participants increased concentration by a whopping 44% after looking at cute animals. Researchers argue that viewing images of baby animals has a slowing down effect and hence may benefit tasks that require accuracy. So when you are reviewing the tax returns finally, it may be a good idea to have some pictures of baby animals handy. Don’t use them when doing tasks that need speed!

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