The three Rs for a successful 2018


Planning big things for your accounting business in 2018? Take some time out now – and come back even stronger next year.

With the end of the calendar year fast approaching, you’re probably already thinking about your business goals for the year ahead. But first, make sure you take time out to rest, recharge and then regroup – so you’ll be re-energised to take on 2018 and make it your strongest year yet.

1. Rest

As a business owner, you’ve probably been putting in long hours once again this year. And if there are still some loose ends to tie up during the quieter months, the idea of a complete break may seem out of the question. But if you’re worried that taking some time out to rest will hurt your business, think again.

Studies show that sleep and rest are essential if you want to be more productive at work1. On the other hand, high stress levels can play havoc with your health and have actually been shown to reduce productivity and work satisfaction. What’s more, in a 2015 study in Sweden, experiments with a shorter work day also suggest that you can potentially achieve more (and be happier too) if you work fewer hours2.

So even if circumstances mean you need to work over the traditional summer holiday period, you should aim to keep your hours down wherever possible. For instance, you could work from home to avoid the commute, start later or finish earlier than usual, take long lunches or add a leisure activity into each working day.

2. Recharge

While taking a month off over summer is the dream, it’s rarely the reality for most business owners. But as we all know, life is about more than just work – so be sure to take every opportunity you can to recharge the batteries.

To make the most of your time off, schedule in plenty of activities that will relax and reinvigorate you – whether it’s chilling out at the beach, pottering around the garden, heading off on an overseas jaunt or simply catching up on some household DIY.

And before your staff leave the office for their own breaks, make sure you acknowledge the hard work they’ve put in throughout the year. This could mean thanking them at your end-of-year celebration, or sending them a personal note highlighting their achievements for the year. There’s also another benefit to recognising and rewarding your staff: research shows that workers who feel appreciated will be happier and more productive3.

3. Regroup

The New Year is a perfect time focus on your professional goals for 2018. So once you’ve rested and recharged, it’s time to regroup. That means taking stock of where your business is now so you can prepare for the next phase – whether it’s growing your client base, building your staff capabilities or redesigning your processes to be more efficient. The most important thing is to set aside some time and resources to develop your strategy for the year ahead and put an action plan in place that will get you there.

Finally, it’s important that you don’t undo all the health benefits of your rest-and-recharge break. So if you’re planning to work smarter and not harder in 2018, here are some tips that could help:

  • Do one thing at a time: Set aside specific times during the day to answer emails and phone calls, so you don’t continually get side-tracked.
  • Take regular screen breaks: Have a stretch, take a quick walk around the office, or spend a few minutes gazing out the window before you get on with the next task.
  • Remember to move: Sedentary jobs aren’t great for our health or our energy levels. Consider getting a stand-up desk, taking a daily stroll around the block or even visiting the gym at lunchtime.
  • Find more hours in the day: There are plenty of handy apps that can help you manage your time better. For example, you could organise your week with Timely, automate tasks on your phone with Workflow or use RescueTime to get a picture of how many hours you’re spending online. 
  • Be flexible: Juggling family, work and personal commitments? Flexible work hours can help you keep on top of everything – and maybe even enjoy life a bit more. This could mean working from home once a week, or finishing early occasionally so you can pick up the kids, play a game of tennis or do any of the other non-work activities that make up your life.

1. K Nowack, ‘Sleep, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal effectiveness: Natural bedfellows’, Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 2017.
2. D Crouch, ‘Efficiency up, turnover down: Sweden experiments with six-hour working day’, The Guardian, 2015.
3. A Grant & F Gino, A little thanks goes a long way: Explaining why gratitude expressions motivate prosocial behaviour, 2010.