Archive for May, 2011

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Post-Tax Season Debrief: Sleep Matters

When I reflect on some of the mistakes I have made in the past, I can usually draw a straight line of fault directly to my state of fatigue at the time. Turns out, rats have the same problem.

CBC News reported on April 28—typically a high stress time for tax practitioners in particular–that sleep deprivation can cause groups of brain cells to fall asleep in rats who appear to be awake. . .and rats with sleeping neurons make more mistakes, according to new research by Giulio Tononi, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his team (see story: Sleep deprivation makes brain cells turn off).

For professional advisors, it pays to spot check files in the post-tax season and in particular to review with clients those last minute activities that may require some audit-proofing. It’s always better to file an adjustment to a return that is error-prone than face gross negligence or tax evasion penalties later. Most pros will take the time to do that at this time of the year.

But, further reflection is required on the personal wear and tear we ignore and suffer, when we push ourselves to meet deadlines. Important practice management decisions need to be made before next tax season. Should you really have had more staff? Was it difficult to find qualified people you could count on to provide highly accurate service?

If that’s a problem for you, now is the time to study, train and improve the professional development of everyone in the office. We can help at the Knowledge Bureau; with professional development consultations.

It’s Your Money. Your Life. Remember, it’s about coming back next year. . .your clients would be so disappointed if you ruined your health, or your reputation, because you were just too tired to avoid mistakes! Make next tax season a healthier one by getting more sleep. . . plan well now.

Evelyn Jacks is President of the Knowledge Bureau, a national educational institute providing excellence in financial education for tax and financial advisors and their clients. She is a bestselling author of over 46 books on the subject of tax, personal finance, and wealth management, including Master Your Taxes.


Winning: It Requires Goal Achievement

Last week it was the rabbit; this week it’s a freak snowstorm on the first day of May.  Measured against my thwarted attempts at a tulip garden, I must concede:  Mother Nature is winning!  She is, in fact, the only force I know who can succeed, randomly. For the rest of us, (including the infamous Mr. Sheen, I might add) “winning” requires the achievement of a goal, not just once, but as often as possible.
 
If Mother Nature’s mischief is any indication, the stage is being set for an interesting week of winning results.  An election will be won, several hockey playoffs will be won and despite all three of those distractions, many of you will have won the annual tax season challenge; having once again filed a tax return on time, before midnight May 2.
 
Goal achievement is paramount in winning.  Pat Williams, Senior Vice President of the Orlando Magic, noted in opening the 2009 Emerson Global Users Exchange, that specificity in goal setting is paramount.  One needs short-term, mid-term and long range goals and a deadline for achievement of those goals to be a consistent winner.  That’s really important.  When you add self-discipline, integrity and perseverance, your chances of winning against adversity greatly improve.
 
Mr. Williams correctly points out that adversity, as much as we like to try and avoid it, is a constant in life:  at any point in time we’ve likely just emerged from a storm, we’re in one or we’re heading into one.  That reality requires a vision, a process and a positive attitude for navigation to a successful result. It also requires perseverance:  the only way to lose is to quit.  
 
Yet, in the end, it’s all about how you win that’s important.  When you pay attention to detail and act with integrity, you will win well, and you will position yourself to win again and again in the future. 
 
It’s Your Money. Your Life.  If you missed your tax filing deadline—for whatever reason—do persevere:  you can get your refund sooner or minimize penalties and interest by doing so immediately.  That’s a tax win, even if it comes late. 
 
In the meantime,  I’m going to focus on the best way to bring glory to the next bloom—the potentially spectacular summer growth currently shivering in my snow-laden flower garden—and set a goal to thwart the bunny next spring with less tasty selections in the fall plant.  Not sure what to do about Mother Nature, yet, but I trust she’s already reconsidering her actions:  apparently it’s going to be +18C by Wednesday! 

Evelyn Jacks is President of the Knowledge Bureau, a national educational institute providing excellence in financial education for tax and financial advisors and their clients. She is a bestselling author of over 46 books on the subject of tax, personal finance, and wealth management, including Essential Tax Facts.